The Spanish property market is well established and was booming until 2007. According to the U.K.’s Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors, registered sales in Spain peaked in 2006. But by the third quarter of 2009, sales had fallen by 40 percent due to a combination of oversupply and the global economic downturn.
That was good news for buyers, who could find a property in Javea at a much-reduced price. Thanks to Covid-19, this scenario is currently repeated, as, during 2020 and the first quarter of 2021, it was practically impossible to buy property anywhere in Spain due to restrictions. This has led to many sellers dropping their prices in Javea and other popular towns in Spain, and an influx of bargains again to be snapped up.
However, the Spanish property market contains some pitfalls for the unwary foreign buyer. Real estate agents in Spain are not required to have any specific qualifications, knowledge, or experience, which has led to some shady individuals taking advantage of unsuspecting buyers. However, if you never sign anything until you have taken the advice of an independent Spanish lawyer (abogado), there is no reason you should have problems.
Martin Greene, who sells exclusive properties in Javea, advises you to follow these basic steps when starting your property search.
1. Research Javea Properties
The Spanish property market thoroughly before you visit Spain, to view properties. However, it is often difficult to find reliable, independent information because much of it is provided by those who are selling property. It is advisable to use a range of different research sources, such as newspapers and magazines and the Internet.
Decide why you want to buy a Javea property. Are you looking for an investment, a vacation property, or a permanent home? Whichever it is, your selection criteria will be very different, depending on how you intend to use the property.
Visit the areas in or around Javea you are interested in, especially if you have only spent a few happy vacations there. Think about how you will use the property and check out the local facilities. If you are thinking of living permanently in Spain, visit the area several times at different times of the year. Talk to any other expats who have a property in the area, who can often give you helpful information that you may not get from an estate agent.
2. Find a Javea Estate Agent
Find a reputable bilingual estate agent. This has become increasingly difficult since deregulation in 2000, although Spanish estate agents usually belong to one of two professional organisations–API or GIPE. Members should have a higher level of training and some professional indemnity insurance, although this is not always the case. Many foreign estate agents are working in Spain, especially in areas popular with foreign buyers, including Javea and the rest of the Costa Blanca. The only guide to their reputation and professionalism is a recommendation from someone you trust.
3. Open a Bank Account
Open a Spanish bank account while you are in Spain: Take along identification, such as your passport, to open a non-resident account in euros or any foreign currency. Having a bank account in Spain will make it easier for your property purchase. You can also ask the bank about a mortgage if you need one and find out how much you might be able to borrow in principle. Mortgages are available from Spanish banks, although they have reduced their lending since the property market crash.
4. Find a Lawyer
Start looking for reputable local Spanish lawyers: Do not use a lawyer recommended by anyone with a monetary interest in selling you a property. The Citizen’s Advice Bureau website lists English-speaking independent lawyers in all areas of Spain. Your embassy or consulate in Spain can also provide lists, although they won’t make recommendations.
5. View Properties
Begin viewing properties but be prepared to return to Javea several times before you make a final decision. If you are considering living permanently in your property, it is a good idea to take a rental for at least a year to experience the area and discover what it is like year-round.