Selling your home in Spain

Selling your home

Hints and Tips on getting the best price and a quick sale.

Introduction

Marketing

Preparing your home for sale

Viewings

Completing The Sale

Introduction

Buying or selling a home can be a very traumatic experience, particularly when this is in a foreign country and you are unable to speak the language and are unfamiliar with the local practises.
Whilst there is no shortage of buyers there are new properties being built all the time, which are aggressively marketed by companies offering low cost inspection trips.
The following advice is in the form of hints and tips on all aspects of the 'Sales Process', but is not intended as a substitute for proper legal advice.
Be sure to employ a solicitor, who is recommended and independent from all other parties involved in the sales process. They should also be fluent in Spanish and English, thus avoiding any mis-understandings.
Do not be tempted to cut costs by not using a solicitor.

Marketing

Pricing

When pricing your property you need to consider whether you are looking for a quick sale or whether you areResearch the local market and check the sales prices of similar properties.
You don't need to be the cheapest to get viewings, but you do need to be realistic in your pricing and be prepared to justify why your property is worth more than similar properties in the area.
Remember that the advertised prices are rarely the price paid by a buyer and you need to allow a margin for negotiation. Every buyer likes to feel that they have got a bargain and looks to negotiate a discount on the asking price.

Direct Sales

Whilst many sellers are tempted to try and sell their homes privately and avoid agents commission, it can prove very difficult in a depressed market, unless you have a unique property which can be easily found and there are also only a limited number of similar properties for sale in your area.
There are various ways to market your home privately, including:
* 'For Sale' or 'Se Vende' sign on the property. This is a low cost option, which can be useful, but please be sure to include your mobile phone number and be sure to replace faded signs ( which suggest the property has been on the market for a long time ). When taking phone calls remember never say that you are not at home as the call could be from a burglar parked outside your home.
* Local Newspaper advertisement - these costs can soon mount up and adverts often attract calls from agents offering their services.
* Specialist property magazine - this can be either the glossy magazines or weekly publications, such as Daltons Weekly
* UK Newspaper advert in your home town - this is low cost and less competition, but with less potential buyers amongst the readers.
* Internet Advertising - this offers access to a worldwide market. CostaDreams offers Free Internet Advertising to private sellers.

Selling through an Agent

If you have decided to use an Agent, do not sign an exclusive contract, but instead select three or four local agents taking the following into consideration:
* Fees - Some agents charge outrageous fees, which ultimately means that you will receive less, as the buyer will be looking at the total purchase cost. We suggest you do not consider any agents charging more than 3% or €6000
* Company offices - are they conveniently located for passing trade and do they seem busy
* Staff - are they approachable and professional
* Company website - does it look professional, is it easy to search for properties, does the site focus on resales or new build
* Where do they advertise - local papers, periodicals, overseas publications
* Do they have overseas offices - try and achieve a good coverage e.g. UK, Ireland, Germany, Scandinavia, Iceland
* Agency contract - Review with your solicitor before signing and be sure that you receive any deposit paid
* Sales contract - When a buyer is found be sure that any contract is reviewed with your solicitor before signing.
    - Contracts must include dates, with penalties and/or opt outs if these dates are not met.
    - Do not accept the reservation fee as the deposit.
    - You must have a meaningful deposit of say 10% within two weeks of the reservation. Remember if you are purchasing another home you will need to make a similar commitment.


Do not display an Agent's Sale Board on your property - this advertises the agency and not your property.
A private "Se Vende" sign is a better option - if they are interested in your property they will contact you, rather than going to the agent, who will give them details on other properties.

The Internet

Whilst there is no shortage of buyers there are new properties being built all the time, which are aggressively marketed by companies offering low cost inspection trips.

By advertising on the web you can bring your property to the attention of a worldwide audience of potential buyers, who can see full details of your property and make a shortlist of properties to view on a private inspection trip.

Most buyers who live overseas will have less than two weeks to make a decision and will view no more than ten properties; it is important to ensure that they have as much information about your home as possible to convince them to include it in their shortlist.

CostaDreams offers free advertising

Preparing your home for sale

To achieve a quick sale and the best price for your property you need to prepare the property for sale. Remember that buyers usually form their first impressions within 30 seconds, so do make sure that the approach to the house is tidy and in a good state of repair and that the property looks 'inviting' when you open the door.

Most of the following tips are common sense, but nevertheless many are often overlooked:

Outside

In general most buyers will be looking for low maintenance gardens, where they can relax rather than very large gardens requiring constant cleaning, pruning and weeding.
Be sure to tidy up the garden, brush & mop tiled areas, clean windows and don’t leave garden tools and childrens toys on show.
It is also worth spending a little time and money to freshen up the paintwork, replace old house signs, letterboxes and old doormats.

Cleaning

Spring Clean your house from top to bottom before putting on the market.

Repairs

Carry out any necessary repairs before you put the house up for sale. Broken tiles, damaged light fittings, etc. all give a poor impression.

Maintenance

It can take months to sell your home so be sure to keep it properly maintained and if the house is going to be unoocupied you will need to employ somebody reliable to keep it clean and the garden tidy. It is important that the house does not appear to have been on the market and neglected for sometime.

Clutter

You probably plan to sift through your home and get rid of unusedand unwanted items anyway - Do it now!! Clutter will make your home seem smaller and disorganized

Decorate and de-personalise

This may seem an unnecessary expense, but remember that you are probably competing for a buyer against new build properties.
Neutral colours tend to sell and white, magnolia or cream walls will make your home appear both larger and brighter.
Throw out old furniture and try to keep family photographs and ornaments, which are on display, to a minimum.
Remove anything which could alienate buyers e.g. religious or political items.

Lighting & Furnishings

Rooms need to be bright so make sure that all the light fixtures work and that you have table or floor lamps in darker corners. Use light curtains and cushions to brighten up dark furniture.
Mirrors will give the impression of more space.
Flowering plants or silk flowers will bring life to a room, but get rid of any overgrown green plants, which have taken over the room.

Viewings

Preparation

Each viewing is an opportunity to sell your home and must be treated seriously.
For most sellers this will probably be the most important business meeting in your life; you are negotiating the sale of a property for a six or seven figure sum.
You will not get a second chance with a potential buyer and a casual approach will inevitably lead to the property being on the market longer and you having to accept a lower offer.
All members of the family who are going to be present during the viewing should be properly prepared ( if you have a large family or guests staying with you, this is a good time for them to be out as the house will look smaller and cluttered and your buyers will not be at ease ).
Your home must be at its best and it is well worth spending time cleaning and tidying, before each viewing. This is tedious and tiring, but the better the job you make of it the faster you will sell the property and be able to get back to a normal life.

The following hints and tips will take you through the process of preparing you and your home for viewings.

Buyer Questions

Don't fall into any traps with the following questions - have your answers prepared and tailor them to reflect what individual buyers want to hear.
* Why are you moving? Never quote negative reasons and always stress that you will be sorry to leave your home.
Good answers are family reasons, such as parents in the UK need your support and care or a new grandchild, or the desire for a larger or smaller home.
* Where are you moving to?
If it is back to the UK or Ireland, then remember to be positive about life in Spain and consider the comments above when asked why?
If you are moving to another area of Spain, talk about positive reasons for the change of area e.g friends or family live there, closer to work, closer to school etc.
* What are your neighbours like?
People want to hear that neighbours are pleasant and sociable, helpful in an emergency, but not intrusive. Be careful before saying that neighbours are rarely there; as this suggests that the neighbouring homes may become neglected or let to unruly holidaymakers.
* Why is your house dearer than one locally?
Act surprised then stress all the positive aspects of your home e.g. extras such as air conditioning, alarms, grilles, etc. , well maintained, south facing. Never make negative comments about the competition, just stress features that add to the value and desirability of your home.
* Are you prepared to consider an offer?
Always look for something in return for any price reduction, so a response like 'I have already priced the property to be competitive with other similar properties locally, but I would be prepared to accept a small reduction in the price if you are prepared to put down a deposit of 10% before the end of the week and complete the purchase within four weeks.

Information for Buyers

The following queries may crop up in conversation or may be useful selling aids.
Costs of electricity, gas, water, SUMA ( council charges), Cable TV, community charges etc.
Locations of beaches, swimming pool, golf courses, shops, medical centre, banks, supermarkets and restaurants.
Bus or taxi service - availability & costs
UK TV channels - availability & costs

Children

If you children are going to be in the house during viewings; it is best to tidy away the toys and clutter and sit them down in front of the TV or with a DVD if there is nothing suitable for them to watch.
On the positive side buyers will be reassured to know that you can get English TV stations.

Pets

Pets can prove an unwanted distraction to both buyers and sellers.
* Pets must be kept under control; if possible ask neighbours to look after them during viewings.
* Put pet beds, litter trays, toys etc. out of sight
* Get rid of any pet odours; oil burners are probably more discrete than air freshners.

Viewings through Agents

* Do not accept short notice appointments - you need time to prepare your home properly. Serious buyers and professional agents understand this.
* Be sure to get the names of the buyers - it helps to build a rapport with the buyers. Exchange phone numbers and email addresses - you may need to check progress directly with the buyer.
* Find out their buying reasons - ask questions and be a good listener - remember everything you say must support the selling process
* Is your property a good match for their requirements - or is the agent using your property to pad out the day
* Beware of the agent's motives - they may show resales only to emphasise the benefits of buying a new build home
* Let the agent handle the selling process - only if you are confident in their ability and knowledge
* Be prepared to take control - if you feel that the agent is just showing rather than 'selling' your home; you must get involved. You won't get a second chance with these potential buyers - don't waste the opportunity

Private Viewings

The process is very similar to viewings through agents, but you have to do the "selling"
* Avoid viewings where buyers knock on the door or ring you and ask if it convenient to look round then - be polite and flexible, but arrange a time later that day or another day, allowing yourself time to prepare properly.
* Before you start exchange names, phone numbers and email addresses - write them down and keep the paper with you, nothing is worse than forgetting their names during the viewing
* Find out their buying reasons - ask questions and be a good listener - remember everything you say must support the selling process
* Involve everyone - adults and children - they will all be involved in the decision on what property to buy. Parents can be swayed for or against a property by the reaction of the children
* Ask considered questions, before making comments - some buyers are looking for a peaceful retreat and others may be looking for pubs and clubs.
* Match your property to their requirements - talk about how it meets their needs.

Completing The Sale

If the buyer has indicated that he wants to go ahead, you need to agree a price and timescale for completion and get a contract drawn up by your solicitor and signed by the buyer within days.

Be sure to employ a solicitor, who is recommended and independent from all other parties involved in the sales process. They should also be fluent in Spanish and English, thus avoiding any mis-understandings.

Do not be tempted to cut costs by not using a solicitor.