You need to evaluate honestly what you want from your new holiday home or residence abroad. Do you want to be in the centre of things which might mean putting up with more noise or do you want a quiet location which might become boring in time. Look at the landscape. If you come from Scotland or Wales can you stand that flat landscape or if you come from Norfolk can you stand looking at those hills everywhere and are they a problem for older members of the family.
Everybody tells us that they need extra bedrooms as their family will be visiting and sadly that does not always happen and two people are left rattling around in a large house they do not need. Also remember that even in a warm country a big house needs more maintenance and heating in winter than a small one. As most Europeans are used to cold and wet weather for more of the year than we have here, their first priority is open spaces where they can sit out. Unfortunately, people forget that in Spain shade is of more importance than sun. You get baked doing the shopping, baked hanging out the washing, baked walking to the car and baked chatting to the neighbours so you do need spaces to sit in but you also need spaces to be in the open air but cool so always consider shaded areas when buying.
When looking for a house you will probably have a hire car or indeed your own car with you. However, always having to hire a car to get to your house from the airport can be costly and become a chore. Always look into the local public transport options. Say to yourself if I broke my leg while I was here and could not drive, how would I get back to the airport. If the answer is I couldn't then you need to reconsider the location.
Always remember that those shops the agent pointed out which are only half a mile from the property donâ€™t seem that far away on the first visit but by the time you have used the house for 6 months that half mile might seem like 10 miles when you need a carton of milk. When you are on holiday you might not always want to cook and a good local bar serving food or local restaurant could be very important to you so check out what is on offer in the local area.
You must be completely honest with yourself as to what kind of environment you want to spend time in. There is nothing which makes people more unhappy than feeling isolated. If you like things the same as at home but with sun then that is absolutely fine but you need to pick a destination to suit. Somewhere with a lot of English speakers and offering menus and products which will be familiar to you. Likewise if you want to get completely away from your fellow countrymen and break new frontiers then you need to choose a location which provides a very Spanish environment. Bearing in mind that means that you will have to hit and miss a bit when eating out, buying things in shops etc until you get a grasp of the language if you do not already speak Spanish.
When you come to Spain to look for a property accept that it may take you a couple of trips to find the right house. Properties come on and off the market daily and the house you saw last week may not still be available when you get here. The worst thing to do is feel pushed into buying because you are running out of time. If you are running out of time then walk away and come back a second trip with a clear calm head. Do not buy on impulse as you may live to regret it.
Coming to Spain to buy in June, July and August is probably not the best idea. Everything looks good to us North Europeans in the sun. A little bit of Sangria thrown in and we are anybodies. The best time to look at property unless you are buying to only be there in June, July or August is the winter. You will see what it looks like at its worst and you will be able to judge if you could cope with the area out of season. If you can manage it then visit in the winter and the summer so you get a real cross section view of the property and the area. If you cannot do two trips then prepare and ask as many questions as you can think of. Any good agent will answer you honestly.
Most people say that they would never do this but thousands of people have. You are sitting in a bar quietly having a coffee and some nice Brit says oh are you on holiday and before you think, you have said no we are here to look for a house. Then it just so happens that they are an agent or they know an agent and before you know it you are off to look at houses. Always remember that good agents are busy and have very little time to sit in bars and chat up visitors. If he is in a bar then most likely he is touting and would you buy a car off a man in a bar?
ny good agent will be happy to give you a list of solicitors and translators. It is part of their job but when they start pushing you towards one person or company be wary. Many people have ended up in all sorts of trouble by using a solicitor or translator recommended by an agent and above all never use someone from their office who they say is a solicitor or translator. If they are working in their office then they are on their side not yours.
Most agents assure you that they will be there for you after you buy. Sadly, that will not always be the case. Some good agents do offer and provide a very comprehensive after sales service but many provide nothing. Within a week of buying you will be lucky if they remember your name and face far less the promise they made. Being left in a foreign country with problems after you buy is a very unhappy situation to be in so make sure you ask about their after sales service and check with some of their previous clients if you can to ensure that they are as good as their word.
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