It’s a constant theme running throughout this website that Galician real estate marketing is considerably less sophisticated than in northern European countries and falls well short of the standards expected by international customers.
There is one huge benefit to this which is that Galicia remains comparitively, as foreign property TV programs or in-flight magazines would have it, “undiscovered”.
This is a major factor in why Galicia offers some of the best value for money properties in western Europe, but the standards of real estate agency also make it hard for international customers to connect with properties that are suited to them.
Vague detail, erratic pricing
In more sophisticated real estate markets properties tend to be priced fairly consistently, at least in normal market conditions where supply and demand are in reasonable balance.
Also the advertising of the property will be sufficiently detailed as to allow a reasonable understanding of the property without the need to visit it.
In Galicia things are not this way!
Galician properties are typically listed with the vaguest of detail, no GPS fix, no mention whatsoever of problems with the property (see some examples of this in our property search service section) and priced according to what the owners think they are worth.
Generally, although obviously estate agents will attempt to steer them towards their own valuations these owner valuations are absurdly high (in both good times and bad) but many real estate agents will go along with them just to get things started and the property on their books, especially since they’ve already turned up to take the photos and have drafted the contract.
Buying the Galician way
How this way of advertising ultimately pans out is that potential customers, who are often local and after something very specific in terms of size and location, will go and see properties with little regard for the advertised price and if they want to make an offer will offer (typically supported by the agent who will now be doing their utmost to convince the seller that the offer is reasonable – such are the perils of non-incentivised contracts, as explained in our sales process section) what they think it is worth.
This situation very often turns into a war of attrition that can last for years but does often end up with a sale at a much lower than advertised price (half the advertised price is not unusual for unfinished new builds, derelict rural properties or properties at risk of repossession).
Misconceptions about foreigners
In relation to price it should also be mentioned that many Galicians subscribe to the notion that all foreigners are immeasurably rich and that they are all out to swindle the poor Galicians out of their houses for far less than they are worth!
What this can mean is that if any foreigner views a property the seller will take this as signifying that many more rich foreigners will also be interested in it and that therefore it must be underpriced and therefore they should be highly inflexible on price or even raise their asking price.
This attitude is becoming rarer as Galicia moves (gradually) to a more modern, European economy, but it is certainly still present.
To some extent this can be countered by the correct attitude towards both the seller and the agent when viewing a property (maintain a distance, don’t be too enthusiastic, don’t follow up with an offer too quickly).
Why this kills the international market
The above modus operandi is, of course, highly offputting for international buyers.
Properties are listed at highly variable prices and it’s very hard to get a clear idea of what they are really worth because the listings typically have only small sets of often poor quality, low resolution photos, no GPS location to enable google streetview use and no room sizes.
The only real way to know is to go and visit the properties, but that is time consuming and expensive to do from a different country.
Then, even if you do this you may find you need to leave your offer on the table for a year or two before the seller accepts …all of which is why Galicia stays comparitively “undiscovered”.
Advertised properties rules of thumb
The general rules of thumb in Galicia are, therefore:
- That property listings should be viewed with caution in case they are leaving out important information.
- That prices are not always representative of the actual value of the property (normally they are either reasonable or inflated).
- That prices are often very negotiable but it may take a (very) long time for the seller to accept price reductions.
- That foreigners viewing Galician property may need to incorporate a degree of caution and deliberate image management when viewing properties in order to avoid or at least minimise a “foreigner’s premium” in the price.
And of course this presents yet another opportunity to recommend Galiciaproperty’s search service, which can save serious buyers considerable time, money and stress.