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Barcelona Village - content area

Buying a house

After five years, it's time to settle down and we took the plunge to buy a house

We've been looking at buying a house here for the last few years, generally watching the housing market in Spain collapse, with the consequent drop in prices. Unfortunately, it's not just the price of houses that has declined, the exchange rate also fell - so we're probably about even.

Looking for house has meant that we have spent a lot of time looking at the property sites - Idealista, Habitaclia, Trovit, Fotocasa, yaencontre and Pisos.com have been the main sources of information - we tend to scan all of them. Trovit is sort of a meta site in that it lists properties from some of the other sites.

It's useful to keep an eye on what's happening on a regular basis before you properly start contacting agents about buying a house. You will see houses advertised at different prices by different agents, and you will also see prices decline without a formal announcement of a price drop. So if you are watching you get a more accurate sense of how house prices are changing. The official figures suggest prices are dropping 5-6% per year, but in reality in the past 3 years many properties have seen their value half. Particularly if you're looking to buy from a cash-strapped property developer (there are pros and cons to buying new though).

Our experience to date has been that many Spanish Estate agents are relatively poor at responding to emails or electronic contacts. Some are good, but it depends on the company. It's been a bit of a surprise given how slow the housing market is here, but in general Spain is still not very 'electronic' in it's business dealings.

Obviously, the first place to start is the location, type of house you want and the price. Will Barcelona be important to you? Do you need to commute? Or are you after the coast or countryside? In general, if you want a detached house you'll probably end up on an urbanisation - which means needing a car; if you want to be near a school or village, it's much more difficult to find anything but a terraced house (also called Rustic, though not rustic as in the middle of nowhere). Lots of other places can tell you about the ups and downs of buying a finca or more remote property. For us, we wanted something in walkable distance to a village school but with a reasonable size garden - turns out this is a challenging specification.

Where to look

Key websites for  properties and what to look for.

Getting serious

Once you start to find houses you are interested in you'll need to start to understand the buying processes.

Foreign Exchange

Transferring large amounts of money from sterling to Euros can have lots of hidden costs and hidden issues. Some cautions.

Mortgages

The process and experiences of getting a mortgage


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