Beautiful Marbella is a hugely popular destination for holidaymakers and expats alike, from the UK, Ireland and many other places too. Situated at the heart of the Costa del Sol, it’s an idyllic spot of sun and sand overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. But how do you find the Spanish real estate agency that’s right for you?
Whether you’re buying, selling or renting, finding an estate agent is a hugely important step, which will shape the whole of the process. The right agent will find you the best property in the perfect location, or the best buyer at the right price, while the wrong agent could mean you end up in the wrong part of town or waiting frustratingly long for a decent offer.
This article will help you with:
- Finding Marbella estate agents
- How to choose the best estate agents
- Typical estate agent fees
- What you should know about the Marbella property market
- Questions to ask estate agents when selling or buying.
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Now, back to what you came here to read.
It’s no surprise that a wealthy and popular destination like Marbella is home to a large number of estate agents. Up and down the coast, you’ll find plenty of options for you to consider.
As ever these days, you have 2 main options. You can either look online for an agency, or pound the pavement and find your perfect local estate agent in person.
Both options have their pros and cons. If you go in person to an agency, you can get a real sense of how they operate, meet the team, and immediately get some personalised advice: it’s a more enjoyable experience. However, it can also be quite limiting: which agencies you visit will likely depend heavily on your location, and your impression could be strongly affected by whoever happens to be at the front desk that day. The other problem, of course, is that you actually have to be in Marbella: if you’re mostly based elsewhere, then this option could be hugely inconvenient.
Staying online has some obvious advantages: most of all, convenience. Whenever you have a free moment, you can browse among agencies, and get a sense of what they’re really like via email or phone. This is a great way to whittle down a potentially infinite list of options into a manageable one, without arbitrary restrictions like the agent’s location. Be careful you don’t simply choose the agent with the best-looking website, though: there’s more to it than that.
Additionally, handling the process online can mean you may fall to the bottom of an agent’s list of priorities, it can make everything a lot less personal, and there’s a chance you’ll end up losing out on the best options.
The best approach is often a mixture: do some initial research online, and book yourself a trip to Marbella once you’ve got a few appointments in the bag.
As you’ll quickly discover, there are a great many estate agents in Marbella, and it isn’t hard to find ones operating in English. Here’s a few to get you started, but to find the perfect fit for you, take some time and go through a wide variety of options.
- Smart Xcape¹
- Marbella Living²
- Bromley Estates⁴
- The Spanish Estate Agent⁵
There are also freelance estate agents in Spain, who operate mainly online. If you want a different sort of approach, this could be an alternative option to consider.
The best estate agents for you are out there somewhere - but on the Costa del Sol it’s a crowded field. Here are a few words of advice on how to narrow the list down a little.
- Check which language they speak. English speakers are everywhere in Marbella, so this isn’t likely to prove much of a problem. But of course, if you need one, you should find an agent who speaks fluent English.
- Cast a wide net at first. There’s nothing wrong with starting the process online, but don’t just go with the top result you find on Google: just because an agency spends a lot on SEO doesn’t necessarily mean they’re good at buying and selling properties. Look through search results carefully, and better still, get personal recommendations if you can.
- Look for specialists. Some estate agents specialise in luxury properties; others might focus on new builds or rental. Some also specifically target expats, maybe even UK expats in particular. Given the huge number of agents out there, there are bound to be a few that fit all of your criteria, so search out the ones who have the most experience in exactly the service you require.
- Look on listings sites too. There’s a lot to be said for going directly to an agent, but if you’re buying or renting then there’s always the option of checking out listings websites as well: the likes of Rightmove, Spainhouses.net, Spain Properties and Kyero could all be worth browsing. If you see something you like there, take a look at who the estate agent offering the property is: it could be worth checking them out directly.
- Pick up the phone. If you’re not in Marbella, that doesn’t mean the whole process has to be done online. Sometimes, a phone call is worth a thousand emails: having a direct chat with someone could give you a far better, more personal feel for what an estate agent is like.
Overall, try and compare estate agents as thoroughly as you can. There are lots to choose from, after all, so there really should be at least one that you really click with.
When it comes to property, the fees can stack up. But among all the fees you’ll face, what do estate agents charge?
|Service||Estate agent fee|
|Typical real estate agent commission on the Costa del Sol||5% of the sale price The fee is usually paid by the seller.⁸|
|Tax for the seller||3% withholding tax on any capital gains, for non-resident. Capital gains tax is 19% of the profit of the sale.⁷|
If you’re buying, it’s still worth clarifying with the estate agents if they’ll charge you anything. Even if not, there are of course plenty of other fees to pay, from the transfer tax to notary and lawyer fees.⁹
Here are a few extra facts regarding Marbella’s busy and glamorous property market.
- It’s a secondary housing market. Or, to put it in everyday terms, a lot of the properties are owned by people who spend most of their time in their primary home, probably in a different country. That totally changes the housing market: properties tend to have more of a luxury feel.
- Estate agents expect expats. Because of the popularity of Marbella among expats, you should be able to find estate agents who are used to people looking to buy or sell property there while living abroad. Nothing beats the personal touch of a visit, but still: they should be used to dealing with clients remotely.
- The market is changing. Marbella is one of the classic destinations for British retirees who want a quiet place where they can sunbathe, golf, and get some peace and quiet.
- Britons still buy the most property in Spain. Looking at Spain overall, British people accounted for 14% of all property bought by foreigners: the most of any country.¹º
You don’t buy or sell a house overnight, and there will probably be times when you’ll have to be in near constant contact with your estate agent. So you should be confident in how to deal with estate agents, when buying or selling.
When you’re laying the foundations of your relationship, make sure you ask the following.
- When are you open? A simple but important question. If you might need to contact them outside normal working hours or at weekends, you should check to see if someone will be there for you.
- Are you accredited? A good real estate agent will be professionally accredited from a body like API or GIPE.¹¹ There’s a body called LPA Spain, which stands for “Leading Property Agents of Spain” and is mainly made up of agents on the Costa del Sol: membership of that is a good sign too.¹²
- Are you part of a network? Many real estate agencies are part of a network, which expands the pool of available properties and ensures a higher level of visibility for properties being sold. It’s worth checking if your agent does this, as it could lead to a quicker sale.
- How did you arrive at your estimate? A good property valuation will factor in a lot of different criteria, and should be based on thorough market analysis and data. When you receive an estimate, you should be reassured by the agent’s knowledge, and feel confident the figure is fair.
- What else can you help with? There are so many related concerns when dealing with property that it’s often best to take all the help you can get. Your estate agent might be able to help with legal services or your mortgage: check to see if they have any recommendations.
With the stakes as high as they are in property transactions, you’ll want to make absolutely sure that your estate agent is a legitimate outfit. The best way to do this is to look at their credentials: check that they’re properly accredited and have a decent track record.
As mentioned above, they should really be regulated by API or GIPE. API accreditation (Agentes de la Propiedad Inmobiliaria) means that the agent has received official training, and it also means that their fees are controlled tightly. GIPE (La Asociación Profesional de Gestores Inmobiliarios en Promociones de Edificaciones) is an organisation that does something similar.
You can check for estate agent reviews or ratings online as well, although a professional certificate of accreditation is a bigger deal than a 5-star rating on Facebook.
All in all, it’s down to you to find your perfect estate agent match: it’ll depend on whether you’re buying or selling, already in Spain or living elsewhere, looking at luxury villas or mid-market properties, and so on. There’s no universal right answer.
But your agent will shape the whole buying or selling process, so make sure you feel comfortable with them. And even more importantly: good luck buying or selling your place in Marbella. Fingers crossed you can find the perfect deal.
All sources checked 27-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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