What To Look For When Buying A Spanish Villa
Written exclusively for Expat Network by Annie Button
That said, unless you’re already familiar with the property market in Spain, it’s important to keep your feet firmly on the ground and do your homework before you go ahead with any financial transaction. Once you start your property search in earnest, there’ll be no shortage of alluring property particulars landing in your inbox promising beautiful dream houses in spectacular settings and selling the dream of a life in the Spanish sun.
Whether you’re looking for a mountainside finca, a contemporary (sub)urban new-build or a classic beachfront villa, it would be naïve to assume that the same criteria apply to buying a Spanish property than if you were to go house hunting back in Blighty.
If you’re looking for a villa in Spain, you need to understand the key criteria that make this type of property so desirable so you can gauge whether you’re getting value for money. Particularly if you’re not a local, and perhaps can’t quite tune into the Spanish way of life (or the Spanish way of doing business, for that matter), it makes sense to collect as much information as you can.
Where in Spain?
No matter whether you’re house hunting in Marbella or Marble Arch, it’s all about the location, as every estate agent worth his salt will tell you. Decide whereabouts in Spain you want your investment to be and who is going to live there, so you can home in on suitable property in the right place.
Are you moving to Spain for a job? If so, the choice of location may have been made for you and you’re likely to find yourself in one of the major cities – Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia. If you are looking to join a vibrant expat community, consider the Costa Blanca or the Costa del Sol, particularly the areas around Malaga and Marbella.
Are you looking for a holiday let? Practical considerations such as good transport links to airports, proximity to the beach, bars and shopping, and other entertainment options will be informing your Spanish property search.
HVAC – heating and air con
The hot Mediterranean climate is one of the things people love most about Spain. Air conditioning is a standard feature in most modern properties and this is one feature that you definitely want. It’s best to check that air con is fitted, or how much it would cost to have it installed after the purchase. The majority of older, traditional houses will have been constructed with thick walls to keep the heat out, often making air con unnecessary.
With Spanish winters being generally mild, you wouldn’t necessarily think indoor heating would be needed, unlike in the UK where central heating is an essential utility. But you’d be wrong. It can get jolly cold in Spain during wintertime, and you’d be surprised how much you would miss your creature comforts. For the best of both worlds, look for properties with full HVAC systems. Alternatively, you could invest in other ways of keeping warm, such as underfloor heating, or installing an open fire in your villa.
It is inconceivable that a Spanish villa would not have its own outdoor swimming pool. Unlike in Britain where a private pool is seen as a luxury status symbol, here it’s a staple of the Spanish way of life. During the long, hot Mediterranean summer, it’s an almost essential amenity that the whole family and their guests can enjoy. Obviously, a pool also adds value to the property.
That is not to say that you should immediately disregard any villas that don’t come with their own outdoor pool, as long as you’ve established that there’s sufficient outdoor space to install one. Obtain several quotes from local pool builders and factor the extra expense into your budget.
Outdoor living spaces
Just as an outdoor pool is an essential requirement to be able to take full advantage of the glorious Mediterranean climate, so are other outdoor living spaces. Spanish homes are famous for their patios and roof terraces, balconies and sun decks, outdoor kitchens and BBQ areas. Together with all the usual indoor accommodation, you should be looking for a property that offers seamless indoor/outdoor living.
Why not go further and combine the outdoor pool area with a jacuzzi and shower ‘room’? How about some lush planting in the garden, with loggias and pergolas defining garden rooms? If you’re on the beach, private beach access would surely be the icing on the cake.
Whether you are looking for a Spanish home for entertaining, as a quiet retreat or as a holiday pad, make sure it is perfect for the Spanish lifestyle you are hoping to embrace, and be a welcome contrast to living in the UK.