Spain is an extremely popular destination for Brits looking to invest in property overseas, either as a family home, rental, or holiday pad. If you’re thinking of taking the plunge and buying a place in Spain, you’ll need to find a great estate agent to help.
This guide covers all you need to know about finding an agent in Spain, including answers to key questions:
- How to choose an estate agent I can trust?
- How to deal with estate agents when buying?
- What do estate agents charge, and what other fees do I need to know about?
A great estate agent will make the property buying process easier, but they’ll also save you money and make sure you get the best possible deal on your new home.
Another way to save when buying a property overseas is to get a multi-currency account from TransferWise, to send and receive international payments using the real-market exchange rate, and for just a low transparent fee. Keep life simple - and avoid high cross border fees, all with one account. More on that later.
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Now, back to what you came here to read.
If you’re in the process of finding an agent to help you buy, rent or sell a property in Spain, you’re probably already realised that there is plenty of choice out there. However, the huge volume of different options can in itself be confusing - and the quality of agents is not necessarily consistent.
A quick google search for estate agents in the area you’re looking to buy will give you a lot of options - assuming you’re planning on moving to one of the more popular areas for foreign buyers, or a big city. However, if you’re planning on a move to somewhere off the beaten path, you might find that online resources are a little harder to come by.
If you’re struggling to find a local estate agent covering your area online, you could visit the region and look around for smaller local real estate offices, or get in touch with the office of the official school of estate agents - COAPI - covering your preferred area. They may be able to provide you with a listing of registered local estate agents - although you might choose to have a Spanish friend help translate if you’re not confident in the language yet.
If you’re still at the stage of browsing properties, and not completely sure yet where to buy or rent, you could look for inspiration on one of the many marketplace ‘umbrella’ websites which host listings for many different agents. One of the largest in Spain is Idealista¹ - have a look at their featured properties and the agent listings to start to learn more about the options available in your region.
Alternatively, you could dive right into your search with one of these big estate agents in Spain:
- Century 21² - this network of agents operates in many countries across the globe, offering smart search tools and a wide range of properties
- Costa Houses³ - covering some of the more popular areas for expat buyers, there are hundreds of places to choose from on the handy website
- GestPropiedad⁴ - if you’re looking in the Balearic islands, you might choose a specialist local estate agent, such as GestPropiedad which has several offices in the Balearics, and a website operating in multiple languages
To make sure you’ve got the best estate agent for your needs it can help to compare a few agents before you decide on who to work with. Firstly you’ll need to be clear on what really matters to you when it comes to your property search.
Do you need someone who can speak English for example - or are you confident enough in Spanish to work with a local estate agent even if their language skills aren’t the best? Do you need an agent who can show properties at weekends, or are you flexible to see places in the working week? And do you already have a clear idea of the location you want, or are you more flexible for the right property?
By working out the points and services that really matter to you, you can make sure your chosen agents measure up. Draw up a shortlist and chat with prospective agents to get a sense for whether or not you’ll be able to work together well. Use our ideas for questions to ask, below, if you’re not sure how to narrow down your choices further.
You can also get feedback on your estate agent options from friends and colleagues who have recently purchased property in Spain, or online communities of expats living in the area you’re headed to.
The exact price of fees to buy, sell or rent a house will depend on the agreement you have in place with your agent, as well as the value of the property. It’s worth checking exactly what is covered by your estate agent contract, and talking through all the other possible fees at the start of your house search.
Here are some approximate costs for the main fees you’ll usually face:
|Service||Estate agent fee|
|Estate agent commission - property sale||Commission is paid by the seller - usually 3%-6% of the value of the property The seller, if non-resident in Spain, may also need to pay 3% income tax provision⁵|
|Costs when renting property||Agents are usually paid by the landlord looking to let a property. If you choose to use an agent to find a property, this is also possible, for a fee. Costs vary depending on the service you agree, running from around €250 to a full month’s rent.⁶|
|Other costs when renting property||To reserve a rental property you’ll usually be asked to pay a month’s rent upfront. Once the contracts are agreed this is held as a deposit, although landlords may also ask for additional deposit payments or bank guarantees. Deposit payments should be held by a third party to avoid disputes|
|Other costs when buying property|| Ask your estate agent for the likely costs, taxes and fees based on the property type you’re buying. These could total 10%-15% of the value of the home.⁷ You may need to pay:|
Many Spanish estate agents are very familiar with the sort of concerns and questions British buyers may have. In the more popular tourist destinations and bigger cities the chances are that you’ll be able to find an agent who is experienced in working with expat buyers and speaks English. You may pay more for this service, but it could set your mind at rest if you’re not confident in Spanish, and don’t know a great deal about the Spanish property market.
Choosing an estate agent is a bit like starting any other relationship. You need to be sure you can get along, and feel they’re trustworthy and can deliver what they promise. Take the chance to ask questions about the services your estate agent can provide before you start your property search - here are some ideas of what you may ask:
- What qualifications do you hold, and how long have you been a professional estate agent?
- Who is your typical customer? Do you work with many expat buyers?
- What are your office opening hours? Do you work weekends and evenings if buyers need out of hours support?
- How many homes are you currently representing, and how long does it usually take to sell properties in this area?
- How do you appraise and value properties?
One way to find a local agent, or check that an estate agent you’re considering using is professional, is to see if they’re registered with the official school of estate agents, COAPI or just API. COAPI has local offices in each region, which have their own website, so you’ll need to find the right one for the area of Spain you’re looking to buy in. You can then confirm with them if your chosen real estate agents are registered and qualified.⁸
Choosing a good estate agent should help you navigate potential pitfalls and avoid any scams. Here are some things to consider to stay safe when investing in Spanish property:
- Check that any estate agent, lawyer or developer you work with is qualified and licensed
- Make sure your lawyer fully checks the title deeds to see that the seller is the rightful owner and check for outstanding mortgages, or other issues linked to the property
- Get a survey by a professional to confirm the property is as described and doesn’t have major structural issues
- Don’t feel pressured into completing a deal without adequate checks
- If it looks too good to be true, avoid it - it likely is
Starting a new life in Spain is an exciting prospect. Once you have found an estate agent you can trust, you’ll be able to enjoy the process of viewing properties and purchasing your new home. Don’t forget to take steps to limit the costs, such as thoroughly checking the services your agent will provide for their fee, and consider getting a multi-currency account from TransferWise to send international payments to cover your deposit and purchase costs.
Sources checked on 20-May 2019.
This publication is provided for general information purposes only and is not intended to cover every aspect of the topics with which it deals. It is not intended to amount to advice on which you should rely. You must obtain professional or specialist advice before taking, or refraining from, any action on the basis of the content in this publication. The information in this publication does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from TransferWise Limited or its affiliates. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether express or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date.
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