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Case Study

Find a property in kite-surfing heaven

When our client contacted The Property Finders he was about to take a gap year from the U.K. and everything. He planned to spend the first several months in Andalucía.  A keen kite-surfer, he knew exactly where he wanted to be; within 20 minutes of Tarifa, the wind-surfing & kite-surfing capital of Europe.  The idea was to leave the U.K. in early July, had planned his travels through S.E. Asia and Australia for later on but hadn’t quite got around to organising somewhere to live in Spain.  So that gave me about five months. However, he needed a mortgage and taking into account the time needed to arrange that once a property had been found, I had to locate ‘the one’ no later than the end of April to have a chance of completing in time.  So even with everything going smoothly I had 10 weeks at best. Given some of the challenges specific to this area I was under pressure.

the brief

  • A detached house with a large garden
  • Swimming pool or space for one
  • Quiet location but not isolated
  • A good view with no other houses in sight
  • At least 3 bedrooms
  • Maximum travel time to Tarifa: 20 minutes
  • Must be able to mortgage
  • Budget: approximately €500,000

The challenges

Tarifa and the surrounding areas have very strict planning controls. Much of the area is designated as National Park and property of the type our client was hoping to buy is in very short supply.  I warned him at the outset that the short list of recommended properties was likely to be very short indeed.This area is probably the worst in Andalucía when it comes to the paperwork; incorrect Title Deeds are almost the norm. Sometimes there is no Title Deed at all. To find a property and arrange a mortgage in less than three months meant the pressure was on.

The search area was up to 15kms either side of Tarifa

After spending a couple of weeks making general enquiries, by early March I knew the most likely areas to throw up suitable properties were around La Peña, about 8kms to the west of Tarifa and El Cuartón, about 8 kms to the east and started to home in on all possibilities.

Up in La Peña, behind the Hurricane Hotel, I thought I had struck gold right at the start with a renovated property which had wonderful views to Africa.  The price was right and it ticked all the boxes – bingo! Then I saw the paperwork, about as bad as it gets.  The house was not registered and the land was shared between ten owners, local farmers who had done a ‘land-grab’ of their own many years ago.  The British owner had bought without ever understanding this, something of a mystery to me. I took legal advice and although it would be possible to rectify I was given an estimate of two years – certainly not in my client’s timeframe of two months so, reluctantly, we walked away.  

In El Cuartón I saw a house with another great view but further enquiries brought the news that the current owner was in prison! Then I shortlisted a great little house in El Cuartón but the sellers took a deposit about 2 hours after I had seen it, irritating but still useful to show there was movement in the market post-2008. So my first foray was a bit of a disappointment but I was now certain that the very best location for our clients would be El Cuartón.

Then just at the right moment a house came on the market in El Cuartón. There was a genuine need to sell and the price reflected that.  This time not only did it tick all the boxes but the documentation was fine.  I reported back to the client that the house was charming, it fitted the bill and definitely worth him coming to see it.  We viewed at the beginning of May and negotiated the price. One worry was that the bank valuation for the mortgage might be low. Spain was in a full-blown banking crisis and were very risk averse, valuing very low was standard practise.  So, when the valuation came in 15% higher than the price our client was paying he knew he had got a very good deal.

The view from the terrace, from Spain to Morocco

We did it – on budget and on time, just!  The mortgage came through quickly, the house was left absolutely ready to move into and completion took place on July 4th ready for our client’s arrival on July 7th.

As soon as the purchase was secured I had generated a ‘To Do’ list and I was methodically setting up all the post-completion meetings that would make Alex’s three months in Spain as stress-free as possible. These included the gardeners, swimming pool constructors, an architect and a team of builders, not to mention some friends who live locally and know everyone.  

I met them on their arrival at the house on July 7th.  We drew up a schedule for all the visits, spent some hours going through the house and garden to establish what Alex wanted done; with this list I was able to brief the contractors in advance, minimising any communication difficulties.  A celebratory lunch was followed by a shopping trip for beds but at the end of the day I was confident that everything really was under control.  Now our client could just get on with the kite-surfing lessons and enjoying the summer. The remainder of the gap year went well but instead of returning to the UK to live, the house in El Cuartón very quickly became their full-time home, from which they enjoy one of the most spectacular views in the world from their terrace.

That’s my side of the story, this is what they say:

“Quite simply, without Barbara, we would not have been able to progress beyond wistfully looking at property websites.  Even though we had a clear idea of what we were looking for and where we wanted to buy, I believe we would have wasted many weeks and thousands of pounds trying to pull together a purchase on our own.  Not only did Barbara sift deeply to bring us the right property, she carefully and quickly guided us through the entire purchase process.  By bringing in a network of trusted professional advisors that she had used in the past, Barbara turned a dream into reality.  

What surprised and impressed me much more so, however, was the “after sales service”.  Within one week we had gardeners at the property felling trees.  Within 10 days a team on builders were constructing an additional bedroom.  Barbara was on-site for three days bringing this all together; coordinating, organising and making things happen.  She was our “fixer” and introduced us to many valuable contacts that have allowed us to get off to a great start.  Barbara removed all the potential stress from the process – she made it fun!” 

If you would like to use The Property Finders to locate your property in Spain, France, Italy or Ireland please contact us on +44 (0)800 622 6745 or fill in the form below and we will get right back to you.

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