Buying a home in Spain is a team effort. Let the Spain Property Guide introduce you to the trusted professionals who will ensure your purchase and your exciting new life here happens without a hitch.
Moving to a new country can be quite daunting so when you decide to change countries, it’s good to know that help is at hand. In Spain particularly you don’t need to find your way through a forest of bureaucracy alone. Don’t be afraid to ask, as you might appear to be finding your way when, in fact, you would just love someone to clear your path.
Let’s start at the very beginning:
1. Your Estate Agent and Surveyor
There was a time when almost anyone could open an estate agency in Spain, which led to all sorts of unprofessional practices. The great news is that that’s all over. Estate agencies in Spain today are subject to new regulations and must be registered. Of course, that doesn’t mean they’re all perfect. Look for one belonging to associations such as FNAIM, SNPI or UNPI and you should be fine.
Of course the agent is only paid if you buy, so you need to know that someone is on your side and yours alone. That’s why we would suggest employing a surveyor. Not everyone does, but it will certainly put your mind at rest and potentially save you thousands. Read our article about getting a survey in Spain.
Spain Property Guides can put you in touch with the very best lawyers, estate agents and international payments specialists in Spain, for total peace of mind. Get in touch with your Golden Three here.
2. Your Lawyer
Never buy a property in Spain without the services of a lawyer. Well, you wouldn’t in the UK, so why would you in Spain? You will probably need an English speaking lawyer and they are to be found in areas which are popular with British people along the coast and in the main Spanish cities. Don’t be confused with thinking that the Notario who oversees a property sale is in fact a lawyer working for you. He or she is most definitely not. Their job is to make sure that all legalities are covered and in fact are working for the regional and state governments.
Often an estate agent can suggest an English speaking lawyer to you but in my experience it is usually better to use an independent lawyer. You should be speaking to a lawyer before you even book a viewing trip – read our article on the viewing trip legal questions you should be asking them.
3. Your Gestor
Modern life is stressful. We all know that. If only there was a person less expensive than a lawyer but who knows their way around bureaucracy and Spanish government… In Spain you’ll be relieved to know there is such a person; a gestor.
A gestor is really an administrator with some legal and tax knowledge. The Spanish use them for practically everything, such as getting a car registered at trafico, taking papers to government agencies and waiting for licences and other documents. If you are having problems with any type of state or local government bureaucracy, go to a gestor. They also can help you with your tax return and give advice on a number of subjects.
You will need to find one who knows English and who understands the tax agreements between the UK and Spain. It’s often a case of just shopping around or asking people you trust. I found mine through my bank and have been delighted with their service for the 12 years I have lived here. They are particularly useful for applying for Spanish residency, though in some areas you have to go in person to the foreigner’s department at a commissariat to do this.
4. Comparison sites and consumer associations
Unless you are moving into a brand new property, connecting to utilities such as water, gas and electricity is fairly straightforward. If you are buying off plan, get your lawyer to check that all the services are in place before you move in! As for most property it usually means a trip to your local water/gas/electricity office but you can also contract online.
Most people just take on a contract with company already servicing the property as it is the easiest option but actually you could save yourself a lot of money by shopping around. Get a friend to help you look at comparison sites, or even your estate agent. I would really recommend you become members of OCU, the Organización de Consumidores y Usuarios, similar to The Consumer Association in the UK. They run annual tenders to obtain the best priced electricity, gas, petrol, mobile phone deals and so on and it is worth becoming a member. You also receive a magazine like Which? but it is in Spanish
5. Your Doctor
We all will need a doctor at some time or other, even just for minor things. Your EHIC card is just for emergencies and is not medical insurance if you move to Spain permanently. How do you go about finding the right doctor for you? If you have private medical insurance, the company will be able to help here by giving you a list of doctors and private medical centres in your area. You can also look them up online. There are some websites that rate specialists and doctors with reviews from patients.
For the Spanish National Health Service, you will need to get a medical card (again a gestor can help) or try to find someone who offers a service to help newly arrived foreigners. There are plenty of people around but check reviews before you use them. In Torremolinos, for example, the town hall has recently opened a new Foreign Residents Department in the town centre. Make sure to ask for an English speaking GP.
Clubs and Associations
These are really useful and luckily there are several for British people who have made the move to Spain. Not only do they offer all sorts of activities, they can advise and help in practical ways too.
- The u3a is an association found in many areas from the Costa Brava to the Costa del Sol. Just type in u3a Spain and you will see where the nearest group is to you. Make friends, discover new interests.
- The British Benevolent Fund is one of the oldest English speaking charities in Spain. The main activity is to provide financial grants to British Citizens in need in Spain. However, the aim of the British Benevolent Fund is that any British citizen in need or distress in Spain has the support they require and are cared for with benevolence.
- Costa Women provides an essential connection point for Women, along with space for you to join in and get real life tips and advice. Useful for social and business life.
- The British Society has branches around Spain. It is mainly a social club but members are ready to help newly arrived British people. Again just type in The British Society in Spain and you will find one in your area.
- Your Local Bar/Café. Let’s not forget your friendly local bar or café. Once they get to know you, the owner or waiter/waitress will become a fount of knowledge. They can give you really useful tips about people, shopping, where to go for certain things, maybe even finding you an electrician or plumber. Be nice and friendly to them and they will return the compliment 10-fold.
I am going to add one more “best friend” when you move to Spain, your Spanish teacher! Learn the language and join in with local events, make friends with local people and feel a part of this wonderful country, then you can become a “best friend” to someone who is following in your footsteps to Spain.