How to Choose a Real Estate Agent in Spain

We’ve seen many moans and groans on Facebook in recent months about Estate Agents in Spain, particularly in the Axarquia region where we live. We all love to hate Property Agents don’t we?

Quantum23 are not Real Estate Agents, but as web designers and developers who specialise in Real Estate websites in Spain, we’ve worked closely with a lot of them over the last 5 years to better understand their business. Undoubtedly there are good ones and bad ones and taking what we have learned, here are a few tips on how to choose a Real Estate Agent in Spain.

Searching for the right Real Estate Agent

  • Find a reputable Agent – ask around, get recommendations, ask for testimonials, do some research.  The business of buying and selling property in Spain is not cheap so finding the right person to do it can save you a lot of money in the long run.
  • You can use as many differently Agents in Spain to advertise your property as you want, you do not have to use a sole Agent.
  • Do a Google search – think of the sentences (key phrases) somebody might use to find property in your area, eg Villas for Sale in Periana. Look at the top search results and research them.  Anybody using the same search term will likely to see the same or similar search results as you do. Find out more about the top ranking Agents and if it’s a portal, click on the link to see who is advertising properties in your area on the portal. For a more neutral search result (ie. not browser behavioural targeting), clear your browser history, log out of the browser and try geographical browser searches (google.com, google.co.uk, google.es etc).
  • For maximum exposure, find Agents that uses a Multi Listing Service (MLS) – ask the Agent if you’re not sure. An MLS is a database of properties for sale and rent used by many Agents who all have access to properties in the database (known as IDX in the USA). Most Agents pay from 130€ per month to use an MLS service. It’s not a cartel for them to fix prices – one listing Agent sets the price and other Agents share the properties giving you more exposure and a higher chance of selling your property.
  • Ask if they advertise their properties on portals such as Kyero, Think Spain, Rightmove, Zoopla etc. Kyero currently charges 1000€ a year to advertise 250 properties going up to 6000€ a year to advertise 4,000 properties – it’s not cheap and the Agent pays the costs, not the buyers or sellers.
  • Ask the Agent where they advertise their properties, find out which markets are buoyant – the Scandinavians are currently buying property in Spain and with the strong GBP, the UK are close behind. The Russian and Chinese markets are slower now than the previous 2 years. A serious Agent will advertise in multiple countries, not just Spain.
  • Consider using an Agent who is a member of AIPP.

The Commission

  • The seller and Agent agree an asking price and the Agent usually adds their commission on top of that so the buyer gets the agreed asking price. Depending on your area, the fee is usually between 5-10% so the more you want for your property, the more commission the Agent will get.
  • If you’ve signed a contract, read the small print. If it’s in Spanish and you don’t understand it, get it translated.
  • Be aware of all the other costs of buying and selling – Transfer Tax (Impuesto sobre Transmisiones Patrimoniales ITP – 7%), legal fees (1-1.5%), Notary fees (0.5%-1%) etc. Allow for up to 15% of the purchase price in taxes and costs. There’s lots of websites out there which list the costs so do your research.

Little or No Commission?

  • Websites that cut out the Agent and charge a fee for advertising can be successful especially if your property is in a ‘desireable area’. But if it’s in a remote location half way up a mountain, you’re probably not going to find a buyer through such a website.  There is no before or after service with these type of websites, the website owners are often anonymous with no legal comeback and you will still need to pay somebody to carry out work that an Agent would normally include in their services.
  • Tell the local gestor your property is for sale – the Spanish (and some foreigners) will walk into a bar in an area they like and ask the locals what is available in that area.  Our bilingual daughter was once asked by some British people looking for property – she was around 13 at the time!
  • Advertise the property for free yourself – harness the power of Social Media. Set up a Facebook page, join Real Estate groups, post regularly and not just about your property. Sell the lifestyle and the area you live in. Tell everybody why it’s great living there.  Show everybody how great the lifestyle is by posting enviable photos on Instagram of the property, the landscape, the sunsets, the ferias, the food, the flora and fauna etc.  People who are interested will follow and they are your target audience.  You will quickly realise how time consuming it is to market just one property.

Things to Consider

  • Agents have to earn a living like everybody else. It’s a cutthroat business in Spain (there are 1150 Agents in Marbella alone).
  • Real Estate Agents have expenses which might include websites, MLS services, advertising costs, marketing costs, staff, offices, signage, transport costs, wining and dining expenses, brochures and other print materials.  The list is endless and none of it is free.
  • If they are established and have survived the recession, they have probably done so for good reason.
  • If you had a great after service from the Agent dealing with the purchase of your property, ask them to sell it.  Chances are, they already have a good reputation in the community.

When we sold our house in the UK we were less than happy. We paid 3% to a ‘reputable agency’ who we later found arranged viewings of our house without supervision. People were allowed to go through our personal belongings and one accessed our computers. The same Agent also left the patio doors unlocked on one occasion which could have had a disastrous outcome. We weren’t that thrilled either on finding out the Agent we used to buy our Spanish house made quite a high percentage in commission on the sale.  We understand why Agents don’t have the best of reputations, but we also have a better insight into what they do to earn their commissions.

Not many people like the idea of using Real Estate Agents but they are a necessary evil. Do consider how many of us have had a great follow up services from Agents we’ve bought from in Spain – a good Agent doesn’t charge for extra services. For example, our Agent helped with setting up utility and bank accounts, NIE numbers, registering us in our village,  enrolling our children into school,  medical emergencies etc at no extra charge. The service you receive as a seller is different to the service you receive as a buyer and for many of us, buying, selling and after services are covered by the Agents commission.

At the end of the day, who you choose to sell your home in Spain is down to you so be as informed as you can be.  It isn’t always the Agents fault if things don’t go to plan.  You may be asking 3 or more Agents to sell your house and all of them are investing their time and efforts free of charge with no guarantees until the house is sold, only when they might get the commission.  It is an investment for them too, they may have limited resources and opt not to invest them in properties they consider ‘hard to sell’.

Also worth considering when purchasing property in Spain, how long was it on the market previously and how easy is it going to be for you to resell?  If it was previously on the market for 3 years before the recession, it may take equally as long for you to sell it, so finding the right Agent is important.

And on a final note, we’ll leave you with this.

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