Perhaps it should be six decisions, as your very first one has already been taken; that of buying a property in Spain. When it comes to choosing the property to buy, you can be truly spoilt for choice at the moment with house prices at their lowest level since the early 2000s and so much on the market. You could feel overwhelmed if you don’t begin to narrow your search just a little.

At Easy Spain we think there are perhaps five initial decisions that you must make before you buy your property.

Decision one: Where do I want my property to be? This is perhaps the most immediately crucial decision. You need to consider:

  • What part of the country you would like it to be in. Further north and the weather is more temperate in the summer but positively chilly in the winter; towards the south it’s a much drier landscape
  • If you want to live by the coast or more inland. This could make a big difference to the cost of your property too with coastal properties generally being much more expensive
  • If you want to live in an area populated by your own nationality or in a Spanish environment
  • If you want to be close to facilities or out in the country. When considering this, keep in mind too how your needs might change in the future

Decision two: Would you prefer resale or new build in Spain?  Since the recession new build properties are not quite as numerous as they were before. Although building has started again in some areas, you may find that you are fairly limited in choice if you do decide to opt for new build.

However, on the plus side, you should find that these properties are of a better quality than perhaps you’d have bought before with improved insulation and fixtures and fittings.  Many people still like the option of starting from scratch and benefitting from the guarantees which new property provides.

If you do opt for resale then you will have a wider choice of specification for the property. The taxes you pay are different too. You have transfer tax to pay on a resale property but on new build in Spain there is IVA (VAT) and stamp duty. However, overall, there isn’t a lot of difference in how much tax you will have to pay whichever you opt for.

Of course, with a resale property you see the property for what it is. You can meet the neighbours, see the local facilities and recognise how the property and its urbanisation will mature.

Decision three: What must your property have? You will probably be flexible on some aspects of it. The number of bedrooms, bathrooms and living rooms can usually be flexible although you may have a minimum requirement. However, it is likely that there will be some non-negotiables in your house specification. It is useful if you do decide before setting out what these are. For example:

  • Are there access needs that mean that a flat is out of the question?
  • Do you have a pet and require grounds to your property?
  • Is storage space important? Might you live there in the future and need to bring over your own furniture?
  • Are you DIY hopeless and therefore need a property that is well-maintained or would you like a refurbishment challenge?

Then there are the flexible decisions that you might compromise on:

  • Would you like an individual pool or are you happy with a community pool?
  • How many bedrooms are ideal for you?
  • Do you need a garage? For most properties street parking will probably not be a problem but if you are looking to buy in a town this could be a focal part of your decision
  • How much outside space would you like? Most people like to have some terraced area for entertaining and enjoying the sunshine. Gardens will require maintenance if you are not here all the time.

Decision four: How much can you afford? Arguably this decision should come first. It certainly needs to be considered at the same time as deciding the size, location and specification of your property. It’s important that you set your budget and that you stick to it. It’s so easy to be tempted to push your threshold just a little bit higher.

But you want your home in Spain to be a pleasure and not a burden. Setting your sights too high can mean that you have to cut back in other areas, including the time you spend enjoying it!

Remember that it’s not just the cost of the house itself that you have to budget for. There are fees that you must allow for too. These include:

  • Taxes – these will depend upon the type of property you buy
  • Legal fees for the purchasing process
  • External costs – such as the notary

In addition you may have mortgage costs if this is how you will finance your new purchase. It is probably wise to allow for at least 15% in addition to the price of the house. However, this does vary and is usually a higher proportion of the overall cost of a smaller property as some of the costs are fixed.

When working out your budget you should also take into account the running costs for the property. Check before you buy how much the utility fees such as electricity, water and refuse will be. Most Spanish properties have community fees to pay to maintain any shared areas. You will also have IBI property tax (council tax) to pay and, if you are a non-resident, there will be either rental tax or imputed income tax to pay depending on whether you decide to rent out your property or not.

Decision five: What process will you use? You have a number of choices here. Would you prefer to come on an inspection visit where the portfolio of houses you see will be selected for you or will you come out yourself and do a tour of estate agents? Will you use the internet to narrow your search for a property or start by walking the streets?

However you decide to do it, what’s important is to make sure that you get professional help and advice. Property needs to be checked in Spain for legal compliance and you should not try and cut corners on this very important part of the process.

With these five decisions under your belt you should now be able to go out confidently and find a home to suit you; knowing that you have considered carefully the different options. This way, it should work out that the home you end up with is the one that you deserve

If you would like us to help you find your ideal property click here