The difficulties of searching in Galicia
Anyone searching for Galician property will quickly come up against a fundamental problem of Galician real estate culture that is merely annoying if you are searching locally but often infuriating to the point that you give up and start looking elsewhere if you are searching from a different country.
This problem is that there are two seemingly deeply embedded Galician cultural norms that affect how inmobiliaras (real estate agents) go about their business, which are:
- No seller ever grants exclusivity to any inmobiliaria, and
- No seller will ever commit to paying an inmobiliaria anything, such as a listing fee, other than in the case that that inmobiliaria sells the property.
It logically follows that inmobiliarias avoid putting GPS locations, area maps, street addresses and so on on most listings because doing so enables potential buyers to go and talk directly to sellers in order to avoid the inmobiliaria’s commission (typically around 3%, often more for cheaper or rural properties, and always paid by the seller) and also enables other inmobiliarias to locate and contact the seller in order to try and steal their business.
A further result of this is that inmobiliarias are very focussed on getting potential buyers to visit the property and sign a document to say that the inmobiliaria has shown the property to them in order to secure their commission.
The net result of this is that a typical Galician property is listed vaguely and badly with three or four inmobiliarias, a situation which in the internet age arguably doesn’t really help the seller much and certainly doesn’t work well for international buyers whose only option if interested in a property is to spend precious time and money flying over for a viewing based on a vague description of a property that quite often turns out to be obviously unsuitable at first sight.
How best to search for what you want
Searching for Galician property from abroad is, therefore, not easy. To work out the best way to do it you need to start by clarifying your own answers to a few questions:
Are you serious about buying a (foreign) property?
- No / not really sure / for now I’m just looking out of general interest
In this case you are probably looking at Galicia amongst other areas of Europe and what is going to change your answer to this question is one day coming across a property that you can afford and that inspires you sufficiently.
Galiciaproperty.com can help you with its directory of Galician property websites and occasional postings on facebook, and should that inspirational property ever appear in Galicia and you want it checked out quickly and inexpensively by a locally based, UK qualified architectural technologist then remember our property search service.
Then read on…
Are you serious about buying in Galicia?
- No / not sure / it’s one of a few places I’m considering
Absolutely fair and sensible enough. You may find some useful pages on this site, such as our purchase finance and purchase process sections, that will help you get prepared for when you find the property you want. Otherwise, though, the answer is the same as to the above question.
Then read on…
Do you plan to move to Galicia permanently and are you ready to move soon?
- No / I only want a holiday home, no plans to move abroad / not ready yet.
This means you’re searching from abroad, and that’s a difficult ask in Galicia. As, above, you can use our estate agent directory to look for properties of interest and also our living in Galicia and about Galicia sections to narrow down where you want to target your search.
You can also use our property search service to check out properties for you or to conduct a full property search according to your parameters. Also consider staying in one of the properties in our try before you buy section to get a fuller picture of what living in (your chosen part of) Galicia is really like.
In this case our sincere and honest advice would be to make the move out here, rent a property in the area you’re considering buying and also get started on some of the administrative processes covered in our living in Galicia section.
Doing this will make it much easier and quicker when you find the property you want, and it may also change your mind to some extent about the type of property you want or where you want to live. If your Spanish and local knowledge is limited our estate agent directory and property search or purchase assist services may also be of use to you.
You may be able to find either a short term or a long term place to stay in Galicia in our try before you buy section.
General searching tips
Finally, some general tips for searching for a Galician property:
- From guide books, virtual tours with google streetview and best of all a preparatory visit or two define some specific areas where you want to search and then keep a regular track of all the properties (save them as favourites where you can) listed there to get a clear idea of a) prices in that area, b) availability in that area, and c) how fast things are selling in that area. This will enable you to put a ballpark price on a property, at least assuming its description is accurate.
- The vast majority of real estate agents list their properties on the common metasites (see galiciaproperty’s estate agent directory for a list of these) but also maintain their own websites. Sometimes these websites have more details or higher resolution photos that you might be able to get more information about properties of interest from.
Although meta-sites rarely provide a direct link to an agent’s website, googling (use google.es) the name of the estate agency will normally allow you to find it easily enough.
- When you look at photos from a property of interest try to piece together features to build an accurate map of the property, and especially the outside. Whilst it is natural to give precedence to a good view you would expect that all angles of the property have some coverage. If you find a large segment of the property not covered then it may be that there’s something unattractive there. Similarly a lack of interior photos tends to indicate a problem.
- If you have a location for the property check out the aerial photos of it on google maps to see what’s around it (other houses, roads, etc.). If google has poor resolution for that area then use the Galician aerial survey photomap. You can also use the online Catastro to find out details of a property’s plot and official size (which should match the true size but often doesn’t – read more on this topic in our purchase process and checks section).
…and good luck with your search!