It seems that everyone who bought off plan in the Costa del Sol two years ago has decided to sell. Unfortunately, due to the stiff competition, people aren’t making the huge financial gains that they had anticipated and in some cases had been persuaded to buy on this premise. Agents are even turning away off plan resales because they know that the challenge is impossible.
It is true that some people are still unrealistic and have placed ridiculous price tags on such properties. In the current climate you cannot be greedy, the truth is there are too many sellers prepared to break even or even cut their losses. It certainly is a buyers market and they can be very picky. If you don’t want to rent it out short term or long term and you just want to get rid of it, you will need to be flexible and put in a bit of effort. It sounds harsh but so is the situation.
So, what can you do?
Firstly, if you are serious about selling put a reasonable price tag on it. Take a long hard look at it, compare it with other properties on the market and be true to yourself about its worth. For example, an apartment with a terrace cannot command the same value as a similar sized detached house with a garden. Remember, your property is only worth what somebody is prepared to pay for it.
Apart from trying to get estate agents in Spain to sell it, trying selling it privately.
Research sites that allow you to list your property for sale. Some will charge you; some are free, depending on their exposure. For example, Eye on Spain have a private listing service at www.eyeonspain.com/Sell-off-plan-property-spain.aspx
Post on related expat forums. Some do not allow commercial postings, whereas some are more lenient, but many have specific sections where you can list your property for sale.
An obvious one is to let everyone that passes by know that it is for sale. The agent must put a big, bold sign up with clear contact details. If you are selling privately make a sign and put it somewhere visible yourself.
Tell everybody that you are selling, friends, family, neighbours and work colleagues. Be careful not to bore people though!
If you live in the UK, make an attractive flyer and pin it up on the notice board at work or in the local corner shop window. Make sure you include an enticing description and put clear photos on it. Experiment with the camera angles to captivate the “theme” of the property. Good photos really do help to sell a property.
Advertise privately in “El Sur” (www.surinenglish.com) and other publications.
In your advertisements, always include the price, as a missing price suggests the property is too expensive.
Consider your probable buyers. Will they have school-age children? If so, include proximity to schools. Describe features of the property which appeal to your probable buyers rather than the entire public.
You might want to consider auctioning the property, such as at www.direct-auctions.com.
Think creatively, I have even heard of people raffling apartments as they do cars in UK airports! So in the current climate, you have to think a bit out of the box.
If you have completed, do not leave it lying empty. This says unloved and bought for financial gains to a buyer. It holds no appeal and does not inspire buyers particularly those that lack imagination, many do.
Furnish it but with taste and your target market in mind. It needs to impress. You need to create a lifestyle that potential buyers can aspire too.
If you are living there, clean, clean, clean. This is particularly important if you are also targeting the Spanish market. If you have ever visited an average Spanish home you will know that they are scrupulously clean and big on hygiene. The floor must sparkle!
Remember, most potential buyers have made up their mind as soon as they enter the front door, so create what home stager Guru Ann Maurice calls “kerb appeal”. Oh and please if you have moved in with your pets, hide away the smelly dogs, sooo off-putting. Again, if you are opening up your target market to the Spanish, this is imperative as they generally do not appreciate the British tendency to allow their dogs free run of the house and are appalled at the thought of sharing their bed or sofa with an animal.
Have a look at show homes, look at interior magazines, and talk to friends or family members with an interest in the subject. Don’t be proud; ask their advice and their honest opinion. They might be able to open your eyes to flaws in your own interior design skills.
I stress the interior, it is so important at the moment as you have to create that “vibe” that makes you stand out from the rest. I know of a particular developement on the Costa del Sol where a couple of months ago, over one hundred people were trying to sell. Mission impossible maybe but not uncommon. It is for this reason that if you really want to sell, you have to stand out from the crowd and create that “wow” factor that they go on about on all those interior design programmes that everyone has been watching over the past five years.
So, you may have to invest a bit to shift it and perhaps sell it furnished, which can be very attractive to buyers as we all know furnishing a holiday home abroad can be such a hassle. If you take this hassle out of the “experience”, you have already gained some points on the saleability scale.
Everyone is holding tight through this frustrating phase and investors have been thrown by the unexpected slump. However, when I talk to agents, they tell me that properties are selling if they are reasonably priced and meet the buyer’s entire criteria.
At this point, I should also mention that investors are under pressure to sell before completion to avoid being penalised by the CGT (Capital Gains Tax) rules. As you are probably aware, non residents are taxed at a flat rate of 35 per cent. Whereas residents are taxed at just 15 per cent providing they have been an owner for a year. The EU has ordered Spain to level the rate of tax irrespective of the residency status of owners. To ensure this, the EU is now taking Spain to the European Court of Justice. If you are planning to sell your off plan, you might want to hold out for a bit longer and hope for a result in your favour.