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Where to look

Key websites for  properties and what to look for.

Property websites in Spain have improved since we first arrived and it's now perfectly possible to use the internet to find a house or to search for a house. Having said that not every property is advertised and, perhaps more importantly, not every house is advertised very well. You'd be surprised to find professional real estate agents providing comparatively little detail about a house, or pictures or images that fail to do the house justice.

If you are looking, you'll tend to focus on the number of bedrooms or square metres. We've tended to move to use the square metres definition more than the number of bedrooms (habitacions). The reason is that the number of bedrooms doesn't necessarily reflect the size of house. We've seen 4 bedroom houses which turn out to have two lounges plus a study as additional rooms, or houses with a complete separate one or two bedroom apartment. A house with a larger square meterage is more likely to have these 'bonus' rooms. The one proviso about this is that different houses and different agents measure houses in different ways. Sometimes square meters includes terraces and the roof (particularly in town), in other areas it will include a large underground garage. In general you add up the space per floor - so a three storey building seems bigger, but will have a smaller 'superficie' - the ground space taken. Similarly on gardens, normally houses are quoted with a plot size - so a house with a 100m2 superficie on 400m2 would really have 300m2 of garden. Plot sizes for modern houses tend to be relatively standardised - 400, 600, 800 or 1000m2, with restrictions on the size of the house that can be built.

If you know where you are looking, Trovit aggregates results from other websites. If you are looking at a region or area, then it might be better to start with Habitaclia, Fotocasa or Idealista which are better at giving a regional view. The sites go up and down as they compete with each other, but we'd probably start with Habitaclia now. Yaencontre is a useful site if you want to search via a map, but has fewer (but better quality properties) than the other sites.

To start with it's quite tough learning where the locations are - particularly as houses on urbanisations (so 2-3 miles from a village) are shown as being in the town or village. There are quite large estates behind Lloret for instance. Most town properties will be terraced and older. In towns, the traditional catalan style is vaulted roofs downstairs and terraces more than gardens, perhaps with a roof terrace.

Most people from overseas are more interested in villas and these are more typically on estates. Do check what facilities the estates have. Sometimes it's a long way to get to shops or bars or other facilities and on some estates you may find that in the winter the place is basically closed.


Next article: Getting serious

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