I wrote this article to share my experience in searching and buying a home in Spain, specifically in the region of Malaga. The five steps in this article are based on my experience.
I hope it will help others to make more informed decisions when purchasing a home in Spain. I will also share mistakes I have made, so you can avoid them.
Spain is made up of many regions or Autonomous Communities. The map below lists these regions…
Here are several articles that you can read to learn more about some popular cities to live and buy a home in Spain
- Guide to moving and living in Barcelona
- Guide to moving and living in Alicante
- Guide to moving and living in Malaga (coming soon)
You have the possibility of saving money in real estate agency commissions by searching for houses advertised online and contacting directly to the owner. Both you and the owner will pay no commissions. This option is not recommended if you are not familiar with the spanish real estate market and all the bureaucracy needed to buy a house.
These are the popular platforms that are used for searching a home, being the first the most popular:
In this article I will focus on Idealista as it is the most popular in Spain. However, depending on the areas searched, Fotocasa may yield better results.
The additional expenses that you need to factor in when purchasing your home consists of taxes, notary, registry, real estate agency commissions, etc.
In general, in Spain the purchase costs of homes range from 10 and 14% of the purchase value. These additional costs can determine if you are able to afford the home or not. In my case, for example, I was not aware in the beginning what the percentage of expenses would be and after finding out that it was more than my budget I had forfeit the purchase.
Thus, it is important to know upfront when choosing your home your percentage of expenses.
One I learnt about all the expenses, I was optimistic and added a 10% of the purchase cost and my calculations were as follows:
Total purchase costs: €150.000 (my budget) * 10% (purchase costs) * = €15.000
150.000- €15.000= €135.000 final purchase price
Based on the above calculations I determined that my search should be based on homes with a purchase price of around €135,000 (around $147,000)
You must take into account your calculations on the purchase costs (in the previous section) and the area in which you intend to buy.
In my case, with a final purchase price of 135,000€ the best house I could find was as follows:
– Type: I had no options to buy new homes, so my only option was to buy a second hand home.
– Size: The more rooms inside an apartment implies higher rental returns and also higher revaluation over time. According to my searches in web portals within the previously owned houses, I had access to houses with a maximum of three rooms (bedrooms). I would have preferred 4 bedroom properties but in the Spanish market these are hard to find, making them more expensive and surpasses my budget.
Everyone wants a home in the city center, but high demand leads to high costs. Taking the time to plan for the area according to your purchasing means is crucial, so you can explore the possibilities you have and get the best returns, especially if you are looking to buy a rental property and/or a house that can maintain the highest revaluation overtime as possible.
I have listed below the steps (screen captures) that I did to help me with my property search. Because I was not very familiar with all of the neighborhoods in Malaga, I found Idealista was very useful in helping me breakdown the total homes search results by region. In addition, the filters found on the left side of the map results, helped me narrow down what is available base on my budget, the number of rooms preferences, etc.
In my case, with the budget I had entered, I found out that were very few to none results available in the city center but there were more results (yellow pins) on the west part of the city (left side of the map)
Here are the main steps that I followed in my search in Idealista…
Idealista’s detailed map allowed me to learn the names of the neighborhoods where the available properties are located and research on Google to see if they were a popular place to live and/or if they are dangerous area to avoid. I also searched in other online forums, such as Forocoches (mainly in spanish).
Apart from my research I also asked local people about good and bad areas during my visits to the city.
After the metioned research I decided to focus my apartment hunt in the area of Estacion Maria Zambrano (also known as “Vialia”). I learned that Estacion Maria Zambrano is the main train and bus station in the city and that is next to a large shopping center. This area belongs to the neighborhood called “Cruz de humilladero” on the Idealista map below.
As you can see in the images above, Idealista breaks down into further details of the neighborhood (shown in the map). Cruz de Humilladero is made up of several sub-zones and the the most expensive zone is called “Cruz de Humilladero”, which is the area surrounding Maria Zambrano train station…
When I was looking at which areas to buy in Cruz del Humilladero, I discovered that the prices of the properties were different across the map of the same area and I didn’t understand why.
Looking at map diagram (above), the properties to the right side of Maria Zambrano are more expensive than the properties on the left (many yellow pins).
The prices gets even more expensive as the properties get even closer to city center and cheaper as properties are further away from the center.
For example, when I viewed the properties that are on the left side of the map and going towards the west side (Torremolinos), the prices drops even further. I found out that these areas are less “attractive”. With cheaper housing available can also attract more social problems making the neighborhoods less safe.
What I found interesting is that you can have two houses separated only 150 meters apart, and yet the price can differ by more than €100,000 !! This depends on location, for example if they are closer to the city center (the east side of the station- Perchel neighborhood or on the east side- Cruz de humilladero).
I hope this article help you in your search for a home in Spain and make the process less stressfull.