The process of buying a property from an estate agent needs very little in the way of an introduction. Providing that you can find a reputable and experienced agent covering your chosen location and that you are satisfied that they are regulated by a recognised and independent association, then you are certainly taking the correct steps. However, you do need to remember that an estate agent is working exclusively for the vendor.
What exactly is a Property Finder?
A property finder works exclusively for the buyer and has no connection with the vendor. They are therefore completely unbiased and their sole intention is to find you the right property in the right location at the right price. In many cases they can offer additional services to help you relocate and fully settle into your new life in spain, for example with help getting your NIE numbers, Residencia, importing your car and enrolling your children in schools.
How is that different from an Estate Agent?
You have to remember that an estate agent is concerned with selling a property at the best possible price that they can, and as such will obviously present each property in its best possible light and gloss over any potential problems that may not exactly match your brief.
Secondly, almost all estate agents work within a very tight geographical area and so will only have a small range of properties to search through. Any Estate Agent who claims otherwise is likely to be calling upon the resources of a network of other agents which adds to their commission and, indirectly, to the price that the buyer pays.
What does it cost to engage a Property Finder?
A good property finder will work for clients with all budgets and therefore will not exclude those on limited budgets. This is usually done at a percentage of the purchase cost or a flat fee whichever is the greater. It is true to say that someone on a tight budget probably needs help more than someone with a higher budget; the search for the right property takes much more time and resources.
What's the Process?
Once you decide to engage the services of a property finder you will work together with them to decide upon the brief basically a list of "must haves" and "have not's" and to decide upon your preference for locations, if you have any. The property finder will then work with their network of associates in Spain to source you some suitable properties in suitable locations. As the shortlist is finalised you may be asked to put some time aside to make a brief inspection trip to the area to inspect a handpicked few of the properties that you like so far. this is done in such a way to keep your time and costs to the necessary minimum.
If you should wish to make an offer on any of the properties that you have seen they will be able to guide you through the purchase process and, once again, you can be confident that they are working in your interests and not the interests of the vendor.
What if i should decide not to buy a property?
A client wishing to engage in the services of a property finder is generally a serious buyer and definitely not a time waster. As such in almost all cases a property finder will be successful in finding a property that their client is very happy with. Once engaged with a detailed brief the property finder will continue in their search until such a property is sourced.
Think of it like this: the process of actually researching an area that you wish to live in together with finding a suitable property (and architects, builders etc... If you wish to modify it in any way) can take a toll on your time and expenses often adding up to far more than the initial fee from the property finder anyway.
Furthermore, the range of properties available to a property finder is significantly more than a high street estate agent They have long standing relationships with the locals and a network of contacts whose experience and resources that they can call on.
Additionally properties are often sourced from private vendors and in some cases properties that have not even come onto the market, and as such can locate properties that estate agents can not.
Finally, they work for you from start to finish you, the buyer, could buy a property from any agent and they need to snare you as quickly as possible in order to make the sale whilst a property finder will have no problem in walking away from a property unless you are 100% happy they shouldn't and don't need to convince you to buy anything. if a property is in no way suitable for you then they will simply keep looking.
Barbara Wood from the property finders perhaps sums it up best - in 99% of cases we save our clients much more than the value of our fee, not to mention the wasted time factor. The majority of our clients buy after just one short inspection visit, whereas dealing with an estate agent can often mean multiple wasted viewing trips. due to our unique knowledge of property market conditions in spain we always negotiate a better price than our clients could manage themselves. For example, i have just secured a house for clients at 820,000 from an asking price of 975000 This was for a home that they were delighted with, fully met the brief and was well under budget.