Buying property – it’s usually the biggest purchase of your life, but what should you look out for when purchasing your pied-a-terre in Tenerife? At the beautiful Bahía Príncipe we cajoled four friends to share their experiences.
Julia Greenland, Manager, Key Properties
Originally from London, moved to Tenerife 16 years ago leaving a career in show business. Lives in Playa de Las Américas with husband Darrell and teenage twins Jonathan and Michael.
Shelagh Stevens, Property Developer
Originally from Grimsby, moved to Tenerife 20 years ago. Lives with husband Mike in San Eugenio Alto.
Cheryl James, Cabin Crew
Divides her time between Leeds and Tenerife. Shares an island home in San Miguel with partner, Ainsley.
Lisa Maunder, Estate Agent, Tenerife Land and Property
Born in Blackpool, moved to Tenerife a year ago leaving a job as a hotel sales manager. Lives in San Miguel with husband Michael and son Jack.
What type of property did you buy and how long ago was it purchased?
Shelagh: The first property I bought was a one-bedroom apartment, pre-construction, in 1986, but I’ve bought several since. We now own five different properties; the latest one is a detached villa in San Eugenio Alto, which we bought for our retirement.
Julia: I bought two 2-bedroom apartments next door to each other in Las Américas in 1993, which I then turned into a house.
Cheryl: I bought a four-bedroom townhouse in San Miguel with my boyfriend.
Lisa: I bought a three-bedroom townhouse in Jardin de San Miguel from an investor in June 2003.
Why did you choose your particular property? What were the deciding factors?
Cheryl: For me it was definitely location, location, location! We’re five minutes from the airport, which is really useful as we both travel regularly between Tenerife and England. We need to use the airport about twice a week. The house is also just a couple of minutes from the motorway.
Shelagh: Yes, location was important for me too. I wanted a quiet, secluded area but one that was within walking distance to the shops. I chose San Eugenio because it’s an area that’s well established and one that isn’t going to change much.
Lisa: For me, the most important thing was that I didn’t want to live in an apartment. I would have bought a house if I had stayed in England, so I felt more inclined to buy one here. Also, I really didn’t want to live in a tourist area. I finally chose San Miguel because I always used to go there on my yearly holidays to the island.
Shelagh: I fell in love with the property. It felt very welcoming and it had everything I wanted – a pool, gardens, privacy and fabulous views.
Lisa: Me too. The house I chose was exactly what I wanted. I only looked at the one complex and viewed two houses before I made my decision.
Julia: We chose our two apartments because the owners were really desperate to sell and at that time we just couldn’t afford the kind of villa we really wanted. We’d looked at two or three villas before we made our decision. They were just what we wanted but far too expensive at the time and getting a mortgage was extremely difficult. Location was very important as well. My husband is a singer/entertainer and he does all of his performances in Las Américas, so I really didn’t want him to have to drive on the motorway at night. Fortunately the apartments were at the back of the complex in an extremely quiet part of town.
Lisa: Another benefit for us was that it was near a school and most of the owners had young children. This, along with year-round sunshine, means there is a great community atmosphere. It’s a wonderful environment to raise a family in.
Cheryl: Family was very important for us to. We wanted to be able to turn our single’s pad into a family home when the time was right.
What location would you consider a good investment right now?
Shelagh: I’d say that a good investment at the moment is all, or most of the developments in Fañabe and surrounding the golf courses.
Julia: I’d say La Caleta and still Los Cristianos and Las Américas.
Cheryl: There seems to be a lot of development going on in San Miguel and Los Abrigos at the moment.
Lisa: Well, it really depends on the type of investment you’re after. If you’re looking for rental income then a resale holiday on an established holiday complex is a good investment. But, if you were looking for capital growth, then I’d advise a pre-construction property.
Have you ever bought property in England? If so, how would you compare your experiences?
Julia: I’ve been living in Spain for 25 years now so I’ve never bought a property in England.
Cheryl: Me neither.
Lisa: I bought two properties in England and I’d say that the service you get in the UK doesn’t compare to the service you find in Tenerife. Estate agents here give you a lot more help and advice, especially in the after sales service.
Shelagh: I have a home in England as well, although I think buying and selling is very much the same in Tenerife and England.
What advice would you give someone who wants to buy a property as an investment?
Shelagh: Go for it! But make sure you do your homework and employ a lawyer you know you can definitely trust – one who’s fluent in Spanish and English and will explain everything to you in detail.
Julia: Yes, and if you’re buying property for rental income, my advice would be to ensure that the rental income on the desired complex was all that it was made out to be. Also, get a mortgage so that the monthly quota was equal to the rental income.
Lisa: I think location is the key. A pre-construction project in the right area provides a good return on capital, especially since you’d only be paying a small proportion of the purchase price before completion of, say, forty per cent of the development.
Cheryl: I agree. Pre-construction (off-plan) has been the way forward for us. Buy low, sell high! Saying that, it’s important to look around. If you’re buying to let, location is really important.
What was your experience of Spanish bureaucracy when it came to making your purchase?
Shelagh: It can be very confusing for a first time buyer but you get used to it.
Julia: We didn’t have any problems at all because our first purchase in Spain was done through friends and a mutual lawyer. Also, the fact that I speak Spanish has meant that I’ve never really encountered problems.
Lisa: It was really easy for us too because the agent recommended a good lawyer. Between them they took care of all the paperwork so I could just concentrate on furnishing the house.
Julia: Any good agent will take a client through the whole process, keeping them informed all the way. For me, post-sale back up is really important.
Cheryl: It wasn’t too complicated for me. I suppose things like signing papers took longer than we expected. Also there were a few things, like getting the gas connected – that you can do over the phone in England – that here you’ve got to go in person to the town hall to do.
What advice would you give to someone who has their heart set on renovating a dilapidated farmhouse in the hills?
Julia: I’d say, go for it! I’ve known clients who have done just that and have said later that it was a wonderful experience.
Shelagh: Yes, but make sure you find yourself a good builder. The villa we bought was in need of extensive renovation, which we’re doing at the moment. We’ve been very fortunate to find an excellent builder, the company is called ‘Construcción Alfredo’. He’s prepared to travel all the way down from Los Realejos.
Lisa: My advice would be to talk to other people who have bought a similar property and find out where they went wrong and what problems they came across. Also, make sure you do you homework concerning things like planning permission, utility services and so on.
Julia: Yes, it’s very important to get a solicitor to check out the deeds and all the other documents before you part with any money.
Cheryl: It might not be easy as you first think. It’s a lot of hard work, but definitely worth it.
Did you go through an English or Spanish Estate Agent? What were your reasons?
Cheryl: We bought our property directly from the developer who was Spanish. It just seemed like the simplest option at the time.
Shelagh: I think it comes down to choosing a reputable agent who will lead you through the whole experience.
Lisa: I bought my property through an English agent because of the language barrier and also because they were part of a recognised estate agency association.
Julia: You know, whenever ask my clients this question, the answer is always immediate; they’d never go to a Spanish agent. I think there’s still an element of mistrust, although I think it’s the same with all nationalities. Italians would rather go to an Italian agent, French people to a French one …
What big lesson have you learnt from the whole property buying experience?
Lisa: That I should have taken out a mortgage and bought another property as an investment. My house has gone up in value by more than €70,000 in 12 months. Actually, I wish I’d bought ten years ago instead of waiting.
Shelagh: To be honest, I don’t even think about it anymore. I’ve always enjoyed the process of buying and selling.
Cheryl: Also, I think it’s important not to compare the property buying system here with what it’s like in England. You should talk to as many people as you can who’ve bought property here and find out how the system works and what the laws are.
Julia: I’ve learnt through my selling experience that it’s important for would-be buyers to find an agent that they feel they can and go one step at a time.
Cheryl: Patience is definitely a virtue, although nothing’s put us off yet. Actually, we’re already looking for our next property.
This article has been supplied by kind permission of Living Tenerife