by Faye Davies
In some ways buying property is easier than renting in Madrid (and prices right now are static if not falling); but here are some points to bear in mind:
1. Have a lot of cash. Although prices in the Spanish capital compare well with some countries, be aware that secondary costs (i.e. taxes and Dickensian bureaucracy) mean that you should count on paying 20% more than the price of the flat, up front.
2. Be legit. Anglo-Saxon minds may boggle at the rigidity of Spanish banks, who will only consider giving you a mortgage if you have a fixed, permanent employment contract. On the bright side, a friend of mine recently got a – to her mind temporary – job through the Adecco employment agency, for which she was given an immediate contrato fijo.
3. Narrow your desires. Focusing on a particular barrio means you can wander the streets looking for private Se Vende (For Sale) signs. An agent-free process should in theory get you a better deal. The most essential thing either way is to secure a copy of the nota simple informativa (del Registro de la Propiedad), which proves that the seller is the person they claim to be, and that the property is free of debts.
4. (But) don’t be scared of agents. It’s the reverse situation to the banks: estate agents here are a breath of fresh air in comparison to some of the sharks I’ve dealt with in the UK. Honest, punctual and friendly, I was very pleased with the service of everyone but Tecnocasa, a mercenary chain to be avoided like the plague.
5. Ask questions. In addition to deciding what’s essential to you (natural light, elevator, terrace etc.), brush up on other factors such as the monthly comunidad fee and status of the ITE (building maintenance and inspection, respectively). I drew quick plans of every place I saw and built an Excel sheet to cross-reference features and prices. I didn’t regret it.