Our Spanish story:
It is the beginning of June 2017 when we and our friends (we are 3 couples) for the 7th time in 5 years, are in Benissa for the annual holiday or the end of year celebration. Until a few years ago the area was completely unknown to us but under the impetus of friends who have a country residence here, we’ve soon learned to appreciate the region.
“The first asset” and most likely the reason to come here on vacation is the pleasant climate, of course, but there is so much more that attracts us to Moraira, Benissa and Calpe. The “easy going lifestyle”, the casualness, the delicious food, the hospitality of the people, the friendly prices, etc. are just some of the many advantages of the Costa Blanca.
For many, vacation means peace and doing nothing. In our group the ladies enjoy a quiet afternoon in the sun around the pool. Two of the men really don’t like sunbathing and prefer to take a walk. That’s how we stumbled (I will never forget) on Sunday, June 4 during one of the many afternoon walks against a gate with a sign “Se vende”. Nothing unusual because there are hundreds in the area, but this was a nice house in that typical modern Spanish style, on top of the mountain in an oasis of peace. We both thought it was a nice “thing”, or at least nice enough to try to have a better look than from the street. Bruno pushed the gate and yes, it opened. Bruno also noticed that the shutters on the upper floor were completely closed and could therefore decide that the house was more than likely not occupied. We gathered all our courage and stepped inside, so that we could take a look around the whole house and the garden. We could also secretly peep inside and at first glance everything seemed fine, except for a few details (pool needed a makeover, because it was quite desolate, the covered pergola seemed on the small side for such a large house, because in the end we all want to live outdoors as much as possible in Spain, but otherwise there was really nothing insurmountable and the house was in very good condition (was only about 6 years old we would later find out)).
NOT or NEVER intended to buy a house in Spain, but the curiosity was triggered and I wanted to have a look inside the house. I mailed the same 4th of June (Sunday) with the question whether it was possible to visit the house. That same evening I got an answer and yes, two days later on Tuesday we were allowed to visit the house. An appointment was made and so it happened. The three of us (the 3 men) went on that famous Tuesday (June 6th) where we met “Anja” from Moraira Invest Group for the first time. (Later it will become clear that she is the red thread throughout the process). She represented the seller of the house. We then walked around with the three of us and even went to the “catacombs” of the house to check if everything was OK up to and including the foundations. We could not find any defect that was not immediately visible and what we also noticed was the working method of Anja. We got carte blanche and she did not “push” anything, plus she answered all the questions we asked her (the fun ones and the less fun). Sometimes we were told in all honesty “I do not know”, but that did not bother us either. Rather, “I do not know” than a forced lie to spawn us. Her casual approach was one of the reasons that gave us a very comfortable and pleasant feeling after our visit.
After a first (rather long) visit and a barrage of questions to Anja we returned with the promise that we would make a bid. That is how it happened, that same day (June 6th) I made an offer. After two days of negotiating back and forth, there was a “deal”. That was on Thursday 8th of June. That same evening, the sales agreement was concluded and the advance was paid.
And there you are, you have just ACCIDENTALLY AND TOTALLY UNEXPECTEDLY bought a house, you speak several languages, except a word of Spanish and do not know where to start first or last. (In the margins nonetheless mentioning that at the signing that evening there was a misunderstanding about a relatively small amount. It is the CEO of Moraira Invest Group, Mr. Arie Van Staalduinen who intervened and who negotiated in our advantage with the seller. We found out later that we were probably at the wrong end and misunderstood, yet Arie never made a point of it, great class, that man!!).
And then …. Suddenly the most bizarre “stories” of things that happen on the Spanish real estate market are going through your mind making you a bit insecure and allowing doubts to take over. Actually, we knew nothing, we did not know anyone and we were about to make a fairly important purchase. We were already reassured a bit by someone we knew in Belgium, who now works at Belfius Bank and who had worked in Alicante for 10 years at the Santander bank. That gave us the feeling that all those “cowboy stories” that go around will surely have existed in the past but that Spain is now evolving quickly and that everything has become a lot more professional. (And now, 1 year later, I can fully agree).
Since we did not know anyone we could only fall back on one party and that was Moraira Invest Group, the seller. They have arranged everything for us down to the last detail. In Dutch whenever possible, in English where it needed to be for everything else. They arranged for us the lawyer, the notary, etc. The only thing we had to do was follow and sign when necessary. The “full” administrative cost would be a small 12% and indeed, on the bill in September at the lawyer we could determine that the final fee was about 11.5% on the purchase price of the house. And nothing else has come up afterwards. Once again, everything happened as we were told.
There was a rental contract with Belvilla on the house. One of the purchase conditions was that we had to comply with the existing rental contract (which is also logical). Since the house had a high occupancy rate during the summer and the rental fees were substantial, I wanted the sale to be complete before the 31st of June so that all the rental income would accrue to us. And here it goes …
Many Belgian or Dutch people will be astonished while reading the following text.
So on Sunday, June 4 we stumbled upon the house. On Tuesday, June 6 we visited the house and also made a bid. June 8 there was an agreement about the price and on Friday, June 23, that is exactly 15 days later, everything was signed at the notary and the house was our property. You should try that in Belgium or the Netherlands. Good luck !!
And when you think that was it, there was just that little extra. It turned out that the pool was NOT regularized. I reported that this would be a breaking point for me because I did not want a house in warm Spain without a swimming pool. No problem, within a week that would be solved. Knowing our Belgian bureaucracy, I was of course very sceptical BUT, that was beyond the Spaniards. By June 23rd, the day of the signing at the notary, it was effectively legalized. You understand that I already had to review my opinion about Spain. We can learn a lot from this.
There you go, so simple, smooth and easy everything went during the purchase of that house. A child can do the laundry. So far, so good.
And then…. Because we were not there yet.
As I already mentioned, we found the pergola too small in relation to the “size” of the house. So we wanted a larger pergola. Remodelling? Yes, but how and with whom and how do you explain that. A thousand questions, zero answers.
Although Anja’s job had been done for a long time and this did not belong to her task as a saleswoman, we had no other party to rely upon. Again Moraira Invest Group assisted us during the complete project of renovation from A to Z.
During that renovation I had to adjust my opinion or better said my prejudices about Spain a second time. All works were executed perfectly although they did take 2 weeks longer than expected but that did not bother us because quality was more important to us than the speed (after all, it was the winter months). And whether that quality is there! Just look at the photos and everything becomes clear.
During the Christmas period the house was rented to a Belgian V.I.P. That was right in the works and we were promised that the yard would be completely cleaned up before the guests would arrive. If in my whole story one thing has gone wrong, it was that. What I understood under tidying, the Spaniards had understood differently. They had just put all materials / work equipment together in different places until after the holidays, while everything had to be removed.
So you get a phone call from the concierge that all work supplies are lying around in the garden, a day before Christmas, one day before the guests arrived and you are standing at 1850 KM from the house. Once again (as always), Anja ensured that all materials were gone and that everything looked perfect before our minister was due. In retrospect, this was the most stressful moment in our entire Spanish process.
Probably now it becomes much clearer why I wrote before that ANJA was (and still is) the red thread throughout our project. For everything, and literally everything where we had difficulties, Anja and the Moraira Invest Group have been the rock in the surf. We are now a year later and it will not surprise you that we still have very close ties with Anja and her husband Alex. Every time we come to Spain, we have a bite to eat together, so at a nice “dinner” we pick up stories about our experiences and laugh about it.
What once was an abstract real estate agent for us, has now become our comrades. As a company that counts! In terms of service you can hardly score higher, I think.
PS We are now a year further on and we like it more and more here. To the extent that my wife dares to drop sometimes, to settle permanently in Spain and leave Belgium for what it is. Although I am not ready for it today, I certainly do not exclude that possibility. If it ever comes this far then we will certainly build our own place here, completely to our liking and according to our building style. And if it ever comes to that … … we already know who will build that house for us.
Our names and telephone numbers are known at Moraira Invest Group, you can always request them as far as we are concerned.