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How to ..... ?

This blog is intended to be helpful to English-speaking foreign residents in Spain by explaining "How to ... " do certain things. "The Crazy Guy" has lived in Spain full time since 2008. A fluent Spanish-speaker he reckons he knows his way round the bureaucracy, the indifference and sometimes downright rudeness of "funcionarios".

HOW TO ….. BUY A HOUSE in Spain?
Thursday, May 26, 2022

Most prospective purchasers go through estate agents, either online or directly in their offices. But there are other ways. The Crazy Guy has bought several properties in Spain over the last two decades. Here, he offers advice based on his experience.


I’ve bought five houses in Spain over the last twenty years and have sold three. As a result, I’ve gathered some know-how and learned from my mistakes. There are various ways to buy a house. Here are my ideas.


Estate agents (agencias inmobiliarias)

Buying via an estate agent is the normal way to purchase property, but it’s the most expensive for the vendor, who must pay a hefty commission (typically 5% or more) and possibly for the purchaser also, as vendors are less inclined to bargain. Some estate agents try to claim a finder’s fee from the buyers. I would always refuse point blank. The estate agent is working for the vendor not the buyer.

We bought our first property in Spain, in Ronda (Málaga), in 2001, via an estate agent, Unicasa (now gone bust).

Normally ultra-cautious at home in the UK, we agreed a deal to buy Piso Blanco within 30 minutes of viewing it (in our defence we had viewed umpteen properties in the preceding 12 months and knew straightaway that this small apartment in a comunidad with swimming pool in the up-and-coming Barrio San Francisco was perfect for our needs – a bolthole from our busy lives in England and also a potential holiday rental).

We did everything wrong. We didn’t get a survey, we used the estate agent’s recommended lawyer and opened an account at their recommended bank, Unicaja. All the advice said, don’t do any of those things. We did, however, and it was no problem - the lawyer was fine and we had an account with Unicaja for 20 years (until they got too big for their boots and started to mistreat their clients and I closed the account).

We got great value from Piso Blanco. Two or three family visits a year plus good lettings when we weren’t using it.

When I sold it after 18 years, I even made a small profit. No estate agents were involved – it was a private word-of-mouth deal.

We bought our second property two years later. I found the house myself and spoke to the vendor direct, but he insisted on using an estate agent– I don’t know why, because it will have cost him more, but it was his choice. That estate agency, Interrealty, also went bust.

This time we were a bit more streetwise. We found our own legal representative, a procurador, similar to a conveyancing solicitor. He was much cheaper and more diligent than many a lawyer.

We didn’t bother with a survey, as we could see with our own eyes that the place was falling down. I exaggerate slightly, but Casa Blanca needed a lot of work, which I mostly did myself over the next couple of years with help from friends and family. Take a bow Alan, Tom and Johnny, Amy and Jeryl.

I sold Casa Blanca after five years and made a decent profit. I used an estate agent, A & B Inmobiliaria in Ronda. The fee included the legal work. B has since retired, but A is now Emme Inmobiliaria.

The third house, bought by my then girlfriend Maud in 2004, was also via an estate agent, the aforementioned A & B Inmobiliaria. El Rincón was small, beautifully formed, but needed a lot of work, which I threw myself into enthusiastically. I was retired by then so had the time.

After my relationship with Maud ended, the house went up for sale. I sold it on Maud’s behalf by word of mouth. No estate agent involved. That was in 2010. We went to the notary on the same day that Frank Lampard’s spectacular goal for England against Germany in the World Cup in South Africa was inexplicably disallowed. (No VAR back then).

House number four is our current home. We spotted it on the website of Olvera Properties. We fell in love with Villa Indiana at first sight and soon agreed a deal with the English owners who were moving back to the UK. The estate agent, Thom, was excellent, very attentive to us as purchasers also. We chose not to use a lawyer (I felt confident after three previous property purchases that we did not need one. As it turned out, the vendor’s lawyer was also helpful to us for no charge).



There are companies that offer a house-finding service. In this case they are working for you, the prospective purchaser, so it’s right that they should collect a fee from you if they find you somewhere to buy. Their commission is similar to that charged to property vendors.






Literally “runners”, these are local folk who have a portfolio of properties for sale, many of which are unknown to estate agents. The Spanish are very suspicious of estate agents (their reputation is on a par with lawyers, second-hand car salesmen and timeshare sellers) so local folk will not work with them. They are happy to work with corredores, however, and to pay them between two and three per cent of the sale price. The corredor will expect a similar amount from the buyers.

Despite this charge to the buyer, it usually works out cheaper through this system, as the vendor is more likely to lower his sale price because he is not using an expensive estate agent.

When we were looking for our first property back in 2000/2001, we were shown umpteen houses by corredores in Ronda, Arriate, Benaojan and Montejaque. Fascinating!

How do you find a corredor?

Simply go into the busiest bar in the town or village you have chosen and ask if there are any houses for sale. By the time you’re halfway down your first caña, there will be a local guy standing beside you, jangling keys from his belt and offering to show you a range of properties.

This system works on trust and a handshake.

I know several professional people who worked as corredores in their younger days, including my bank manager, Carlos, and two guiri hoteliers, Iain and Andy. The latter, recently retired from the hospitality industry, is still active, I believe. Another friend of mine, Pablo, does it too. He’s long retired and sees this as a way of topping up his pension.


Private sales

You see quite a lot of handwritten se vende signs on properties, with a phone number. If you speak Spanish or have a friend that does, give the number a call.

That’s how I found my fifth house.

I’d just viewed a house in Montejaque (Málaga) that I’d discovered by word-of-mouth when I spotted a sign on the house next door. “That’s Armando’s house,” said my companion.

“You mean Armando, mi amigo, del bar?”

I went straight to the bar, spoke to Armando who was about to close for the siesta, and he agreed to show me the house there and then. It was his family home, his parents were long deceased and the house was now owned by him and his three siblings who all live in the village.

Long story short, I bought the house, which I named Casa Real in their honour (their surname is Real).

A private sale, no lawyers involved, just the notary to legalise everything.

That’s the way to do it.



This tends to happen by chance, although you can try to engineer a word-of-mouth situation by asking in a bar or at the tourist office. Or by talking to other foreigners already living in the town or village. Nowadays you can also use social media, eg Facebook or Twitter.

I remember back in 2001, when we were on a 'recce', my then wife, Jeryl, and I asked the landlord, Juan, in the now defunct Bar Alemán in Montejaque, if he knew of any houses for sale.

“Yes my mother’s.”

“Can we view it?”

“Sí. Next week?”

“No it has to be today. We fly home to England tomorrow.”

“Oh, that’s a bit tricky.”


“She doesn’t know yet that her house is for sale! I have to ask her if it’s OK”

Well, we got to see the house and liked it but took no decision at that point. However, when we returned a couple of months later, the house had been sold to a retired British couple, Philip and Sandra, who were later to become good friends of ours.

So, the clear message is: Strike while the iron’s hot!

No matter, later in the year we found Piso Blanco in Ronda, as referenced above.


So, dear reader, these are my recommendations. Most transactions still occur via estate agents, but the other methods are also worth considering.

Happy househunting!


Further reading:

My God, what have we done?

The Story of El Rincón

How We Found Our Dream Home

A Building Project Nears Completion

The Crazy Guy gets his house finished just in time

The Houses That Jack Built

Was It Something I said?

Cheque (sic) Your Spanish Bank Account

Like 3        Published at 5:08 PM   Comments (5)

HOW TO ..... RE-APPLY FOR ALL YOUR CARDS, when you lose your wallet or have it stolen.
Wednesday, May 25, 2022

This is one of the nightmares of modern life. Your wallet is gone, you may have lost a significant sum of money, but the worst is having to block your bank and credit cards, order new ones and replace all those other important documents, like your ID card, driving licence, health card(s), railcard, store cards, etc.

The Crazy Guy has lost his wallet or had it stolen three times in Spain in the last dozen years, the last time this very week. During the same period his wife has been pickpocketed on two occasions. Here’s their story.


Wallet gone - five times

The first time my wallet went missing I had apparently dropped it one Sunday morning 12 years ago in the pouring rain in or outside Libreria Dumas, the newsagents in Ronda (Málaga).

I returned to the shop immediately. There was no sign of it in or out. Bugger!

I drove straight to the comisaría de policía nacional. When I announced to the duty sergeant that I’d lost my wallet he asked my name and immediately informed me it had been handed to a beat bobby 10 minutes previously and he was on his way back to the station with it.

Five minutes later I had my wallet again, fully intact with cash present. A passerby had found it on the street outside the newsagents and handed it in straightaway. I was impressed with the honesty.

I had been lucky.



My wife’s first loss was in the La Cañada shopping centre in Marbella. We informed the security guards at the centre, reported the theft to the police online and my wife cancelled her bank cards.

Amazingly, a week later, we got a call – the wallet had been found in a bin – minus the cash of course. But at least she didn´t have to reapply for new documents.

She had been to some extent lucky.

Four years later it happened again, this time on the pedestrian shopping street, Calle La Bola, in Ronda. We went to the policía nacional to do the denuncia. While we were doing so my wife’s purse was brought in, minus the cash of course. It too had been found in a rubbish bin.

Lucky once again that she didn’t have to reapply for her cards and documents.




In 2020 my wallet was stolen in a bar in Montejaque (Málaga). The villagers were so outraged that they started their own private investigation and found the culprit, an 18 year old druggie. His father handed my wallet in to the local hotel. No cash left, of course.

I contacted the mother of the culprit and made it clear that if I did not get the cash back within two days I would do a denuncia to the guardia civil. I got the cash.

I had been fortunate that the village had rallied round and helped to solve the crime.

This week, however, my luck appears to have run out. My wallet went missing after a family party in Germany on Sunday. I spent Monday retracing my steps, but no sign of my wallet.

After a dozen phone calls that night and yesterday I’d cancelled everything and ordered new, with a couple of exceptions.


How to do it?

First priority was to check my bank accounts online. Phew! No suspicious activity. But I cancelled all my cards anyway and ordered new ones.

With my UK bank I was able to do that in a few seconds online. In theory that should have been possible with my two Spanish banks, but their apps decided not to play ball, so I rang their 24 hour emergency lines and dealt with it quite quickly.

Point to note: Don’t ring customer service. With CaixaBank I waited 25 minutes unanswered until I gave up and rang the 24 hour line. I was answered immediately. With BancSabadell it was just as quick.

With luck, my new cards will be waiting for me in my buzón when we get back.


A replacement driving licence is trickier. You have to pay the tasa of 20.81€ first. Tricky, nay impossible, when you are abroad. You can apparently pay online, but with no bank card ….. how?

My senior citizen’s card was tricky too; the website function was down and the free telephone number does not work from outside Spain. Oh, well, that’s not so urgent.

To order a replacement EHIC (tarjeta sanitaria europea) proved troublesome also. After 22 minutes waiting in a telephone queue listening to atrocious muzak, I eventually got to speak to somebody. We’ll see how quickly they manage to sort that out.

For my tarjeta sanitaria (Spanish Health Card) I rang my local health centre and ordered a replacement in seconds over the phone.

For my private health care card, it was similar. I rang them, they answered straightaway and my card is already in the post.

My replacement press card was dealt with quickly via email and I discovered that Amigos de Paradores no longer issue plastic cards. It’s all done online. At least my accumulated 288 points are intact.

That just leaves my store cards and loyalty cards. I’ll sort those out when I next visit Bauhaus, IKEA, Leroy Merlin, MAKRO, Springfield and the AVIA petrol station.


Final word of advice:


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