5 keys to buying and renovating property at a distance?

It’s very easy to fall in love with Málaga, to dream of buying a property and investing in a re-design or re-furbishment to create your dream home in the Andalucian sun. We at Málaga Design and Living did just that!

In a city that’s undergoing its own ‘renovation project’ and transforming rapidly, investing in the property market is challenging but ultimately rewarding with the right support and guidance through the process.

Having been active in all aspects of the Málaga property market over the last six years here are our five key findings:

Location, location, location

Màlaga offers a fantastic range of life-style opportunities. Thoroughly researching locations and being well-informed on the pros and cons of buying in the historic centre, beach, ‘up and coming’ districts or suburbs is key to making the right purchase decision.

The Málaga property market in early 2022 is low on quality stock and good properties coming onto market that are fairly priced will sell quickly. With this in mind it’s important to hold your nerve and not to jump into making a hasty purchase in a location that you’ve not properly researched. You don’t want to find that the idyllic location in the historic centre at 3pm may be the central focus of Màlaga nightlife at 3am. Likewise, ‘up and coming’ could be a 5 year, 10 year or 20 year project or just one person’s matter of opinion.

Property pricing and costs

Understanding pricing in a property market takes time and a lot of research. In a market that’s moving quickly it’s even more difficult to gauge value for money and fair pricing. In Málaga there are a significant numbers of properties advertised for sale that have not been professionally valued….the owner has decided a price with no connection to its fair market value.

Idealista.com and Fotocasa.es are two good platforms to start your Málaga research, but they have their limitations. Photographs and descriptions can be deceptive and on occasion they may even be just be an artist’s impression of the future potential of the property. Properties are often advertised by multiple agents at different price points which can also be very confusing. Most importantly, though, there are the properties that are sold ‘off market’ and don’t make it onto a public platform.

Nothing beats talking to as many estate agents as possible, tapping into all the local knowledge you are able to and viewing a wide a range of properties. Remember, too, when thinking about your budget, that in addition to the price you agree on a property (estate agency fees are usually, but not always, included in this) there could be between 12 and 15% of additional taxes and costs.

If you are looking to buy a property as an investment for short vacation rentals, make sure you have thoroughly researched its potential and viability. Over the last couple of years new restrictions and controls have come into place in Málaga. You now need to have a town licence as well as permission from the residents’ community in your building to use your property for short lets.

The Lawyer

Wherever you are in the world, finding the right property lawyer will ensure your purchase process runs as smoothly as possible. When buying in Málaga, the right lawyer will understand all the complications of making an international purchase, the need to focus on your project and communicate clearly throughout the process. He/she will act independently on your behalf and will focus on your best interests, alerting you of any complications in the purchase or pitfalls of the property and address any legal questions that may arise. The cost for this is usually 1% of the purchase price with the cost of any searches etc charged on top.

The Architect

If the purchase is a renovation project the time to bring on board an architect is before making any formal offer on the property. This ensures the viability of a project is confirmed up front and saves a lot of heartache down the line. For example, if you are looking to buy in the historic centre, remember that you are in one of Europe’s oldest cities which now, rightly has numerous strict building regulations and controls. In the pedestrianised zones there will be additional complexity and cost.

The Renovation Project

Finding the best tradesmen and builders as well as costing and managing a renovation project at a distance is a daunting task. And that’s before taking into account that you’re working in a different language and culture. It’s difficult to know where to start and who to take advice from, but it’s nevertheless fundamental to the success of the project. Excellent resources are available in Málaga, whether it’s builders, tradesmen, interior designers, furnishing and soft furnishing suppliers, but it’s a matter of finding them and getting commitment to your project at a very busy time in the construction industry post COVID. Unlike other locations along the Costa del Sol, Spanish language is necessary and as with any building project, communication and regular site checks are vital to keep the project on track and ultimately achieving your vision.

Sally Bainbridge is the Director of Málaga Design and Living and works with international clients buying and refurbishing property in and around Málaga city.

This article was first published on ‘Guide to Malaga’ site in January 2022