That was the verdict when I met Stephanie and Greg Brown. Stephanie and Greg had long been planning their retirement in Spain but there were a few last minute surprises that meant they didn’t have much time to arrange their trip out there to find their ideal property.
‘We suddenly had a brilliant offer on our house,’ explains Stephanie. ‘It was one of those offers you can’t refuse and they were cash buyers. They were anxious to complete as soon as possible and so we suddenly found ourselves contemplating a move in a few weeks rather than a few months, as we’d originally intended.’
They decided that the short time frame would mean that they would have to stay with friends whilst they found a property in Spain to buy. ‘There just wasn’t the time,’ says Greg. ‘We were suddenly catapulted into a flurry of activity. We had to find somewhere to store our furniture, we had to cancel our post and make all those arrangements that you usually have the luxury of weeks or months even to organise.’
Whilst their arrangements were being made hastily in the UK, they were also desperately trying to arrange to view properties in Spain. ‘It was far harder than we expected,’ says Greg. ‘Dealing with different estate agents, trying to co-ordinate arrangements so that we could see a few properties at the same time was a nightmare.’
They allowed themselves six days for their property tour and had hoped to get round at least three properties a day. It didn’t work out like that. ‘We’d find a property on a website, contact the estate agent and then discover that it had already been sold,’ says Stephanie. ‘Eventually we did make arrangements to view eight properties – not the twelve minimum we’d promised ourselves.’
Arriving in Spain they found that communication wasn’t as easy as they’d thought. ‘Some of the estate agents had appeared to speak very good English when we were emailing them,’ says Greg. ‘It was a different matter when we turned up to talk to them. Some couldn’t speak any English, or very little and with at least two of the properties we viewed there was a great deal that was lost in translation.’
Not all of the properties lived up to their expectations either. ‘The first one was really dark and dingy. Not what I was expecting from a home in Spain. Another was isolated up a rural track, we didn’t want that either. The descriptions of properties were so deceptive.’
On their sixth day, they at last found a property that they thought they could fall in love with. ‘It was on the outskirts of Torrevieja and had everything we were looking for. The right number of rooms, a community pool, a terrace area for us to enjoy the sun. It was even in the right price range – we were delighted.’
‘We’d find a property on a website, contact the estate agent and then discover that it had already been sold,’ says Stephanie
They made an offer, had it accepted and were starting to visualise their life in Spain. ‘We thought we’d cracked it,’ says Stephanie, ‘and even celebrated with champagne on the plane back to the UK.’
When they got back, however, they discovered that they’d been celebrating a little too early. The solicitors who they’d engaged to do the conveyancing before they left had started to uncover lots of problems with the property. ‘The property did not have a habitation certificate. There were issues with the contracts for electricity and water. The solicitors advised us that if we took this property on we could find ourselves facing lots of difficulties.’
Although Stephanie and Greg could afford to arrange another tour, they wanted to make sure this time that the properties they were going to see were both what they had in mind and were problem-free. ‘It was so disappointing,’ says Stephanie. ‘We did like the property in the end but couldn’t risk taking on all the associated problems there were with licences. Second time around we’re going to do it differently.’
Property Finder is an Easy Spain service that would have prevented this happening to Stephanie and Greg. With Property Finder all the properties that are suggested to clients have previously been checked to make sure that they are legal and ‘problem-free’. The couple would have had all their viewing arranged for them and would have been helped at every stage by one of our fluent English-speakers.
Stephanie. ‘We did like the property in the end but couldn’t risk taking on all the associated problems there were with licences. Second time around we’re going to do it differently.’
The search to find a property can sound like an exciting one but is potentially fraught with difficulties. Language barriers, lack of knowledge of the system along with all the usual problems you’d also find in your own country, can make it more of a headache than a happy occasion. A service like Property Finder can remove the stress, simplify the process and make it a much more enjoyable experience from start to finish.