To be honest I never set out to become a property manager, I didn’t have a big idea one day of moving to Spain and setting up this business, I sort of fell into it and then took it from there. We moved from the UK to Gibraltar, my husband works for a betting company there and I decided to give it a go living abroad. I have a background in administration, health and safety and auditing. After working in Gibraltar for an eccentric millionaire – another story!! I fell pregnant and shortly after that fell pregnant again! With two small boys we decided to move to Spain. Having worked all my life, being at home with two babies was a shock to the system.
As I began to meet people in the area I started doing some meet and greets for some rental apartments, it was great – some adult conversation. From there I met some cleaners and slowly built up relations with contractors & local maintenance men. Before long we had about 4 properties which we rented and looked after and word of mouth began to bring us more. My mother moved over from the UK and we then formed our company. I discovered that the information needed for setting up companies and what to expect was not very forthcoming, we set it up with our local gestor but to be honest probably didn’t know what we are looking at financially.
As far as I am aware there is nothing available for small businesses in Spain, you pay the same social security and taxes as a large company and there are no concessions. We set up an S.C. company which is a partnership, it is not a limited company but hopefully we will look to move into this at a later stage so I will be able to give you a step by step guide!
I chose to develop our business because it meant that I could work yet still be there if the children needed me as we don't have the safety net of a large family network. Joy and I manage our shifts between us, it is a set up which works for us but means that I do a lot of work in the mornings, answer enquiries in the afternoons and catch up with the rest of the emails in the evenings. Property management takes up a lot of time, in fact it can almost be 24/7. You also have to be a mediator between rental clients and owners, have the patience of a saint when dealing with developers and learn how to smile sweetly when trying to get the maintenance guy to finish the work on time when really you want to scream at him.
For us it took a while to get things moving in the right direction, we would build up relations with other people, particularly maintenance men only to find that they wouldn’t even turn up to give us a quote or they would forget to book the work in – how annoying! We have also discovered that there are some problems which are simply very difficult to fix. To give an example, we have an apartment where the air con control box has a fault. There are three speeds but it only works on two of them. The company who originally installed them are based in Madrid and tend to deal on a large scale with developers only. Trying to purchase this little control box is proving to be a nightmare. The company are not interested because it is too small an item to be bothered with. All we can do is hope that our air con company will come across one when they update systems, but try explaining that to the owner who wants it fixed yesterday! I also had to learn Spanish because on new builds if you have to deal with the local maintenance men you will be lucky to come across anyone who speaks English and sign language will only get you so far!
Property management is not always as easy as I think it is perceived, or should I rephrase and say GOOD property management. When the phone rings at 1.00am because the owner has forgot the time difference and needs to chat, or it rings at 11.30pm because there is water leaking from the apartment above, or it rings at 03.00am because the guests can’t sleep as there is music blasting from the apartment in the next block – you wonder why you didn’t get a 9-5 office job.