REAL ESTATE AGENCIES
During the property boom, opening and running the estate agency was sort of favorite sport for both locals and foreigners. At that time, thousands and thousands of estate agencies were opened, and since the demand was very high it was an easy way to make a living. After the crash, many agencies closed, some went into hibernation, but still, many stayed in the business. It will still take some serious time to get them all busy. Unlike in other countries, where a local agency would handle local sales, in Valencia the last place to look for a property in Ruzafa, for example, would be an agency in that barrio. They might have everything else, but only one or two properties from that area. The rest would be spread all over the city. It is a very strange concept, but obviously, everybody sells what they can get their hands on, and since there are too many agencies, there is no point in looking around the neighborhood for a “local” one. The situation is a bit different in the villages around Valencia where many local sales, but not all, are handled by the local agency
Thanks to the Internet, the need for the estate agencies has been seriously reduced. They can send agents to open apartments or houses for your inspection, prepare paperwork, and advise on some legal matters. Estate agencies in Valencia are taking a commission from both sellers and buyers, their fee is usually 3%+Iva (total, 3,62%) and you will get very little for it. They will always act in the interest of the seller, they are not bound by law to present your offer if they think they can sell for more money, and they can tell you whatever they want, even hide things from you, you can not hold them liable.
That said, Spanish people are normally very open and truthful. So are the agents. You will like most of them, they will be helpful and they will sometimes tell you things you are not supposed to know. Not many of them speak foreign languages. In smaller agencies, it is usually only one person, so when you phone them you might need to wait for your turn. In bigger agencies, the situation is better, and in some companies that deal mostly with foreigners, not bad at all. If you pick a property that is sold by an agency that has mostly 10 or 20 listings, you better be prepared to speak Spanish.
Many of the agencies in Valencia are networked, so they can all, at the same time, sell the same property – there is usually an agreement between them. That is the reason why sometimes even the small ones, with one desk and two chairs, can present hundreds of listings on their website, while in fact, they, themselves, might have only a handful.
If you want to get yourself familiar with the agencies in Valencia, you should look at the websites of the most important ones. Engel and Volkers are one of the biggest agencies in town, and you can also check Hogar Habitat, Molmar, Habitale, Primer Grupo Inmobiliaria, Grupo 90 Inmobiliaria. Foreigners very often try Lucas Fox agency, where English is well spoken.
During the property crisis, banks got hold of numerous properties and started selling them themselves. At the start, most of the big banks formed their own property agencies. As the crisis progressed, they moved repossessed assets to a giant property bank, called Sareb, who in return, used those same agencies to sell the properties. It was obviously some kind of an accounting game.
The biggest ones on the market are Solvia and Haya. Solvia, which belongs to Banco Sabadell has meantime become mainstream estate agency. They will sell not only repossessed properties but ordinary properties as well. Haya is still only selling bank properties, and they are much slower than Solvia. It usually takes at least a week for them to come back to you, once you present your inquiry to their call center. And then, you might find that the property they are advertising is listed at the lowest bidding price, that there is a full month for this price to be raised, and that they will not tell you what is the highest offer. Not an encouraging way to conduct a business. You have to be very careful with bank properties, there are many hidden dangers that you can encounter, it can take forever for your offer to be accepted (forever means forever) and it is not really advisable to buy them.
In essence, you will probably not have a chance to do this anyway. For whatever reason, many bank properties are priced far above the average price for the same property sold by private sellers. I’ve heard rumors that the banks are sitting on those properties for a reason – once they have written them off their books, and got the money from European Bank, it doesn’t cost them much to keep them, waiting for the prices to rise. It is a quite unfair practice, flats were repossessed from the people that lost their jobs, or ability to continue paying their mortgages. Money received from EU to stabilize the banks in the country will have to be eventually repaid by Spain. For this purpose, taxes were raised. So, in the end, those properties will be paid by taxpayers, but the profits will go to the banks. That is why they are not rushing with the sale. Although there is a time frame set by EU in which the properties must be sold, that deadline is still two years away, and there is a good chance that it can be extended. This is the reason why you will not find a bargain within bank properties, and why are so many still sitting on their books.