The Ultimate Property Buyer’s Guide for Marbella and the Costa del Sol

Buying Property in Marbella

Here is an easy-to-follow guide for property buyers in Marbella and the Costa del Sol. This guide takes you through the entire process, from how to find the best property for you, to getting the right price and efficiently closing the deal. To avoid being overwhelmed, a feeling homebuyers often tell us they experience, follow this, "The Ultimate Property Buyer's Guide to Getting the Property you want".

How Long Does the Buying Process in Spain Take?

Looking at properties before you make a purchase can be a lengthy process. You want to make sure you get the best one for your needs and you don't want to settle for anything less. While some people seem to find their dream property on their first visit, others spend years searching for the one they consider to be suitable. There is no correct length of time; the main thing is for you to be comfortable with your purchase decision.

Why Use a Marbella Estate Agent?

To streamline the buying process, choose an estate agent that understands the market on the Costa del Sol. As with any job position, some people are more qualified than others. The point here is to choose an expert who is highly knowledgeable in the local market, the agent you choose should listen to your requirements and understand your needs. You save time by using a high-quality agent because they will pre-select properties for you and only show you the ones that meet your clearly stated criteria.

Qualities of a Good Estate Agent in Marbella

A professional Marbella estate agent will guide you rather than pressure you, asking you questions to determine exactly what type of property you want (such as size, location, and budget). That way they can show you properties that meet your criteria. This agent is open minded, has a positive outlook, and communicates clearly with you.

In addition, ask an estate agent that you're considering using for references from past clients; this is a great way to find out other potential buyers' experiences with that particular agent. Take note as well of how you feel around the agent. Are you nervous and apprehensive or are you comfortable? If you are not at ease, it is probably best to start looking for a different agent.

Once you find the right estate agent for you, stick with that person throughout the buying process, from looking at properties to negotiating a deal and making the actual purchase. Using one agency provides you advantages such as a dedicated representative who as you view the different properties will learn your design tastes, likes and dislikes, which will mean you won't have to start from scratch every time you meet a new agent. They will also go that extra mile for you to see the process through to purchase.

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What Type of Property on Costa del Sol Do You Want?

Finding the best property is only possible when you determine what exactly is “best” for you and your family. Begin to think about what type of home will be suitable for you over the next five or ten years, and whether or not you are looking for a space that will grow with you.

Specific property questions to ask yourself are, what features am I looking for, what are my needs today and in the near future, and what location do I want? In terms of needs, do you plan to have children in the near future? How many bedrooms do I need? As for location, consider whether you want to purchase within walking distance to shops, restaurants or the beach, or whether you want to live as close as possible to where you work. In addition, do you want a new home or one that has been previously owned?

If you have not already figured out what type of property you want to buy at the point when you choose an estate agent, a reputable agent will ask you the above-noted questions. The intention is to determine what types of properties will be suitable to show you, to streamline the buying process.

Advice on Building a New Home in Spain

Are you looking to build a new home? If so, here is some advice to help you. Firstly, be realistic. Even when you build a home from scratch, you are still unlikely to get everything you want. Chances are that you will have to compromise in at least one way, whether that is the plot size, the view or the location, and of course you and your partner may not always agree. Compromise is the solution that works.

As well, be aware that when there appears to be several vacant plots around you, these areas may well get built on at some point in time. You may have to make concessions in the future if more houses get built around your own home. Therefore, when you buy a plot of land, be sure you own enough land to secure your privacy and retain the original land value too.

Also important here is to understand your legal rights when you buy a property under construction. A lawyer specialising in property law can help ensure you are properly covered. Here are some of the legal basics below. The developer must give you an insurance policy or guarantee from the bank as means of protecting you should the project not be completed or there be unforeseen building shortfalls. Other documents you should get from the developer are documentation showing the ownership of the property, as well as planning permission and licenses.

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Advice about Previously-Owned Homes in Spain

If you are considering doing a major renovation on an older home or apartment, ensure you figure out the financials first. Determine what the estimated costs are for the changes you plan to make and factor in unexpected repairs that may occur. Also, are you likely to get a return on your investment by making the proposed changes?

In addition, a mistake that many buyers make is they choose a property that they imagine will meet the needs of their children or grandchildren. They may want the property to be passed on to future generations. Unfortunately, what often happens is that children sell the property or have other desires and end up not using the property as much as you might initially think. Therefore, the best strategy is to buy for yourselves, first and foremost.

A Note about Property Values on Costa del Sol

A good estate agent understands the market where you are looking to buy property. This agent can relatively easily assess the value of properties based on what comparable ones in the area have sold for recently. Their knowledge of the area saves you time and helps ensure you get a fair price. In addition, the agent helps you determine a suitable price for negotiation.

Also, keep in mind the value of the property of interest in the future when you come to sell it. Assess whether it is likely to hold onto its value over time and, if not, what upgrades you will have to make in order to get a return on investment when you later sell it. Common upgrades include kitchens and bathrooms. Is the property a worthwhile investment for you?

Tips on Negotiating a Purchase

Once you find a suitable property, it is time to negotiate a purchase. Your estate agent may possess the knowledge to negotiate the best terms for you, but this is not always the case. Ask your agent if they feel comfortable handling the negotiation phase, if not then speak with the agency's Sales Manager or the company Director. The latter two professionals can direct negotiations to get you a fair outcome.

If you have chosen an experienced agent they will in general handle the negotiations and commercial aspects of the sale better than a lawyer would, as this is what they do for a living, and they will always strive to find an agreeable outcome for both you the buyer and the property vendor. If necessary your lawyer can be contacted during negotiations to ensure all legal criteria are being met.

The key to a successful negotiation is to position yourself as a serious bidder. Your agent can help you to feel out the seller for what is the lowest price they will accept.

Also, work with your estate agent to get all of the criteria you require for the sale to go through together so that you can present it to the seller in one go at the beginning of the negotiations. Doing so saves time and energy, rather than presenting different conditions in several parts to the seller. An advantage of working with an estate agent is that they can likely get an insider's view as to whether there are or have been any other offers on the table and, if so, why the offers were rejected.

To present your offer in the best light, put it in writing with the words “subject to contract” and include the total price as well as the specific amount you plan to deposit. Dates are also important; write down when you will pay the deposit and when you will complete any conditions. Also write down what you expect to be included in the price, such as fittings, and furniture.

How Much Money Should You Deposit?

As for how much money to deposit, you are more likely to get approval of your offer if you are willing to put down a generous deposit. It shows you are serious about buying the property and that you have healthy finances to complete the negotiations. After all, the seller does not want the inconvenience of accepting an offer that is unlikely to go through in the end.

Usually, a respectable deposit is one that is ten percent of the total property purchase price. You can keep the deposit in the bank, ready to give when your offer is approved. Alternatively, many agents offer credit card options wherein the deposit stays within a secure agent account for about seven to ten days while the lawyers finalise the contract and then the deposit money transfer is done.

Do not forget about the plusvalia tax in Spain either. This is the local income tax that town hall charges on properties once the sale happens. The tax covers the amount the land has increased in value since it was last sold. If the seller has held the land for a lengthy time, then it will be higher than if the land is held for a shorter time. The vendor is responsible for paying this tax. Make sure there is mention of this tax (in writing) in the offer negotiations. If you are buying a plot of land where no house yet exists, and there is no topographical survey, you may want to offer a price on a Euro-per-square measurement that is subject to negotiation.

Many people reason that it is best to leave room to expand a first offer, following up with a higher second offer if the seller wants more money. However, if you think that your initial offer is reasonable, then you may not expect a counter offer or may not want to up your offer amount if a counter offer does occur. If you are interested in other options, letting the vendor know this may not be a bad idea, that way he will know that his property is not the only one you are considering.

About Property Purchase Tax in Spain

As a buyer on the Costa del Sol, you have to pay transfer tax (I.T.P.) whether the property is a villa, apartment, land or a commercial space. The only exceptions are if the vendor is a developer, or you are in the business of reselling properties.

The amount of purchase tax you have to pay varies depending on the minimum fiscal value given by the regional government of the property. If that value is higher than the price, you pay 8%of the amount up to a maximum 400,000€ (with exceptions being made for stand-alone garages). That percentage to pay increases to 9% on the amount between 400.000€ and 700.000€, and is 10% for the amount over 700.000€

There is also VAT and STAMP DUTY, with amounts to pay varying depending on the type of property (such as new or resale villas, plots of land or commercial premise). If you are not sure of the commercial details, refer to your estate agent for assistance.

Notary and Property Registry Fees are approximately 3,000€. The cost increases according to the number of pages or complexity of the title deed, and value of the property.

Lawyer's fees are around 1% of the selling price depending on the price of the property and the law firm you are using.

You should be looking at total buying costs of around 10.5% for resale properties and around 13% for new properties including your lawyer's fees.

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Upon Offer Acceptance

When an offer is accepted, it is best practice to ask your lawyer to check the property ownership for liens or any other issues. The lawyer also draws up the final contract, which holds you and the seller to it legally. You will both eventually sign the public deeds in the presence of a Spanish Notary, at which time the purchase price balance is paid and you as the buyer are officially granted possession of the property.

By using this complete buyer's guide to Marbella, you are more likely to have a smooth experience finding the right property, negotiating for the property and gaining possession of it. Should you have any questions please get in touch and we'll be happy to help.