Pros and Cons of Living in Spain and Buying a Villa Via an Agent or Dealing Direct With the Owners

Buying Through an Agent or Buying Direct from the Seller.

The boom and bust of the Spanish property market is fast drawing to a close with ever diminishing supplies of ‘bargain basement’ properties on offer. Savvy owners who know the real value of their properties refuse to be swept along by the sheer panic being installed into the others by ruthless property agents and fortune seekers alike.

Some of these agents have little or no interest in their clients who are trying to sell and they willfully drive the sellers prices down to ensure that they continue to achieve their margins – come what may. These agents make little or no effort beyond, listing the property on the internet and a quick showing in their shop window for a few days. Ashamedly, most of these Agents are British.

Over recent years, there has been a significant increase in the number of sellers listing their properties themselves. This means that they can offer a real discount to prospective buyers of around 5% of the sale price by not having to pay an agent this money!

Agents will tell prospective buyers that they are able to protect them against unscrupulous sellers but who protects the buyers from unscrupulous agents?

Just 5 or 6 years ago, some Agents in Spain were charging up to 10% of the sale price in fees whilst in the UK the charges were often less than 1%

What can an Agent offer that a Private Seller Cannot?

*Most offer free transport from your hotel to the viewing and back

*They have a selection of properties in a variety of areas to show you

*They can negotiate on your behalf with the seller over price

*They can point you in the direction of their favorite lawyer

*They will sometimes collect and return you to the airport for free

*They will email you frequently to update you about properties and prices**

*They can sometimes Speak a Language that Some Sellers Cannot

What are the Advantages of Dealing Direct with the Seller?

*The Seller strips the Agent’s fees out of the price – The Buyer gets 5% discount

*Most Sellers know instinctively how far they can go on price reductions

*Sellers know their way around their own home, Agents seldom do

*The Buyer can ask any questions directly without fear of later contradiction

*The Seller can explain exactly how the Buyer can get the best out of the property

*The Buyer can agree all the arrangements with the Seller without complications

*The Seller can be just as helpful in directing you to a number of lawyers

*The Buyer can generally communicate 24/7 with the Seller but not with an Agent

*Some Sellers do speak more than one European language

*With the Seller you have as much time as you want to inspect and re-inspect

There is now an abundance of websites advertising Direct Sales by Owners, why give 5% to the Agents for their mediocre efforts?

This situation is much the same whether you are buying in Spain, France, Italy, Greece or anywhere else on the Mediterranean.

Living in Spain.

Spain continues to be the favorite hunting ground for property and the English in particular have had a long love affair with Spain. The German people love it here too and thousands have made their home here accompanied by the French, Dutch, Belgians, Swiss and more recently the Russians.

Broadly speaking there are few coastal places in Europe as beautiful as the Costa Blanca region and in particular around Moraira. This area of Spain is considered by the World Health Organisation to be one of the top places to live a long life.

Despite the hard time that Europe in general and Spain, Italy and Greece in particular are going through, there are many valid reasons for living here.


Spain enjoys long hot periods throughout the summer months and mostly bright sunny days throughout the winter months. When it rains it pours but when that is over and done with – the sun shines again!

The Rain in Spain does not fall mainly on the plain. It falls along the coastal regions too and sometimes there are disasters as occur in all of Europe and elsewhere.

The winter nights are cool and often very cold since Spain is a cold country with a lot of sunshine. Those retiring here will need their Winter Fuel Allowance just as they did in the UK but over a shorter period of time.

Sometimes high winds develop out of the blue and then die down to a mere whisper. A gentle breeze in the hottest months is a joy to behold!


It is clean and the air smells sweet! There are not many factories belching out obnoxious fumes if any. The ‘ITV’ test, which is the equivalent of the UK MOT, ensures that Motor Vehicles do not pollute the atmosphere.


Altogether, the scenery in this area is breathtaking. Whether you are travelling along a coastal road or passing through the mountains and valleys there is always a wow factor about what is there for you to see. Places like Guadalest and various waterfalls like Fonts D’Algar are major tourist attractions. When you live here you can visit them as often as you like.


Spain like any other country has its crime and crime statistics but the police here are far less tolerant of thugs, hooligans and general misconduct. Generally people can go about their business without being molested.

However, people driving from airports in rental cars should ensure that they are not being followed by carrying out simple checks.

Occasionally there are small gangs of non-Spanish origination that do follow rental cars around suspecting that the occupants might be unsure of their directions and a little gullible. Never stop on a motorway unless there is a serious accident or the road is blocked or you are directed to do so by police.

The writer has found the situation here to be vastly better than in the UK.


Fresh vegetables, meat, fish and poultry are readily available in all shopping areas and the range of products is extremely wide. There are outdoor markets during all weekdays in differing towns and a profusion of very modern Supermarkets are dotted about throughout the area.

Supermarkets have improved significantly during the period that the writer has lived in the area (9 years). A number of large Supermarket groups could now easily match and ofttimes better the likes of Tesco and Sainsburys.

Eight or nine years ago it was almost impossible to find a food shop open on Saturday afternoons and Sundays. now most Supermarkets are open all day on Saturdays and until lunchtime on Sundays.

Food Price

Spain`s entry into the Euro brought with it increased pricing in just about everything as the country struggled to match the expectations of their senior partners in Central and Northern Europe. however, food prices are still lower than most of these countries and the quality is absolutely fine.


Alcohol is still cheaper in Spain than most Northern European countries but be warned – there is a growing intolerance to drink-driving here and the legal limit is lower than the UK. There are moves afoot to move to a Zero Tolerance situation.

The cost of a taxi pales into insignificance when compared to the loss of an innocent victims life or the lives of passengers travelling with a drunk driver.

Eating Out.

One of the most enjoyable activities here is to take your lunch or dinner at one of the multitude of restaurants around. There are innumerable choices with just about every dish generally available throughout the world – on offer here.

Eating In.

Eating at home can be just as pleasurable as eating out! most people have a terrace with a view and sufficient shade to enjoy eating outside for most of the year. It is a lot cheaper and you can have a drink without worrying about getting home. You can even light the BBQ and sizzle a few sausages, steaks and the like!


There are numerous beautiful sandy beaches where one can swim or bathe or sunbathe along the road from Moraira to Calpe, or around Javea and Denia and most people have their own private pool to swim whenever they want in the day and into the night! If you budget can stand it, have a pool heating system installed and be able to swim all year round. Be warned, the air temperatures reach very high levels in Summer.


for those with young families, there are both public and private schools available according to their means. Education standards are pretty much on par with Europe in general with all subjects delivered in the national language and or a regional language like Valenciano or Catalunian, depending upon where you choose to settle.

The Spanish people absolutely dote on children and always put them first.


For retired people there is the option to go private or use the public health services having at first applied for a SIPP card. For Pensioners and their dependents, the British Government has a reciprocal arrangement with Spain and other countries but not all have the same. This means that your government picks up the bill for your medical costs including hospital treatment.

Hospitals are excellent and very clean despite swinging cuts taking place right now and medical staff are both skillful and in many cases do speak some English. Generally speaking however, one is advised to use the services of an economic translator if your Spanish language skills are poor.


There are a lot of ex-pats from the UK in this area and English is widely spoken as too is German. Many of the local communities and Town Halls hold low-cost Spanish language classes for adults of all nationalities. The writer often has conversations in French and German with peoples from those countries living here.


Public transport is available in some areas and is generally cheap and comfortable but most people will need their own car if only to do the weekly shop and explore the countryside.

Taxis are quite widely available but there are very strict laws against anyone using their private vehicle for hire or reward. Collecting family or friends from airports like Alicante or Valencia can sometimes be challenged by the police who might mistake you as trying to operate on a hire basis. Providing you can reassure them that your passengers are family or friends they will make their farewells and leave you to get on.

Fuel Costs.

for a long time, the cost of petrol and diesel was considerably cheaper than the rest of Europe but Spain has all but caught up. At today’s date unleaded 95 is 1.52 Euros a Litre. With the pound Sterling fetching just over 1.20 Euros at the time of this article, that equates to 1.27GBP.


House Tax or ‘IBI’ as it is called here, is around €500 p.a. for a 3 bed, 3 bath detached villa with private pool, considerable less than it would be in the UK. It is collected from your bank by the local office.

‘Suma’, is the equivalent of car tax and also rubbish collection from the various bins you are invited to take your waste to. It works out at about 250 Euros in total and along with the ‘IBI’ it can if you apply in time, be collected over 6 months.

Income tax has a top rate of around 45 % which is similar to the UK and is payable on a P.A.Y.E basis or Self-Employment along with Social Security charges if you work here.

Under a reciprocal arrangement with the UK government you should avoid UK tax if you register to pay tax in Spain on your income from the UK – typically pensions.

Spain is altogether an amazing place to live providing that you don’t live in an isolated or insular way. Interact with the people and you will enjoy living here.

The Euro will surely survive but if it doesn’t there will always be the good old Peseta! Spain is working hard like Britain to clear its debts and better times will return. Property prices will rise again and investments will be sound.

Come and join us and find your home in the sun!

Whenever you decide to start looking for your home in Spain, why not consider the properties that people themselves are advertising at discount prices? There are always some real bargains to be had. Dealing with a vendor directly cannot harm you health or wealth and you will have no less legal protection than you would have by using an Agent! The laws applying to the Sales and Purchase arrangements are exactly the same. Both sides choose their own lawyer and as with a sale through an Agent, the final agreement is always completed before the Notary or Notaire. When you deal face to face you can be more sure of the state of play than with a third party involved and it can be a pleasant experience.

Some of the questions racing through your mind can be asked and answered in one day not through a series of disjointed telephone calls or emails over days or weeks. Invariably all the answers to your questions are rooted in the person you are negotiating with and you are looking at! My young family and I are moving to France to pursue some business activity there and our fabulous villa is for sale. We will miss this wonderful scenery around us.