Having returned to the UK, we turned our minds to the last visit to the village and what we thought about the house. This was also while getting ready for the inevitable Christmas fever. Don’t get me wrong, we love Christmas and we enjoy Christmas but does the run up have to be like being in a rugby match whenever you leave the safety of home?
We both felt that buying a place in Spain was a big step and I’d say that we did our best to research everything we could about not only the area but also the purchasing side of things. Of course, the estate agent had told us that he had a solicitor who would carry out the whole process for us and because he “knew” people, it would be done quickly. We tended to think that we would be the ones “done quickly” and so resisted his advances, despite being told that other people were interested in the property.
So, there we were, no firm decision on a purchase but armed with what we thought were some important things to remember.
1. Do not hand over any deposit money to an estate agent. They may try to pressure you but tell them your solicitor will deal with it.
2. Look for your own solicitor, ask around, look for reviews etc.
3. Resist the urge for the legal side to be done “quickly”. At the outset, this might look a cheaper option but from other people’s experiences, it can cost a whole lot more in the long run.
Moving along, Christmas came and went and shortly into the New Year, we ‘d decided that we’d like to take another look at the village and the house, before possibly taking the plunge and buying . A trip for 5 days, and a house in the village rented in March was booked and so, all we had to do was wait until then,before hopefully moving along. The time crept by so slowly but we’d earmarked a solicitor in Malaga, who replied so quickly to our e-mails and gave us a comprehensive breakdown of both the purchase fees and his own fees for carrying out the work, which seemed to be very reasonable.
March came, we flew to Malaga, collected the hire car and drove to Sedella on a beautiful day, blue sky all around, which we hoped was a good omen. We finally reached the village to find it shrouded in mist, making it quite eerie and quiet, considering it was around midday. This didn’t dampen our spirits and after getting settled in the house, we looked out of one of the windows, ( a real treat after the solitary window in our last rented place) and saw nothing. Still misty, we ventured out into the village and across to the house we liked. There wasn’t a great deal to see(literally) and so, we stopped off at a bar in the square , where we were welcomed by lady with a big smile and two delicious hot coffees. She spoke better English than our Spanish but was happy to let us try out the little vocabulary we had. As we finished the coffees, she poured two small glasses of a dark amber liquid from a small barrel and told us it would keep us warm. We sipped a little from our glasses and could feel the warmth spreading downwards. Mrs S was smiling as she said how lovely it was and proceeded to down the rest in short time, while I was still sipping. We asked what it was called and she told us it was “Vino Del Terreno” and is made locally from grapes. Mrs S was looking a little flushed and telling me how hot she felt after drinking the amber nectar. She also said it was strong and so, despite her temperature, I ordered two more coffees and some tapas to try to take the edge of it.
Sitting there, we complimented our host on her English and it turned out, she wasn’t Spanish but Romanian and had learnt Spanish from her son, who was learning it at school. Feeling somewhat inadequate, we paid up and went back through the mist and to our place, where we got very comfortable by the log burning stove and basically chilled out. As it stayed misty, we stayed in and hoped for better weather the next day and we weren’t disappointed. We both agree that the sky looks so much bluer in Spain and after having breakfast on the terrace, we made our way around to the house we liked for another guided tour. This time, not by the estate agent and so, we could relax and try to take in as much as we could. The house was even better this time round and we left in high spirits, no alcohol involved. We were both of us excited and at the same time, trying to look at it from a practical point of view. It was, after all, a big step and we just didn’t want to do something we regretted.
We’d booked tickets for the Alhambra in Granada and the next day, we set out. It was a misty start, which carried on for a lot of the early part of the journey. Up and up we climbed in the fog, roads twisting as I seemed to sit further and further forward. There was a point when the twisting road stopped and a straight road started, my speed got slower and slower in the poor visibility and Mrs S asked why I had almost come to a stop? I said it was because we’d not really driven on anything too straight and so there must be a bend coming up soon. It turned out later, that after about 4 miles of arrow straight road, we did indeed meet the bend and again began climbing a sinuous road, still swathed in mist. After a while, the mist suddenly stopped and we were at the top of a hill and in front of us were masses of almond trees, bursting with blossom. It was a glorious site to see and especially as we hadn’t had anything to look at prior to that.
We reached Granada and had a fantastic time. The Alhambra really is a stunning place to visit and being March, it wasn’t too crowded. The drive back was hassle free and thankfully, fog free too and we got to see all the wonderful scenery we’d missed earlier that day.
The rest of the week flew by but we had a good chance to see the village at a different time of the year. Some things don’t change though, the people were just as friendly as before. We spoke to a British couple who’d lived in the village for a few years and they were so helpful with all of our questions, no matter how daft we thought they might be. (The questions that is, not the couple). We left Sedella, quietly confident that we’d found a place we loved but there was still that niggling feeling at the back of our minds to just take a bit more time. We’d never made any promises to anyone regarding the house, so we didn’t feel that we were stringing anyone along and so, we went back to the UK to mull it all over and to make sure it was what we wanted.
I doubt it was more than one week, when we’d decided to go for it and to try make an offer for the house. An e-mail was sent to our solicitor, who, again replied back quickly and said to let him handle the negotiations, as it was a little different to buying in the UK. He said he would go in with an offer 20% below the asking price, which we both thought was a derisory offer but he assured us that this was the way the game was played. It wasn’t long before we received the vendors answer and it was a resounding “NO”. This didn’t come as a shock to us but the solicitor told us not to worry and that we should leave things for a few days, to let the vendors think it over. We thought they had thought it over and having given us a no, didn’t think they’d be thinking anything over. Four days later, the solicitor said that we should give it until after the weekend, to see if the vendors had reconsidered. Monday came and still no movement from them. I imagine both sets of solicitors were sitting there, thinking the other party would bend. The estate agent got involved and somehow managed to upset his clients to the extent that they wouldn’t have any further communication with us. Things were not looking good at this point and we began to feel a little deflated with the way things were going, or not going.
Contact was eventually made via a mutual contact and after a few emails back and forth, a deal was struck and we had our holiday home in Spain.
I can’t tell you how many emotions we went through in the short time after having our offer accepted, joy, relief, amazement and possibly even shock. It was slightly detached and strange because unlike on the TV, we weren’t even in Spain at the time of acceptance. Still, we stood there, staring at each other in slight disbelief until huge smiles came and we realised, we’d finally done it.
The solicitors did their thing and we were in a position to complete towards the end of April, which was certainly quick and very very easy. The trouble was, that there was no way we could get over to Spain for any length of time and so it was, that we flew to Malaga early one morning at he end of April, opened a Spanish bank account. before almost jogging to the notaries office to complete the purchase. This took a little while because everything was done in both Spanish and English but sometime after midday, we owned a property in Spain. We just about had time for a drink by Malaga cathedral, before getting a taxi back to the airport and flight back to the UK. By the time we actually got home, we were so tired, we couldn’t really take in what had just happened but we’d done it.
All Images © 2008- TheSlowWalkers