Tag Archives: Alicante

What is the difference between a Property Finder and an Estate Agent?

What is the difference between a Property Finder and an Estate Agent?

An Estate Agent is a business or company that lists properties to sell, taking a commission from the owners at the point of sale for the process of facilitating the sale through advertising and finding the buyer. We are all familiar with their role. There are various professional bodies who oversee and regulate the industry, in the UK that is the NAEA (National Association of Estate Agents).

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So what is a Property Finder?

An estate agent works FOR the vendor (seller) so their job is to sell the house. The interests of the buyer are therefore secondary by definition. A Property Finder is someone working for the buyer, not a business interested in selling what is on their books (because they don’t actually list anything and are not answerable to a vendor), but in FINDING the right property at the right price in the right location for the client – the buyer.
As Property Finders based in the UK for Spanish property we are regulated by the AIPP, Association of International Property Finders, which in turn in the UK is also part of NAEA, so you get all the protection of NAEA plus additional protections from the AIPP.

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What do we do?

By working with the buyer we, as Property Finders, establish the criteria. In some cases the budget and criteria will not match the chosen location, so by working with the client a Property Finder can establish which points cannot be compromised and in which areas there may be an alternative or a compromise to bring the right property in on budget. We establish together a list of priorities, absolute must haves, definite don’t likes and desirable extras.
Every buyer has a different list of priorities so every client receives personal attention. We look in a wide area but actually know all the areas where we search. For instance, a client buying a holiday home or holiday rental investment is not particularly effected by how sort after the local primary school will be, but a family relocating will need to know school options.
A property finder is not limited to one list of properties so can assess the suitability of properties listed by a range of reputable agents as well as other sources, giving a far wider choice. The client also benefits from working closely with one person rather than constantly having to tell different agents what they want and trying to remember to whom they gave what information, especially as the criteria may evolve over time as certain considerations come to the fore.
Generally a Property Finder will also arrange viewings. In Spain it is common for vendors to use multiple agencies so if you view with four agencies you may actually be taken to see the same property several times, but if it wasn’t right the first time it won’t be right on subsequent visits either, so a complete waste of your time. When you are searching for a property in another country time is in limited supply and needs to be used wisely. You will want to view only the most suitable properties, not the ones the estate agent needs to sell regardless. ‘Viewing trips’ to see new developments can be frustrating times for buyers as they are shown what is being built regardless of whether it fits their criteria! A property finder is not interested in wasting your time or leaving you frustrated by seeing properties that would never be of consideration and don’t match your ‘wish list’.
A property Finder won’t pressure you into buying the wrong property. Our reputation relies on matching the client to the right property and making the process of buying that property as smooth as possible. In that respect we have built up good relationships with various reputable estate agents and other local professionals.

So why can’t you look for a house by yourself?

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You can. But if you live in the UK and want to buy in Spain do you have enough detailed first-hand knowledge of the area, the time to check out thousands of possibilities and the patience to deal with 20 estate agents all claiming they have the best properties for you? Or would you rather let someone take you through the process of buying, checking you are aware of the actual costs involved, (buying in Spain is very different and more costly than buying in the UK), have someone talk through your requirements and priorities, asking questions about your needs and how they may change over the next few years, so that when you visit everyone has clear understanding of your preferences on styles, locations, surroundings, size, age, distance to the beach, amenities, airport etc.? Many clients find we ask questions about subjects they have not yet considered that may (and often do) influence the final choice of property.

What will it cost you?

We work for clients with all budgets and therefore will not exclude those on limited budgets. In our case we do not charge our clients anything for our service because we receive a payment from the estate agent for finding the buyer for a property they have listed. Remember for you that simply means that if we don’t find the right property for you it hasn’t cost you anything. When we do find the right property you will pay no more for that property than you would have done anyway, so it still hasn’t cost you anything but will have saved you time, frustration and probably the cost of several extra visits. Plus as we negotiate hard for a good price on the right property you may actually get it for less than you would have done if you hadn’t used our service. Plus you have a Property Finder working in the background to check on the progress of your purchase, act as a sounding board at all stages, someone who has personally been through the buying process themselves and has helped many others too – a person who is not compromised in their service to you by needing to act in the interests of a vendor. Plus, once you have purchased the property we are still around to help with questions and helping with finding professionals like electricians, plumbers, keyholders and with holiday rentals if you need such services.

REMEMBER: An Estate Agent works for the vendor. A Property Finder works only for the buyer. So who will hold YOUR interests higher?

 

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My family abroad: The Big Move

The big move

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As Mum and Dad were moving full-time to Spain they decided to sell up the UK home, releasing funds for their retirement years.   Having put most of their belongings into store they moved into a small furnished flat for their last couple of months in England.  Within a week of Dad’s 60th birthday cum retirement party they headed for Moraira, but not to their own villa.  Instead they stayed up the road at the neighbour’s new villa, completed but not yet lived in, to oversee their own being built.   There were many funny stories we heard over the coming weeks and months, most long since forgotten, but some still stick in the memory.

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I do remember was how Dad arrived at the villa to meet the builder one day to find no workman there, when asked where they all were the builder simply replied that “the oranges are ready”.  It transpired that most of the workforce had family owned citrus groves and the perfect time had arrived for the oranges to be harvested so the workman had gone to the family homes to help with the fruit picking!  The builder assured Dad the workman would be back as soon as the oranges were gathered in, and they were but not for two weeks.  This also happened with other citrus fruits, almonds and olives!   I don’t think that would be tolerated these days, but it was considered perfectly reasonable at the time.

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Then the time Mum was puzzled when looking around one of the bathrooms as there was no waste pipe for the toilet.  Mum did not speak Spanish and I’m told there was great hilarity as Mum enacted what she was trying to convey (!) but once the man understood he made a few measurements then hit the floor with a heavy hammer revealing the top of the waste pipe that had been concreted over by accident!

And the time towards the end of the build when Dad pointed out a socket was missing.  The builder opened the connection box on the wall and poured a coloured liquid in and waited without saying a word.  A few minutes later a coloured patch appeared on the wall and he calmly took a hammer and hit the patch opening up the plastered over socket location!

Mum and Dad finally moved into the villa about 6 months later, the underbuild wasn’t finished, the gardens were not planted and there were still many small jobs to be completed but they were more than happy to be finally in their own home in the sun.

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My family abroad: Mum and Dad’s villa plans

 

Dad retired at 60, just over four years after they bought their plot of land.  They had chosen the plan for the villa, taking one of the builder’s standard designs and modifying, extending and altering it in numerous ways to suit their needs.  Oddly their UK neighbours also chose the same basic design and also modified it so that by the time the two houses were finished they were quite different.

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The main living area was a three bedroom single storey villa which formed the upper floor, reached by a set of stairs build around the curved front of the villa.  As the hill sloped away another lower floor (or underbuild) was created which Mum and Dad would use as the garage, utility room and huge games room with a full size table tennis table, darts area and table and chairs, with doors to a covered outside bar, barbeque area and lower garden.  (The future owners would convert this into a separate, independent apartment for guests.)  The pool was on the main living area level and above that was another garden with petanque courts and fruit trees, and above that two further high level gardens for cacti.

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Their friend’s house also had the main living area on the top floor, although this was slightly below street level.  They too had a utility area and garage in the floor below but as their plot was steeper they also had another underbuild below that which in time the friend’s turned into a home cinema with the rock of the hillside protruding into the room on one side as a feature!  Below that was the pool and garden – it was a long way down from the house terrace to the pool, if I remember correctly it was well over 40 stairs!  I think that was possibly my first lesson learnt about buying in Spain – find a reasonably a level plot if you intend staying there into your old age!

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My family abroad: Costa Blanca

My family abroad:  Costa Blanca

In the 80’s my parents begun looking around Spain for the area they considered most suitable for their own retirement.  Dad had always said he would like to retire somewhere warm, Mum was less sure about the idea but agreed to look – the extra holidays were a bonus and she had always loved looking around show houses anyway!  Having holidayed in various locations in Spain and other Mediterranean countries and islands they first considered the Balearics, but soon decided that mainland Spain would be their best option.  They checked out the Costa del Sol market but settled on North Costa Blanca as they both loved the dramatic scenery.960x640_bestfit-copy-126

The A7 motorway from Alicante airport going north had yet to be built but was planned, so each trip they had to travel through Alicante city, along the coast road (the N332) through Villajoyosa, Benidorm, Altea, Calpe, then either head slightly inland before reaching Javea and Denia or turn off to follow the minor windy coast road to Moraira.  Dad loved Moraira on the first visit.  Back in the early/mid 80’s it wasn’t the slick up-market resort it was later to brand itself – sometimes referred to as the jewel in the crown of the Costa Blanca by estate agents in the early 2000’s.  The town centre was small, old, and typically Spanish, a little tired and quiet.   In fact, Dad once described it as ‘a bit like being in the wild west’!

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They recalled the tale of how they stayed in a rather shabby hotel in town and Dad announced this was where he wanted to live.  Mum was not enamoured at all!   However she agreed that IF they could find the right house she would be prepared to ‘give it 5 years’.  Dad was still five years off retirement (which he would take at 60) so there was plenty of time, Mum figured, to change his mind!  Several trips later they concluded that the only way to get the house they wanted was to have one built so they started to hunt for a plot of land in Moraira.

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My family abroad: The beginning

My family abroad:  The beginning

My aunt and uncle were the first people in the family to buy a property in Spain.  In the mid 80’s they bought an apartment on the Costa del Sol, a small Spanish fishing town called Fuengirola near Malaga.  I didn’t visit there until 2012 and by then it had grown to a huge and very busy town busting with people.  Initially they bought the apartment as a holiday home, about 10 minutes’ walk to the marina/port area in a small apartment block overlooking a park.  Their neighbours were all Spanish, they had deliberately avoided an ex-pat community.

My aunt and uncle worked hard on learning Spanish as they intended to integrate as much as possible into the local community when they moved there in their retirement.  They had a neighbour in the UK whose sister had moved to the town in the 60’s with her daughters and the lady, Doreen, agreed to look after the apartment while they were in England.  They had several years of visiting the apartment before their retirement and it was on one such trip that they took my widowed Grandad with them.  I was told that when he and Doreen met it was love at first sight!  There cannot be many who emigrate at the age of 86 years old but before my aunt and uncle retired my Grandfather packed his bags and moved to Fuengirola to be with Doreen, who was only a couple of years older than my Dad.

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Not that long after my aunt and uncle moved permanently to Spain.  Grandad stayed after Doreen passed away, spending his last few weeks in a Spanish nursing home at almost 95 years old.  My uncle passed away a few years later but my aunt has stayed, still in the same apartment, and now in her early 80‘s is still active and leads a busy life in her adopted country.

Also in the 80’s my parents were visiting various parts of Spain, searching for a place they felt they wanted to call home.  And so my family abroad had begun.

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Memories of a young Traveller – Don’t drink the water!

Concrete Jungle The Place I love

Torrevieja

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The town of Torrevieja is a short drive from our house.  The small city dates back to 1802 and is named after the old watch tower (Torre = tower and Vieja = old).  I have heard a number, and read a lot more, comments on how awful the place is and how crime-ridden by people who have not been there in recent years (if at all).  So large cities with high rise are not my kind of place but to my surprise I find I like many parts of this particular city.

The buildings are, in the main, not that tall.  In fact smaller than other large tourist towns I know well in the northern Costa Blanca such as Calpe, Denia, Javea and of course, Benidorm (which I don’t know well as one visit was enough!).  The place is truly international with influences from as far apart as Italy and the Caribbean, with one of the most diverse populations in Spain.  In 2014 the population is recorded as 108.063 of which around 47,000 are Spanish and the rest a wide mix from across the globe.  Native English speakers make up about 11%-12% of the total population, which is pretty much in line with the overall percentage in Spain and lower than some other coastal towns. To give you some idea of how the town has expanded the current population is around four times larger than in 1990 and twice that of 2000.

The town’s blue flag beaches, long promenade, fishing port, yacht club and harbour make up the sea front.  Much of the tourist area of town has undergone an up-date with new pedestrianised areas, new theatre, new out of town concert venue, new tourist information office and much more.  The narrow streets are packed with individual shops and bars run by the Spanish, not ex-pats, with residential apartments above, many to only five storeys.  The town has somehow maintained its identity whilst catering for international visitors which swell its number to 500,000 in high season.

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So is it crime ridden?  In the past the police force was over-stretched due to the very rapid expansion of the town, which stopped when the property boom ceased.  These days they seem much more on top of things and crime rates are comparable to other medium sized sea-side resorts.  As with resorts, cities and busy market places around the world there are pick-pockets and other opportunistic criminals taking advantage of the relaxed holiday makers.  But this is the same the world over.  If you take care of your belongings you will be ok.  As for comments I have read about ‘bars on windows’ I can’t help but laugh.  Window and door grills are, and have been for longer than the tourists have been coming, part of the way Spanish properties are built.  The sudden increase in eastern Europeans living in Spain a few years ago but unable to work in Spain caused a problem as they had to steal to eat but their numbers have declined as they have realised they can do better in other countries where they can find work or claim benefits.  In recent times the fact that there is no long-term benefit help to the unemployed has left some individuals desperate and feeling they have no option but to resort to crime to feed their families has become a challenge, but overall crime rates are not something to fret about.  Since the town made it illegal to buy from the ‘looky-looky’ men with their fake goods touted on blankets along the sea front they have almost disappeared.  Do I feel safe walking around Torrevieja?  Yes.  Do I feel safe walking around London?  No.

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Perhaps one of our favourite pass-times when we go to Torrevieja is to visit Valors and enjoy their chocolate y churros, on the opposite side of the road to the square by the church of the Inmaculata Conception.  The original church, like much of the town, was destroyed by a major earthquake in 1829 and the current church was built in 1844 using the stones from the original watch tower (Torre) in the foundations.  If you have children then the fun fair and Park of Nations are a must.  Or if you prefer more cultural surroundings then have a coffee in the Casino (which is not a casino but a restaurant and art gallery and social centre).  If you are there for the right week in August then you can experience the Habaneras Festival which has been run annually in the city for over 40 years.  This is a music festival and competition where the music is a fusion of Cuban and Spanish.

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Torrevieja grew from the salt industry, still a major employer, producing half a million tons of salt a year.  There are two lakes, Laguna Salada de la Mata and Laguna Salada de Torrevieja, but they are more commonly known as the blue lake and the pink lake.  The Parque National surrounds the blue (La Mata) lake while the pink lake is a hive of industry.  The lakes, together with the Mar Menor to the south and the Santa Pola salt lakes to the north, create a unique micro climate, one the World Health Organisation lists as one of the healthiest in the world; particularly good for those who suffer with joint or respiratory problems.  Combined with the warm average winter temperatures (higher than the Costa del Sol and several degrees warmer than north Costa Blanca) of over 10 degrees (usually upper teens in the day)

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