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5 keys to buying and renovating property in Malaga at a distance

As Malaga fans know, this is a city that’s easy to fall in love with. So much so that more often than not, you’ll dream of buying a home and doing it up to become your haven in the Andalusian sun. And it’s a dream that can come true, but buying and renovating property in Malaga also comes with unique challenges especially if you’re going it alone. It’s even more difficult when you don’t live in the city and don’t have the luxury of time and money to visit every weekend to check up on progress. Plus, of course, there’s the language barrier – even decent Spanish speakers could struggle to explain exactly what they mean to an electrician or window fitter.

However, with the right support and guidance, buying and renovating property in Malaga is a dream that you can achieve and with no nightmares along the way! To find out how, read on for five keys to success.  

Read 10 tips before you buy property in Malaga

Location, location, location

The challenge? Finding the right place to buy and then a quality property in it.

Malaga offers a fantastic range of lifestyle 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 Malaga property market in early 2022 is low on quality stock and as a result, good and fairly-priced properties sell quickly when they come onto the market.  But just because there’s a shortage doesn’t mean you should jump into a hasty purchase in a location that you haven’t properly researched.

You don’t want to find that the idyllic location in the historic centre at 3pm may be the central focus of Malaga 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.

Holding your nerve and making considered decisions on the back of careful research is key.

The solution? Use the services of a professional property finder who knows Malaga inside and out and has comprehensive market knowledge.

See what’s for sale in Malaga right now

Property pricing

The challenge? Gauging value for money and fair pricing.

Malaga currently has a fast-moving market making it even harder than usual to ascertain if a property offers value for money and a wise investment. The city also has a significant number of homes on the market without a professional valuation and whose price tag is based on what the owner thinks it’s worth rather than true and fair market value.

Add to this, the limitations of online property portals. Photographs and descriptions can be deceptive and sometimes they may 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 sold ‘off market’ and don’t make it onto a public platform.

And then there are the taxes and fees to budget for. Estate agency fees are usually, but not always, included in the price and you also need to allow between 10 and 13% for expenses such as property transfer tax, legal fees and notary and property registry costs.

The solution? Take expert advice from someone who understands the Malaga property market.

The Lawyer

The challenge? Making sure your interests (and money) are represented and defended from start to finish.

When buying in Malaga, 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.  They’ll act independently on your behalf and focus on your best interests, alerting you of any complications in the purchase or pitfalls of the property and addressing any legal questions that may arise. The cost for this is usually 1% of the purchase price.

The solution? Ask around for recommendations for lawyers from people you trust, check the lawyer’s credentials and request to see some client testimonials.

The Architect

The challenge? Finding out whether your renovation ideas are feasible and within your budget.

Unless you’re buying off-plan or a brand-new property in Malaga, the chances are that you’ll want to do some work. This might be a simple update of fixtures and fittings or an entire revamp of the space.

Whatever your plans, you’re likely to need an architect who will also be able to advise on building regulations and controls (Malaga has plenty!). And bear in mind that renovating a property in Malaga in a pedestrianised area will have added complexity and cost.

The solution? If you’re planning a major renovation, get an architect on board before making any formal offer on the property. This confirms the viability of a project upfront and saves a lot of heartache down the line.

The renovation

The challenge? You’re not in Malaga, don’t know how to find the best professionals and don’t speak Spanish.

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 Malaga, 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, Malaga is very Spanish and good knowledge of the language is necessary. And as with any building project, regular communication and site checks are vital to keep the project on track and ultimately achieve your vision.   

The solution? Get a professional to manage your entire renovation project from start to finish. No need to make frequent costly visits to supervise the work – just leave it in the hands of a professional so you have zero stress during the process and maximum enjoyment when it’s complete.

The experts in buying and renovating property in Malaga

Sally Bainbridge is the Director of Málaga Design and Living, a bespoke service helping international clients buy and create beautiful homes in an exceptional location.

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