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Why Use a Property Finder?

"It’s often said that buying a property is one of life’s more stressful experiences. A buyer’s agent, also known as a property finder, can make a real difference to the experience."

It’s often said that buying a property is one of life’s more stressful experiences. It can be bad enough if you are property hunting in or close to where you already live but if you are trying to buy abroad or somewhere you don’t know very well it’s even worse and this is where a buyer’s agent, also known as a property finder, can make a real difference to the experience. Although on our website we do say as often as we can that we are not estate agents we know from some of the enquiries we get that not everyone understands exactly what makes a buyer’s agent different from a selling agent. 

In the past it used to be just for the super-rich or a mega-celebrity seeking anonymity but in the corporate world, using relocation agents, which is just another name for property finders, has always been the normal way for companies to find the right properties for executives and their families on the move. However, in the last 30 years property finders have become more common and many people now choose to use their own agent if for no other reason than that they are just too busy to do all the research and leg-work themselves.  As I worked as an estate agent for years before I founded The Property Finders in 2003 I see very big differences between what I did then and what I do now; some actual examples may help explain what I mean.

Years ago, when I was still a selling agent I was trying to sell a house for a Spanish developer. It was in the hills behind the Costa del Sol with an absolutely stunning sea view and Gibraltar and Africa clearly visible in the distance. It should have sold right away but it didn’t – the problem was that as well as that great view the terrace also overlooked a very busy road. But this road was much quieter on Saturday afternoons and Sundays so having come to the conclusion that no-one in their right mind was going to buy it after a weekday viewing I made sure that the next appointment was on a Saturday afternoon and the very next people to see it, on a Saturday afternoon, bought it!  As I was working for the seller, my job was to sell the house, not worry about the buyer’s interests.  How different it would be today, as I now work for the buyer, and it is my job to flag up anything that adversely affects a property – and in this case I would have raised the road noise issue in my report to the clients and recommended a weekday viewing if they wanted to see it, so they could assess if they could live with it.  

Spain does not have laws requiring sellers or their agents to disclose anything adverse. Negatives are not highlighted or discussed while we are actively seeking to expose them The client may go ahead and buy anyway but at least they will have all the facts so they can take an informed decision. In another search I disclosed to the selling agent who thought they were offering ‘the perfect country house’ that a near neighbour was a large matadero, an abattoir or slaughterhouse, They told me I must be mistaken, but in the end they had to admit they were wrong, it was there, they just didn’t know about it as the property was a bit out of their area.  We did not shortlist it although in terms of the property it was exactly what my clients were looking for, shame about the next door neighbour.

Most buyers looking in Spain rate the climate as a very important factor in their choice of location so what the sun is doing at different times of the day or different seasons is an important consideration; there is nothing worse that choosing a house in July and discovering in January that it doesn’t get any sun. I have lost count of the times the seller or the estate agent will suggest that I look at a property at a certain time: ‘because the sun is better then’ trying to disguise the fact that the property is in deep shade for part of the day and lack of sun may well be the very reason for the sale!  I know, I used to do the same thing when I was the selling agent, now I make an absolute point of going at the ‘wrong time of day’.   

And its not just physical things, like roads electricity pylons, mobile phone masts and a slaughterhouse that can blight a property. Lack of a building licence, defective title deeds, discrepancies hidden away for years can, and often do, become a complete nightmare and it is such a shame that so many buyers do, quite unknowingly, purchase such problems.  But it is not an estate agent’s job to point these things out to the buyer; their job is to sell a property, warts and all, and it is for the buyer to find out.

And that’s what we do.  Working for the buyer, property finders do the finding out and we do it at the right time, before a client even sees the property.  Some years ago I was looking for a house near Tarifa on the Costa de La Luz and almost the first one I saw was perfect – it ticked all the boxes.  Had I been the selling agent I would have been on the phone to persuade the buyer to come to look but as the agent for the buyer my next job was to dig a bit deeper, particularly as this area is known for illegalities.  

One look at the paperwork was enough – it wasn’t even clear who owned it, the land area was incorrect and our lawyer agreed it would be a very long process to sort it out, with no guarantee of success.  I spoke to the British seller and it became clear that when he had bought it in 2000 he had been completely unaware that he was buying a very big problem. All he wanted to do now was unload the problem on to someone else.  Well, he wasn’t about to unload it onto my client. I told my buyer to sit tight, not waste time and money coming to see a property I knew he would like but be unable to buy and I would keep looking for him.  A few weeks later I found it, the paperwork all in order, and the purchase went through quickly and smoothly. 

So, if you weren’t sure before I hope that I’ve clarified the differences between someone acting for the buyer and someone acting for the seller.  With The Property Finders you will only see properties that we have viewed ourselves and thoroughly checked out in advance. Not only are we property finders, we are also property detectives, and our clients can be confident that we will give them all the background, good and bad, so they can make an informed decision. 

Check out our News & Views Hub for Reports, Blogs and Podcasts that cover a wide range of issues about the Spanish Property Market from the overseas buyers perspective.


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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