How to Buy Property in Spain – Interview with Valencia Property
More people have been asking us recently if right now is a good time to buy property in Spain. Simple answer is, YES! Yet for a foreigner, it can seem like a daunting task.
So we interviewed our good friend and fellow-expat, Graham Hunt of Valencia Property, to bring you answers to questions you may not have thought to ask, reveal how to go about it, and share great news on why right now is a great time to buy property in Spain.
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Who is Graham Hunt and Valencia Property?
One of our first international friends we met after moving to Valencia was Graham Hunt. We met him through our first landlords, a wonderful British couple who had bought through Valencia Property their flat that we were renting. So we got to know first-hand what great properties they help people purchase. Originally from Britain, Graham has been living in Spain for over 20 years and started Valencia Properties in 1999.
What is your speciality for property in Spain?
Valencia Property specializes in the buying and selling of properties throughout the Valencia city area and surrounding region. While we do manage some rental properties, it is not our primary focus. Our company also conducts renovations of properties (more great info on that further below).
Above Image – Great street art in the Barrio del Carmen of Valencia’s Historic District.
Who is Valencia Property for?
We work in Spain with foreigners who are primarily English-speaking and want to buy property in Spain. Our clientele come from all over the world, ranging from Britain, Australia, throughout Europe, the United States and Asia.
After a sale is done, is there ongoing support?
Yes. Even after a purchase is completed, clients can come to us for help and many of our clients who first buy through us, come back and sell through us. If there are needs that come up, they can call us for help with any ‘DNO’s’, as Graham calls them – ‘do not know’ questions.
How is it possible for me to live and buy property in Spain?
There’s nothing stopping anyone from having a property in Spain. There is simply a limit on the amount of time you can be here in that property, unless you get residency. Great news is, anyone can get residency by applying and going through the process. Valencia Property has an experienced lawyer who specializes in taking you through that process. There’s the regular residency process and then there’s the Golden Visa residency process.
How do the two residency processes work related to buying property in Spain?
These are based on the amount of money you spend on buying property in Spain. If you spend under €500K, you apply for a 1-year residency. At the first renewal, your residency gets renewed for 2 years and then at the 3rd year renewal it gets renewed for another 2 years. At the 5th year, you can renew for 5 years and after 10 years, you can apply for Spanish Nationality.
With the Golden Visa, you’re automatically guaranteed residency and once the property is bought you get it within a few months later. This law recently changed at the end of 2015. It used to be a property investment of €500K per person, so a couple would have to spend €1 million for both to get Spanish residency. But now, it’s only €500K for an entire household.
Take this example to realize what that means – a recent client of our’s got Spanish residency for 8 people in their household through just one property purchase investment of €500K! No kidding here!
One must prove that each person is dependent on the purchaser and part of the family unit, so parents and kids are the obvious included ones, but you can also have it include parents or grandparents you are caring for and older children who are still dependent on you.
How much do these residency processes cost and how are they done?
In the case of Valencia Property, we do not charge anything and instead it is our lawyer who charges. Through any lawyer, it can vary and ranges from €1K up to €5K, taking one through the 2nd and 3rd renewal. What a person is responsible for is managed by the lawyer who helps tremendously by overseeing the checklist, communications in Spanish, getting the proper paperwork done and submitted.
When processing with a lawyer, the Spanish government doesn’t charge anything. If you do it yourself, expect some nominal regional government fees that cover administration. These are the costs that vary between €10 – €15 and that you pay in person when you go to the local police station and other government offices. Keep in mind too, that you may have to make several visits. It’s also the time-consuming tasks that a lawyer can help you process instead. The first year takes a couple of months to process which is usually not a problem because most people have up to 90 days / 3 months to be in Spain without a visa.
There’s a chance that you have to leave once to make an in-person application in your own country as part of the process. When you next apply / renew, you have that 3-month window for it to process and still be in Spain.
What is currently the most popular and available kind of property for sale?
The flats in Valencia’s city-center are more popular than houses outside the city. The standard request we get is for a property around €150K, that has a couple bedrooms and is located in an area that’s interesting. The most popular areas are the Ruzafa neighborhood and the Barrio del Carmen (Carmen Neighborhood).
An area that is outside the city-center that people also like is Benimaclet, which is a student area due to the close proximity to the University of Valencia.
Then there are also areas in Valencia down by the beach, such as Cabanyal and Malvarrosa. Properties here tend to be less expensive and are great investment opportunities. They can go for anywhere between €40K – €100K for a 2-bedroom flat that is modernized and even furnished.
Above Image – Street views of the Carmen Neighborhood.
Do you furnish properties as well?
Yes. You can hire us to furnish properties completely so they’re ready for move-in.
What are the prices and values like for properties?
First things first – There’s no average price in Valencia. Within Valencia, each area is different. In 2007, at the top of the market in the popular Barrio del Carmen, the average price was €3,500 per square meter and the average flat was the size of 60-70 square meters, so you were looking at a total property value of €200K.
Today, it’s around €150 – €140K or even at €120K. It varies and depends on certain factors.
What are the factors that most influence a property value?
They are primarily the neighborhood and its accessibility and location, along with natural sunlight, outdoor space like a terrace, amenities like having an elevator in the building, and the noise-levels.
For example, the thing about the Carmen neighborhood, where properties can be around €120K – €150K, is finding a place that gets natural light yet less noise – it’s possible but not as common. You have to find a flat that is on a higher floor. Not to mention that while a lot of the buildings in this area are charmingly historic, they don’t have elevators (or as the rest of the world calls them, ‘lifts’).
The Ruzafa neighborhood has been exploding in popularity throughout the past ten years. So it’s more expensive yet is also holding its value. Most buildings there are now having lifts put in and the average flats are around €165K – €200K. Culture and lifestyle-wise, it’s ‘Hipster-central’. There’s a lot going on for small businesses and entrepreneurs, and it’s very creative and artistic.
Then right next door to Ruzafa is the Ensanche neighborhood, which is the posher neighborhood and double the price. What you can purchase in Ruzafa for €200K will cost €400K or more in this classy part of town. It’s architecture is still historic, yet quite a nice and beautiful residential area full of high-end boutique shops and restaurants.
Overall, it depends on what you want and how it suits you and your lifestyle.
How else can property prices vary?
They can vary based on being on different sides of the street. For example, what neighborhood a place is included in and whether or not it’s a north-facing property which gets less sun, versus south and east-facing properties with more sun. People also want outside space so a flat with a terrace is very popular.
Can you help people who want to renovate a property?
We certainly can and the demand for this is growing. Valencia Property works with a Spanish building company and we provide a project manager who speaks English and Spanish to conduct the translations and help in the process of choosing materials and finishings.
For example – the complete renovation of a 70 meter flat (changing all the bathrooms, electric, new floors and kitchen, decorated and fully furnished) can cost between €18K and €25K. So you can buy an absolute wreck at whatever price and then have it totally renovated and furnished for up to another €25K (in addition to property purchase, of course).
We’ve now done over 30 projects of this nature in the past 2-years. These have been a great success for all parties involved because we get good prices with our builders and maintain great relationships with them.
Is there anything going on for doing sustainable properties in Spain? Is it worthwhile?
In Spain it’s not a priority, but we do have a friend and contact with Eco Vida, which does retro-fittings of older buildings and new builds that are more environmentally friendly. Otherwise the building standards in Spain are pretty bad. You need heating in winter even in the south because the insulation is poor.
It is possible to have solar panels installed on a home, but depends on how a structure was originally built. A friend, Emilio, does a lot of retro-fitting of solar panels in homes. What it really comes down to is that with flats in the city you’re more limited as to what changes and improvements you can do. With a house, it’s easier.
Homes in Spain now have to have an energy-efficient certificate that must be provided when a house is sold or rented long-term, but it’s a new system and isn’t effecting prices yet. Overall, it’s possible but can cost a lot to make a home in Spain more efficient and environmentally friendly.
Why is RIGHT NOW a great time to buy property in Spain?
With the political climate of things right now, it’s likely that major currencies, such as the US Dollar, are going to go down very soon. To put it bluntly, we feel that with Trump in office, not only is the dollar going to go down, but many people are looking to remove their assets and investments from the US to other countries.
It’s good to guarantee your exchange rate now, which Valencia Property helps do with currency companies we work with. Currencies Direct is a currency company that is great for buyers from the US and that we’ve been working with for some time. For example, lock in now the 10% you plan to pay as a down payment (even if it’s not till later this year), so you can guarantee the rate based on the value now. This way if it goes down, you’re safe and if it goes up, you’re even better off.
We’ve already had our first client who, as Graham puts it, is our first ‘Trump refugee’ from the US. It’s an American who is selling their entire portfolio of rental properties in the US and purchasing properties in Valencia, Spain instead. This is the reality of it and at the rate things are going, there’s quickly going to be more buyers like this coming to Spain.
For whatever your reasons may be, it is a great time to buy property in Spain.
Your Guide to Buying Property in Spain
A lot of the information provided here is applicable throughout Spain and its major cities. The questions are ones that you can use for vetting other real estate companies in Spain about how they can best help you buy property in Spain.
Or, if you see the ‘light’ (that is the Valencia sunlight and ‘Valencia blue’ sky), you now know how to buy property in Spain in Valencia and who to have help you.
Learn More from Valencia Property
*FYI – this post was not hired or paid for and is solely an interview combined with our personal perspectives. Enjoy!
Introducing, the Living in Spain Series
Resourceful, insider information on life in Spain.
Created by Amalia & Eric
Founders & Producers of Move to Traveling
We’re Amalia and Eric – a traveling couple who moved from the US to Denia, Spain. With our combined skills of travel consultant/writer and artist/film producer, we share resourceful stories to inspire and support your travel dreams. Let us know how we can be of help.