This page will outline my experience with working with a real estate agent in Barcelona to find and buy a property.
After you have identified the area in which you wish to purchase your property you need to find the real estates agents that are in that location. I found that the real estate agents in the location generally only dealt with properties in that specific location even if they were large franchise brands like Tecnocasa.
Most of the real estate agents that I spoke to could only speak Spanish. If you want professional assistance in your language, it is worth considering a specialist legal / accountancy firm that can assist you.
If you're living or want to live in Barcelona, you'll probably want to improve your Spanish. Taking a Spanish immersion course or private Spanish lessons before you start looking for properties and dealing with real estate agents and banks for mortgages might be a good idea.
Professional assistance when purchasing a property in Barcelona
If you want assistance in buying a property in Barcelona, we can recommend Barcelona Tax who may be able to help you. They are a multilingual business of tax lawyers, accountants and advising specialists that can guide you through the entire process of buying a property in Barcelona. They currently can offer assistance in English, Spanish, French, and Catalan.
Send your enquiry to Barcelona Tax using the form below.
Barcelona Tax will make every stage of the buying process, simple and straight forward.
The first stage with working with the Barcelona real estate agent is to simply look through their portfolio in their office and to give them a brief of what it is you're looking for.
It is best to be as specific as you can when describing what you want to the estate agent. Tell them that you only wish to receive calls to visit properties that meet your specifications. I found that many of the properties present in the portfolio in the office were not present on their online website. The best way to find the properties is to visit the real estate office itself.
When I first started searching with the estate agents they called a few times with properties that didn't have what I wanted. However, after informing them that I only wished to be contacted with the properties that fitted the brief I had given they were good in meeting that requirement. In all, I only visited three properties, and on the third property it was what I was looking for.
Before visiting a property the real estate agent will give you a form to fill in for each property that you are about to visit to keep a record.
When the real estate agent finds a property that meets your requirements, they will call you to arrange an appointment. I found it a good idea to meet the agent at their real estate office and then walk to the property with the agent. This way, we have little time to find background information and also have an opportunity to see what the surrounding area is like. You can also ask questions about the area in which the apartment is based en-route.
Looking at different properties can take any amount of time from a few days to a few months. It is always a good idea to look at a wide variety of property before making a decision. You will be surprised at the variety available and the variation on prices. From each visit, I found I learned something new either things I wanted in a property or things I did not want.
It is also a good idea to start speaking to banks to get an idea of what they can offer you in terms of the mortgage. I found the bank mortgage offers vary quite considerably between different institutions.
Approval of your mortgage could take up to 30 days. Although my bank said, it would take 15 days, but it took longer than that. It is a good idea to get the ball rolling as soon as possible.
Make sure you confirm with each bank what their normal turnaround time is for establishing your mortgage. This is important because once you have signed the property reserve form (mentioned below) you have a fixed amount of time to make each of the payments and in order to do this you will require access to your mortgage.
If you plan to deal with the banks yourself, make sure they'll be able to assist you in English or consider taking a Spanish course to feel more confident in case the bank can't assist you in English.
I learned that the real estate solicitor firm could also help you with establishing the mortgage. They also have quite a large number of contacts within the mortgage industry, and they may be able to find you a deal that is better than you could find on your own.
With the estate agent I was with they have their own in-house liaison with a finance company who can find a good mortgage deal for you. They charge a commission fee for this however they claim under many circumstances that they can find a better deal than you could on your own. This was not possible in my case due to the subrogation however they did find better deals on the non-subrogate mortgage than I could have found on my own and I would have considered their service if I did not elect for the subrogate mortgage.
The real estate solicitor I worked with informed me that normally it is best to contact them at the start of the buying process. Early contact with the agent is beneficial so that they can begin to search for mortgages that meet your requirements even before you have started searching for your property. This is something I would do next time because perhaps I could have found a better offer on the market if I had had more time to search for mortgages.
The stage involved in looking and assessing different properties continues until you find a property which meets your requirements. I learned that the clearer you can be on your specifications, the more likely you are to find a property since the agents will make a concerted effort to contact you when they see something that meets your exact profile. Also, they are dealing with many buyers however when a property meets your exact needs your name will jump to mind because you were so clear.
I explained I wanted a top floor apartment, in a quiet area with a view surrounded by green trees, lots of natural light in a building with a lift and within 10 minutes walk to the metro. Within a week, the estate agent had found such a property that met my brief. I can tell you that this is rare in Barcelona to have an apartment that meets the requirements I set down. The city has few green areas, and most of the city is generally noisy.
Bear in mind that the Barcelona real estate agents may also have contacts of people that are interested in selling their properties but have not yet committed to putting their property on the market. However, once an interested buyer is found the real estate agent will contact the sellers to inform them there is a prospective buyer.
Once you have found a specific property that you are interested in buying the next stage is to contact your real estate solicitor for them to check all of the paperwork is in order and available. There are quite a few checks that need to be undertaken. These include any loans on the property, potential buildings or developments that will go on in the area, the official paperwork that goes with a property, for example,:
Cedula d' Habitabilitat (certificate of habitation)
Compraventa - owners purchase contract
Copia Simple - a simple version of the purchasers contract used for general administration.
Public deed document.
Current Mortgage document for the property.
Barcelona Property Register Certificate
I found out that it was well worth paying for a solicitor firm specialising in real estate law to oversee every stage of the process because during these paperwork checks the lawyer found that there was an existing mortgage on the property with my bank. The lawyer then suggested that instead of setting up a new mortgage, I should consider a "subrogate mortgage" which basically means I would take over the existing mortgage. In doing this all of the start-up fees for establishing a new mortgage are by-passed and I saved around €2,800.00 on taking on the subrogate mortgage over setting up a new mortgage from scratch.
The real estate solicitor will liaise directly with the real estate agent at all stages of the purchasing process and will provide you with updates via email or telephone. I found this to be a welcomed time saver since I was only involved when I needed to be. The solicitor firm will run checks on every aspect of the property including outstanding bills for water, rent, or property tax etc. to make sure you are undertaking a sound investment and that there will be no surprises. I was pleased with the service from the real estate agents since they had all the necessary paperwork already organised, and they sent everything via email to my solicitor. They were completely transparent with all aspects of the purchase, and generally, they gave a first-class service.
Once the checks have been undertaken and you are sure you wish to purchase the property you need to put down a deposit on the property. This, in effect, reserves the property for you. It is best at this stage for the lawyer to overlook the paperwork involved with this before you sign anything. They will explain all of the terms and conditions involved with signing such paperwork. If there is an attractive property on the market at a competitive price and you are serious about this property, then it is highly recommended that you put a reserve on the property to ensure if another buyer comes along, you have at least the first right of purchase. Note that when you fill in this paperwork, you also have to give a quote for the price that you are prepared to pay for the property. The seller can then choose whether to accept or not. There are specific time frames on which actions need to be taken once this paperwork is completed it is best to speak to the lawyer about these restrictions at that time.
If the buyer accepts your offer the next stage is the first initial payment that is specified in this document. The real estate agent solicitor I hired was present at this and translated each clause of the agreement, so I was clear on what I was signing. This gave me a lot of confidence in the buying process and actually made it quite a pleasant experience since I felt fully informed at every stage of the purchasing process.
Once the deposit is paid, the owner has quite some commitment to follow through since they would have to pay double your deposit to exit the contract at this stage. It is now best to move ahead quickly with finalising your mortgage so that you can move on to the next stage of the purchasing process.