Estate Agents   

Choosing a Spanish Estate Agent

by Harry King

By virtue of their daily contacts, estate agents know who are buying and selling. Top agents keep files of buyers, sellers and properties. It is not unusual for a good agent, when he learns of a new listing, to sell it within twenty-four hours to a buyer he knows will buy that type of property. An agent, given time and a detailed specification, will always find a property for a determined buyer. He may have to be chased occasionally, but that is part of the process of being determined.

The quality and integrity of estate agents in Spain has vastly improved in the last few years. Selling houses attracts some of the finest people. But the business still attracts some unscrupulous characters too, probably because it is possible to earn a handsome income without working too hard. Due to its financial structure the estate agency business opens doors to all types of people some of whom are not completely honest. However most agents aren’t thieves and swindlers, if anything, they’re more honest than the average person because they have their reputations to protect.

Spanish based agents have a curious name — inmobiliaria, a word almost suggesting that "a person who does not move". Yet in Spain these people are commonplace — small local estate agents who know their patch well, concentrating mainly on resale properties. They need not be Spanish — and indeed many are German, Scandinavian or British.

It is a good idea to deal with a registered estate agent. In Spain they belong to the Agente de Propiedad Inmobiliaria, have a certificate of registration and an identification number. They can be sued if anything goes wrong. Dealing with such a registered business gives the purchaser more security and confidence. Look for the sign "API"

There are always stories in Spain of people losing their life savings because they have dealt with an unscrupulous estate agent. They may have bought a house only to discover the person selling it did not own it in the first place. One way to avoid this is to deal with a registered agent whose number should be on a sign outside the office, or on a window display, or on the exterior of the building. Grandiose marketing names mean nothing; it's the number that counts.

Agents dealing in resale Spanish property often take high commissions. The lowest start at 3 per cent but the average is 5 per cent. When selling a finca it can be as high as 20 per cent. How do they justify such exorbitant charges? Their answer is ambiguous, making reference to high advertising costs, commissions due in two countries and complex transactions involving different nationalities. In truth it is simply a seller’s market with demand outstripping supply, causing many people to enter the lucrative business of house selling.

In the small, very popular town of Javea there are over 120 estate agents. Why? With house prices at 400,000 euros plus, an agent only has to sell around ten properties a year to make an extremely comfortable living. It is often the case, in the final stages of house price negotiation, that the agent's commission itself may well be reviewed downwards. Very few agents in Spain operate on an exclusive basis and rarely expect to do so. It is quite common to find several agents selling the same property. Since their commissions may differ, so ironically may the house price.

Commission for selling a new house on behalf of a builder is usually around 10 per cent. If a number of agents are selling the same properties they may compete with one another, discounting their commission by offering furniture packages and such like to prospective purchasers.

Harry King has written various books on Spain including How to Buy a Home in Spain, Knowing the Law in Spain, Spain -Your Guide to a New Life and Buy to Let in Spain all published by How to Books

See also:
Buying Property in Spain
Property for Sale in Spain
Checklist for moving to Spain


Site last updated July 2017.
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