Last time the property prices were going up, in the pre-2007 era, the market looked completely different. Buyers were still going to the estate agencies, sitting and waiting for agents to be able to get additional information, looking at their shop windows, checking the ads in newspapers. Thanks to the Internet, things have changed completely. While you can still look at the shop windows, it is pretty much pointless. As much it is pointless to describe to an eager agent what are you really looking for and what is your budget. Today, you can easily select all those options with a click of a button on any of many big property sites and guaranteed, they will never include in your results the properties that cost more than you can spend (normal for estate agents).
Those property sites are so advanced and so popular that many agencies don’t even bother to update listings on their own sites. Updating the inventory on the big Property site is done very simply and efficiently so maintaining your own site, due to its complexity is becoming a thing of the past. This is the reason why you can rely on those big property search sites more than anything else – if there is a property that is listed on the agency’s site, but not on the big property search site they use, most likely it was sold. The agency simply didn’t delete it from their site. So, don’t even bother looking at the individual sites. It will just add to your stress.
There are hundreds of Property sites you can choose from, but don’t waste your time, because, in essence, they are all more or less the same. The biggest and the best sites you will need for your property search are, in this order: Idealista.com, Fotocasa.es, Habitaclia.com, and Yaencontre.com. Basically, Idealista is the biggest, fastest and the best, but you can use others to check if there are any additional pictures of the same property, or (it happens but not very often) if they have other properties, not listed on Idealista.
When checking out the properties on websites, the one thing you must be careful of is that most of the time you will not get a feel for the size of the given property. Apart from the funny way they calculate sizes here, there is another reason. Lately, the majority of the agencies hire professional photographers, who in turn use wide lenses that can turn a 10 square meter room into a railway station hall. Try not to be fooled by this, use your common sense. Also, the description of the property might be deceiving too. Whatever is left out of the description is omitted for a reason. If you are unsure, it is better to discuss this with an agent before you even go to see the property. Let’s say there is a flat in the building on the 3rd floor, and nowhere in the text, it is mentioned that the building has an elevator. Well, in that case, an elevator probably won’t be there. Whatever is beneficial to the property will be mentioned, but whatever is not, sometimes, might be left out. This is one of the main reasons why you might need to use more than one site. There is a chance that the same property, listed on another site, will have the required information, simply because it had to be filled for an ad to appear. Also, don’t get alarmed if you see the same property more than once (sometimes up to 10 times) on the same website, with different sizes and even with different prices. Lots of times the same property is given to as many agencies as possible (this is still the crisis practice which is slowly disappearing), so it will have multiple listings. The only good thing about this practice is that the agents will sometimes take their own pictures, and they could differ from each other so you might get more information, and if you are lucky, non-distorted photographs of the given property.
What makes Idealista the best search engine is the speed of their site, combined with the size of the photographs, different search parameters, alerts you can set up as well as many articles on properties in Spanish. For property investors and analysts, the most useful feature will be the database of registered property prices that in some cases goes back to 2001.This is a very handy tool, regardless if you want to buy the property or simply to rent the one you already have.
For the last couple of years, Idealista was always the first to implement certain new features on their site, and the others would follow. At the moment, a very interesting feature is the 3d tour that is available for some properties, and also “dolls house” view. In “Informe de precios” section of the site you can find price histories in Excel format, and in Labs/Archive section you can get to the real, construido sizes of any property in Spain as long as you got the proper address and the number of the flat. Idealista owns another important site: Rentalia.com. It is an excellent site for tourist rentals, widely used in Spain. If you are looking for an investment only, it can give you a pretty good idea of how much can you make on tourist rentals.
If there is a chance that there will be a property not listed on Idealista but listed on another site, you will probably find it on Fotocasa. It can happen that a small agency with property nobody else has, decides to advertise exclusively on Fotocasa. This site is a bit limited compared to Idealista and sometimes can mix barrios – for whatever reason it sees Seu, which is a part of Ciutat Vella going all the way to Benicalap, and Sant Francesc, also part of the old town, extending to Patraix. Otherwise, there are some interesting features like distances from the major points, transport maps and so on. If the property has an exact address, it will show correctly on the map. But if it hasn’t, the software will give you approximate position, which you cannot rely on, so this feature becomes useless. Fotocasa publishes its own price histories, but they are far less descriptive than ones on Idealista. Sometimes, you can read nice articles on property related themes on their site, get decorating ideas, but this is as far as it gets.
For additional information, you can look at this site too. You might get an odd listing here that is not shown on the other sites. The nice feature on Habitaclia is that you can look at different barrios of Valencia all at the same time. You just have to choose the barrios you prefer from the list on the left side of the screen. It can be only one specific area of Ciutat Vella and one of Eixample, and you can get the results. Their system of alerts (alertas) for new properties that appear daily on the Internet is very good, although, they will recycle those some “new” properties many times and flood your Inbox with repeats. But if you are serious, this is a useful feature.
This site is interesting mostly because they insist more than others on listing the correct addresses. Surprisingly, this information might appear only here and nowhere else on the Internet. This can help you use Google Maps or Maps to find the building, see how it looks and check the area too. Indexing unfortunately does not work well and many times it can mix the properties from different barrios. Not good when you are looking for something in Ciutat Vella and suddenly, there is a bargain listed in this barrio that is actually miles away.
If this is not enough, you can try many other sites, like Pisos.com, Kyero.com, Trovit.es, Milanuncios.com, but they will not be able to offer you any additional information that is not already published on those four above mentioned sites. I had them cross-referenced many times and the only “new” properties I occasionally found were the ones already sold but still kept there.