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Second Home abroad Minus the Stress – Here’s How

Buying a second home abroad makes a good nest egg

Many of us dream of buying a second home abroad, somewhere warm and sunny, an investment property like a Mediterranean villa perhaps on the South coast of Spain. But how do make that dream a reality and who can you trust to help you identify the best location, the best property for the best investment..? The Property Finder Barbara Wood tells us how she thinks and works on behalf of her clients, and once the property is purchased how best to maintain it with minimum stress.

Stunning Mediterranean villa with pool in Marbella Spain housesitting

Home found for clients in Marbella, Spain

It’s often said that buying a property is one of life’s most stressful events and too often it turns out to be a time consuming and frustrating business even when you’re buying in a location you know well. So, it’s a hundred times worse for the buyer looking abroad, out of their comfort zone perhaps even thousands of kilometres away, and maybe not speaking the language. Although you may have spent time on holiday in a few places and think you know where you want to be you will have probably only scratched at the surface, unaware of all the options open to you and without the in-depth knowledge that comes with years of living in the culture and speaking the language. This is where a buying agent/property finder comes in. It is now very unusual for an international buyer to try to enter the property market in London or South East England without the assistance of a property finder working for them and there are now buying agents available to assist buyers in Europe and further afield.

Hire a Property Finder

Property purchase is one of the biggest financial commitments people make in life yet most buyers put their trust in estate agents who are working for the other side, the seller. Buying agents, on the other hand, work exclusively for the buyer, protecting their interests and looking at every aspect of the purchase from the buyer’s perspective. Estate agents operate in a given area and can only offer their listed properties within that zone. They have absolutely no interest in discussing other locations that may, in fact, suit the buyer better and will often talk another area down in the hope of making a sale on their patch. In contrast, buying agents cover much larger areas; in the UK that will mean a whole county or even more than one while overseas it will be an entire region, such as Andalucia in Spain or Queensland in Australia. So, after listening carefully to what the buyer says they want a buying agent is able to compare and contrast a wide selection of locations and it is not unusual for the buyer to finish up in a location they had never heard of until it was suggested to them. And while estate agents can only offer properties listed with them buying agents and property finders can access the whole market. They will have close relationships with trusted agents and are often tipped off in advance about good properties coming to the market so a buyer
working with a property finder will often get to view a property before it is openly available. But the buying agent is also able to access properties that are privately for sale – very common in Spain for example, where Se Vende signs are everywhere and there is always a financial advantage for the buyer when dealing direct with the seller. Many former clients of The Property Finders now own properties that they would never have seen if they had used the estate agent route.

Infinity pool looking out to see on the South coast of Spain housesitting

Property found for clients in La Herradura, Spain

A property finder can make a huge difference

The Property Finders was established to be the source buyers turned to for independent, balanced and impartial advice about all aspects of property purchase. We really listen to what you tell us, asking lots of questions to build up a very detailed brief and our in-depth knowledge of the market in our regions often means we will suggest possible locations you may not have thought about. Mistakes are easy to make if emotion gets in the way. The Property Finders don’t do emotion, we stay focused and objective and make sure the buyer does as well. We tell it like it is, pointing out negatives as well as positives. We don’t employ estate agents’ tricks of the trade, such as weekend viewings for properties on noisy roads or morning viewings for houses with no afternoon sun. Such negatives are flagged up by us at the outset, together with any legal issues as we do the due diligence at the beginning and any issues that impact the property are reported back to the client before a short list is drawn up.

We save our buyers time. Just about everyone today starts a property search online and it’s all too easy to get seduced by pretty images and hours are wasted getting excited about properties that aren’t that exciting. More hours, and sometimes days, are wasted making trips to view properties close to a busy road or industrial zone, perhaps a mobile phone mast towering over the roof or an ugly apartment building blocking the delicious view of the Mediterranean the estate agent raved about. I recall one occasion when an estate agent was very keen to show me a property but when he gave me the address I asked how close was it to the abattoir. He didn’t know what I was talking about as he was listing a property some distance from his office and of course, when the sellers gave him directions to the house they made sure he took an alternative route that didn’t include going past it. And, naturally that was the way he took potential buyers, making it quite possible that someone would buy without knowing an abattoir was within 250 metres, a facility that with the wind in the wrong direction would bring, noise, flies and odours. He genuinely didn’t know about this blight on the property and I’ve often wondered since whether the eventual buyer found out before or after completion.

Looking down on a pool with a view in Iznajar, Spain housitting

Property found in Iznajar, Spain for clients

We save our buyers money. Firstly, our clients are well informed in advance and will have seen a report with images or a video for every property recommended for viewing and this means viewing trips are kept focused and productive; typically clients spend just a couple of days looking at the short list whereas buyers using estate agents may spend weeks and months looking at totally unsuitable properties. And secondly, we are tough negotiators and usually expect to save our clients several times the value of our fee. Finally, we never take introductory commissions from third party services such as architects, builders, designers, landscapers etc. Most estate agents
do and it can add as much as 10% to estimates. Throughout the buying process, from identifying the right locations, pinpointing the best properties, negotiating and overseeing the transaction, introducing professional services, our aim is to protect our clients’ interests at all times and secure the lowest possible price.

House-sitter or caretaker? Someone needs to care for your Second Home in Your Absence

Once you have found and purchased your second home we recommend the property is cared for in your absence, whether that is with a resident housesitter, or a caretaker if the size of the property and estate warrants this full time position. Although it is also possible to find experienced and background checked housesitters who can care for large estates, through house-sitting networks like HouseSitMatch. It is important to keep homes occupied and lived in even when you are not present.  It is a great way to minimise the stress of maintaining a second home if you have someone present while you are elsewhere, caring for the property and gardens, and reporting back to you when unexpected maintenance is required. It is generally far better to deal with the maintenance issues in a timely fashion rather than wait until you ation about the regions covered by The Property Finders, how we work and our fees please go to: www.thepropertyfinders.com. We currently advise buyers in Spain, Australia and New Zealand.

Barbara Wood

Managing Director – The Property Finders

Barbara Wood
The Property Finders
Barbara is a recognised specialist in property research and acquisition, much quoted in the media and a regular contributor to the industry press. She established her own company The Property Finders in 2003 to address the challenges buyers face. Today she is based in both the UK and Andalucia, Spain.

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