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How Long Does It Take?

"In between these two extremes most of our clients will complete their purchase somewhere around six months after the search started."

Following on from an earlier blog about getting any finance needed organised before a search begins, here I try to answer one of the common questions potential clients ask The Property Finders when first talking to us about using our property finding service.  And that is ‘How long does it all take?” Unfortunately, I think the question falls into the ‘how long is a piece of string’ category and there’s no easy answer apart from ‘it depends’.

In a recent case the client signed our contract on March 30, 2024, flew in to view just one property on April 8th and signed the purchase contract on April 27th. That’s quick and came about because I alerted my client to a property in his preferred area being launched on the market on April 10th and if he could get to Spain before that I guaranteed he would be first in the door. In the event, not only was he first in the door he was the only person in the door, he’d bought it before anyone else even knew about it. 

At the other end of the scale, our longest search took twenty two months. Our client knew exactly what he wanted, an apartment facing south/south west in just one specific building, nothing else. I knew these apartments occasionally came on the market and some were when the search started but not facing the right way. All we had to do was wait. Eventually, I identified all the apartments that would be suitable and wrote to the owners, one of whom responded and a deal was done.

In between these two extremes most of our clients will complete their purchase somewhere around six months after the search started. However, before the serious work gets going there’ll be a few weeks of in-depth discussions about the brief, the most important criteria, the locations to cover and all the fine detail.  Before the pandemic we got to know our clients in advance with a face-to-face meeting and we still do that but Zoom meetings also work well. 

Once we know what is wanted and what the budget is we can make a realistic assessment of how long the initial phase of the search is likely to take and how many properties might be shortlisted. During this phase we investigate what is available, make external inspections to check the local environment, then visit for an internal review and report back to the clients.  

Obviously a city centre search, such as in Madrid or Barcelona, is different to covering wide areas in Andalucía and Mallorca, but, in general, we find it takes 4 - 6 weeks to prepare a good shortlist. We never put a limit on the number of properties we will inspect but ,because we stick rigidly to the criteria the client has given us, most shortlists are quite short, ranging from only one or two to five or six, although to achieve that we may have inspected  twenty or thirty properties. In today’s market, with such a supply/demand imbalance, viewings need to happen quite quickly, no more than a couple of weeks later. And as a shortlisted property will tick every box on the list of requirements, in most cases our clients buy fone of the shortlisted properties on the first viewing trip. Repeat visits are rarely necessary.

Negotiations may take a couple of weeks, it’s not just the price and completion date to agree but furniture, fixtures and fittings often come into it. Once all is settled, the contract is signed within the next two to three weeks with completion following a month or so later. So, with the initial search lasting up to two months, viewings during the following month one month more to get to contract and another month until completion, that accounts for five months and it’s rare to do it quicker. 

However, there are times it takes longer. Perhaps after the first viewings our clients change their criteria, adding items they hadn’t thought about previously or prioritising something they didn’t think was too important but now it is, and ask us to search again. One case stands out as an example. Our clients were looking for a large country estate and the original brief allowed for a walk up to 45 minutes to the nearest village.  After visiting in at the height of summer in July to view the initial shortlist they decided that wasn’t a particularly good idea with two children in tow. They increased the budget and asked me to search again, hoping I could locate a property within 1km or thereabouts from the village. It took me another couple of months to find just one, but that was ‘the one’ and they bought it. Overall, that search took just under a year. 

Or, it might be that we can’t get a deal on the first choice property and rather than overpay, we search again. Some years ago, we just couldn’t get a seller to shift from his asking price and, given market conditions at the time, we felt it was just too high. I searched again and found some nice properties but none quite matched the first choice. Our clients took a very pragmatic view and decided that over the longer term it was worth meeting the seller’s price but the process added another couple of months to the search.

So, between the super quick and very long transactions I described at the start of this blog, over the 20 years The Property Finders have been operating our experience shows that the majority of our clients get the keys to their Spanish property within six months of registering with us. It may be a bit less or a bit longer but plan for around six months as a good guide.

Go to the News & Views hub for lots more blogs, podcasts and market reports, covering a wide range of Spanish property market topics.

About the author

Barbara Wood

Barbara founded The Property Finders in 2003. More than two decades of experience and her in-depth knowledge of the Spanish property market help buyers get the knowledge they need to find the right property for them.

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