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Is the Internet the ultimate tool or just one approach to the market?

Thousands of buyers keep searching online on a daily basis, looking for a bargain and trying to grab it up.  I am sure they must be thinking, “The opportunities do not come and go… someone else must be snapping them up”.

The great parts about online property listings within everyone’s reach also involve risks.

I was just reading an article by Peter Robinson, the Managing Director of the Association of International Property Professionals (AIPP), which our business is a member of, and I could not agree more about the risks that buyers are still assuming nowadays.

The number of independent agents has increased rapidly in Spain as the number of interested overseas buyers skyrockets.  Anyone could put a list of 200 properties on the Internet and be contacted… more or less.

It does not surprise me that nowadays overseas buyers keep being trapped by buying (or paying an expensive deposit) the wrong property or a bad property that:

  • Has legal issues, or debts on the property
  • Has unexpected tax charges that suddenly are requested by the tax office
  • Has not got the “cedula de habitabilidad” (very common in some areas)
  • Has unexpected bills for other common issues such as building repairs,
  • And a few more that can easily turn a lovely investment into a nightmare…

Not only are there still agents who are unfortunately trying to sell whatever is in the listing, but it is also amazing how well-educated potential buyers or buyers with business experience drop their standards during the viewings and just place offers and pay deposits on properties without even knowing (or finding out) if the owner is the right person, if there are any debts or charges for the property, etc…

 

On the topic of agents and Internet properties, I would like to illustrate just one clear example that is going to amaze you:

I am going to give a clear example (one out of dozens of them):  On the Internet, there is still a property listed by a bank as a repossession, located on a street that it is likely to be demolished if the final urban plan is accepted in Valencia, near the beach.  And that property is listed by one of the major Spanish banks.  What a trap!!!  You buy what you think is a bargain for 45k, you spend 60k refurbishing it as you like, in 12 months you receive a letter, and in 2 years it get demolished.

 

Clients that lose their common sense when they fall in love with a house or its price:

A quote from the article by Peter Robinson: “We do receive sheepish calls for help from buyers who have bought without doing all the homework –and are now regretting their impulsiveness. These include people who should know a lot better including, in the last year, a property journalist, surveyor and an international business owner.”

That is more common that we believe.  I recently had the pleasure of sharing a coffee with a lovely couple who provide mortgage services in Spain, and they highlighted how some high-profile business people also go and make regrettable mistakes when buying.

 

Another example was in October.  A couple of ladies visited Valencia to search for a property. We arranged a meeting on the third day and last day of their inspection trip in order to discuss their findings.  It is common for buyers with time on their hands to do research ahead of time and, if they have the opportunity, to go and check the properties to make a shortlist.  Before the upcoming meeting, they had already picked 3 choices that they found ideal according to their budget and specifications. Then they decided to cancel the meeting: they assumed they got what they needed and felt so amazed by one of the properties and so confident that everything will be fine.

I never met them to provide advice and as far as I know they put in their offer and paid a deposit.  A week after that, they emailed me asking for help: The property title deed was not in the name of the seller because the seller was not the owner and the process got all twisted up.  They preferred to rush into booking the property instead of waiting for a few hours to have alternate advice from an independent party.

 

WHY DO PEOPLE CONTACT THE SPANISH BRICK?

We have been giving independent advice to dozens of buyers in the last quarter of the year.

Many people contact us because we are knowledgeable, helpful, and our level of experience in the current distressed Spanish market is good… and if we have to do an extra mile, we do it. Some of them work with us until the end (from the research stage until they move in) and others just use us to get information and keep searching because they think that we will cost them money.

We are transparent, we share relevant information to make followers understand better how things work in Spain. And we welcome buyers or investors coming with questions.

What I say is this: Smart buyers save their time and money by utilizing a good service until the very end. Buyers are more likely to buy from a professional who helped them in their research phase as a result of the trust and rapport that has been built, as well as being more likely to recommend their services to a friend or colleague.

According to a recent survey done by the property portal Rightmove to 3,000 online property searchers (potential buyers),  93% of future buyers say they will find their agent online, but not necessarily their property.

CONCLUSION:  In a market of oversupply, there are plenty of catchy properties and sub-prime ones in the internet.  The market has low prices, but cheap things can become expensive.  If you are already getting advantage from a distressed market, you do not need to go through a long and painful process. Getting professional advice will safe you time, money and unnecessary hard time.

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