Frank and Diane decide to make their own way to Spain. They call a few of the agents in their chosen area and take advice on how many properties they can view in a day. One agent in particular seems very pushy. “Don’t worry about any other agents in the area,” she says, “we all pool our properties anyway, so I can show you them all. In fact we can do it all for you, we have lawyers, our own in-house surveyor. You can even stay in our subsidised guest house!” Agents do indeed often share properties, but you should never use an “in-house” lawyer. Frank decides to steer clear of this agent.
Here is the crux of the problem for Foreign people buying property in Spain: the legal system is different, the language is different, the professional culture is different. Vital legal and planning documents will be in Spanish. Professionals whose roles Frank and Diane think they understand may be harder to nd, while they are suddenly expected to understand what a ‘gestor’ or a ‘notary’ does. It can feel like costs are mounting up all the time, while at the back of their mind they are remembering the news reports of people losing their life savings or having their homes bulldozed!
And they are not doing this from the comfort of their own home, with friends to consult with, but in Spain, probably from a hotel, with the clock ticking because they have ights home scheduled.
This is what is known as being out of your comfort zone and explains exactly why so many people make mistakes. Subconsciously, buyers are looking for someone to trust, but the only people they are talking to are trying to sell them an expensive product, a property. No wonder people drop their guard!
Frank and Diane need to get back in control. They should do this before they even leave the UK by preparing for each eventuality and recognising potential problems in advance. First they need a team of people behind them. So while Diane is checking flight prices, Frank is organising “Team Frank & Diane”. For a start they must always take independent legal advice.
With so much planning already done, Frank is keen to get on the internet and book flights. But then Diane sees an advert: “Inspection trips, just €49!!” An inspection trip is a short break in Spain subsidised by the agent, who will be your tour guide on the trip while trying to sell you a property.
In the last buying property boom ten years ago, entire jets were being chartered by developers to bring Britons over for two or three days as a captive audience, while commission- desperate agents blasted them with hard-sell techniques. They gained such a bad reputation that these days inspection trips tend to be called something different – “discovery visits” or “viewing trips” perhaps. The advantage to the house-hunter, however, was a cheap trip to a location they might like, with expert (if biased) guidance to the local area and no need to worry about booking hotels or cars.
The days of those kinds of mass inspection trip may be over, but most agents will help potential clients in other ways. For example, the agent may give them a free night in a resort, or promise to repay the cost of ights if they do agree to buy. There is nothing wrong with taking an inspection trip, but you need to be aware that you are not staying with friends, but with an agent who won’t earn a cent from the trip unless you buy a property.
Source; AIPP / RICS / RDE