At Blue Key we help foreigners buy an apartment in Valencia. By providing our followers with correct information about Valencia we help them make a correct investment decision.
This article is the first episode of a serie of 4 articles about how to buy an apartment in Valencia. In this article we focus on the “property search” part, the first piece of the puzzle. The other 3 articles in this serie talk about “legal assistance during the buying process“, “how to make money with your property“, and “how to manage your property“. Stay tuned!
How to buy an apartment in Valencia: how does it work?
Before you buy an apartment in Valencia you need to know how the real estate market works. The Valencian real estate scene operates in a remarkable way, and is completely different from what most foreign buyers are used to. To describe it gently: The real estate scene in Valencia equals chaos and is full of cowboys you should stay far away from.
This is what you need to know:
Anyone can (claim to) be a real estate agent. Real estate agent is not a licensed or regulated profession. Anyone can call himself a real estate agent. Many people out there do not even have an “autonomo” status which means that they can not even legally issue an invoice for their commissions. It is not easy to identify the cowboys from the professionals, and basically these are the players:
- Internationally reputated franchises such as Engels & Volkers or Lucas Fox. Many foreigners looking for a (more expensive) property in Valencia reach out to these companies because they trust the brand. Indeed, the customer service is not bad (if you have the right profile as a buyer), and you can expect a service in English. The downside is that the commissions are too high, and the properties are not always as exclusive as they make you believe.
- Larger local real estate franchises, such as Grupo90, RedPiso, etc. These are franchise real estates with often very young agents that work commission-base only. You can recognize them from their green or red ties and their arrogancy. They walk around as if they own the city. The fact that these very young people only make money when they sell a property makes them a dangerous party. These youngsters would do everything to sell you a property, no matter what, so you better double check every word they tell you. The positive side about working with these franchises is the fact that they usually have a large offer of properties to show you, and that they literally work day and night for you, if they consider you a hot lead.
- Smaller independant inmobiliarias. These are the smaller real estate companies, usually with a ground floor office. These people tend to give a better customer service and usually know their profession, but do not expect them to speak another language but Spanish. Often these people work very locally (buying + renting) and have a personal relationship with the owners of the properties. This sometimes gives them an advantage because they know what properties in their street will come on the market before anybody else does.
- Project managers. Project managers are legitimate real estate professionals, often expats, that work in the reverse way: Instead of taking the offer as a starting point these project manager work in a more gentle way and take the demand as starting point. This means that they focus on the buyers and that they try to find a matching apartment. This business model is the most efficient for foreign buyers because the project managers will search the market according to the specs of the buyer. They usually have agreements with traditional inmobiliarias (they split the commission) which gives them a wide scope to operate in. They scroll through the idealista website for you, make contact with the sellers, whether that is another professional or an individual, and negotiate in your name.
All the players (estate agents) are chasing exclusivity but rarely get it. It is not common in Valencia that a seller gives the exclusive selling rights to 1 real estate agency. The larger players sometimes get away with it (their people are trained to brainwash sellers with false promises), but most properties for sale end up all over the internet published by several real estate agents. Expect to find the same property listed on differente platforms at different prices. Very confusing indeed.
To counter this lack of protection real estate agents will often make you sign a piece of paper when they show you a property. This piece of paper obliges you to buy the property with the agent that organized the visit, in case you end up buying the property. This is common practice especially with the franchises and should not scare you as a buyer.
Most, if not all, real estate agents publish properties on their own website and on the 2 mayor platforms: idealista.com and fotocasa.es. Most people publishing on these websites are real estate professionals, even though they often pretend to be individuals. Individuals publishing their property on these websites can expect 20-30 phonecalls within 24 hours from real estate agents trying to lure them into an exclusivity deal. All of them will claim that they have a large portfolio of international clients specifically looking for the apartment you just published. But if you continue the conversation in English they will quickly hang up on you.
Expect to pay high commissions. As a buyer expect to pay 3-5% commission. Indeed, as a buyer…. unlike most areas in Spain (and in the rest of the world) real estate agents in Valencia charge commissions to both buyer and seller. The sad part is that sometimes they “forget” to mention this until the very last minute. More than once buyers have been unpleasantly surprised with a last minute 3% expense that they did not see coming.
On the other hand, the 3-5% is often negotiable, and if you work with a project manager it should be his job to negotiate this for you. But keep in mind that the project manager gets a cut of this, so don’t expect any miracles.
The search for the right property
In this chapter we talk about the upcoming areas in Valencia, the areas to avoid, and the new developments.
Upcoming areas in Valencia
In the past we have already published many articles about upcoming and interesting areas in Valencia. Of course everybody wants to know where the next Ruzafa will be. Only 20 years ago Ruzafa was not a nice area where nobody wanted to live. Not because it was unsafe, but because it was neglected. Because of the location, the nice authentic buildings and the infrastructure works that finally came, Ruzafa all of the sudden, became popular and prices went up quickly. People who invested in property in Ruzafa in the late nineties do not regret their investment.
So what neighbourhood is the next Ruzafa? Many people suggested that Cabañal could be it, and in fact this maritime neighbourhood saw a fair share of foreign investors. But the value of Cabañal is not growing as fast as some expected, and impatient investors are starting to look at other areas such as Nazareth, Patraix, Ayora and especially Monteolivete.
In 2019 we published a serie “Unknown but interesting areas in Valencia” on the Blue Key blog. In 10 episodes property specialist Brecht Van de Velde discussed unfamiliar neighbourhoods in search of “the next Ruzafa”. He talked about Benimaclet, Nazaret, Malilla, La Zaidia, Ayora, Benicalap, Patraix, Monteolivete, Campanar, and Nou Moles.
To get to know more about the different areas in Valencia we refer to our Globexs blog. You can consult the articles “Where to live in Valencia” and “Where to live in Valencia as an expat” to discover the most popular areas, especially from an foreigner point of view.
When asked for our personal opinion at Blue Key we often talk about the Monteolivete area. It is not the most pretty barrio in Valencia but it is located just south of Ruzafa, next to the Riu Turia, and relatively close to the beaches. And the prices are very reasonable. But we also like to mention Malilla. This was traditionally a “far away”-barrio, a bit cut off from the rest of the city because of the train tracks, but the new Parque Central has given this area a direct access to the city center and to Ruzafa.
In the last 5 years we have never recommended anyone to invest in Ruzafa or El Carmen, because we believe that the value of the properties are overrated. But you never know how Corona will paint the future, and perhaps new opportunities will emerge again in these areas. Who knows?
Areas to avoid
Luckily Valencia has no real bad areas, unlike Barcelona or Madrid. Barcelona has El Raval or Barceloneta, where crime and drugs is very present, but that is not the case in Valencia. Compared to other large cities Valencia is very safe, and no particular area is really to avoid. Cabañal still has a few dodgy streets with complicated neighbours (near the extension of Blasco Ibañez, and the Bloques Portuarios), and I guess I should mention the neighbourhood La Coma, but that is located in Paterna, not in Valencia city.
If you are considering buying an apartment in Valencia you should not worry too much about the area in terms of safety. On the other hand, what you should be worried about are “okupas” (squatters). Some areas are more sensible to this problem than others. Before you buy a property you should have your lawyer investigate the neighbours. By all means avoid buying an apartment in a building where there are already okupas.
All over Valencia new developments are popping up. On one hand, some projects that started many years ago but were paralized by the crisis in 2010 got a restart in 2018-2019 and are now entering the market. And on the other hand we must mention the new urban developments and city-expansion projects, such as Turianova, behind the La Fé Hospital.
Most new residential towers are popping up south of Monteolivete (Quatro Carreres), Nazareth and in Malilla in the Southern outskirts of Valencia, and in Torrefiel / Benicalap in the northern part of Valencia. The most iconic new development is the Ikon tower, In front of the Melia hotel, close to the new Mestalla football stadium. Kronos is currently constructing a 114m high residential tower designed by the famous architect Ricardo Bofill. Prices of the apartments range from 180.000€ to 2 million. But do you really want to live there, so far away from the city center?
These new towers look very beautiful and come with a swimming pool, padel court, fitness, etc, but they seem less attractive to foreign investors (even though a fair percentage of the buyers of these new apartments are foreigners). The reason is that foreign buyers are usually looking for something more than bricks. They fell in love with the city of Valencia, with the lifestyle, the terraces, the narrow streets, the social life. And these new developments are offering exactly the opposite. They are in the outskirts of the city, with high fences, in empty areas with little or no streetlife or social interaction between the neighbours.
It seems that most promoters of these new developments are indeed focusing on the local buyers considering the poor quality of their commercial service in any other language than Spanish. Perhaps they should change their commercial strategy and try to reach the foreign buyers, also because of the fact that the prices of these new apartments are very high.
Blue Key helps with independant advice
So how can Blue Key help you find the property of your dreams? First of all we must clarify that Blue Key is not a real estate agency. We have no listings and charge no commissions on the property that you buy. In fact the “property search”-service that we offer is a completely free service.
We offer independant advice, free of charge, to potential buyers. Why is this service for free? Very simple: We make money with the other 3 services: legal advice, property management and rentals. The “property search”-service is a free commercial service that will convince you of our expertise and market knowledge.
At Blue Key we have the right contacts. We can bring you in touch with reliable real estate partners, but we operate completely independant from any real estate agency. Our mission is to give you independant advice and explain to you how to buy an apartment in Valencia.
We explain the process and we guide you in your search.
At Blue Key we are glad to give you an estimation of the rental income before you buy a property. The core-activity of Globexs is mid-term expat rentals. Many of our customers send us the links to the apartments they are interested in and we try to give them an idea of a realistic rental income and occupancy rate, if they would rent the property to expats with Globexs. Of course, the current corona crisis has put things upside down, but we are very pleased to share our rental expertise with you.
How about Covid?
Potential investors who want to buy an apartment in Valencia are asking us how Covid is affecting the prices. I wish I could give a straight answer but unfortunately I can’t. At this moment (September 2020) it is still unclear what the impact of the pandemia will be on the housing prices. Nobody knows what the situation will be in 2021. Will prices drop significantly in the near future? Honestly I don’t think so.
Why foreign investors prefer Valencia over Madrid or Barcelona
At Globexs / Blue Key we have written several articles already comparing Valencia to Madrid or Barcelona. Personally I am still convinced that Valencia is the best place to invest in Spain, because it is simply the best place to live in Spain. Of course that is a very personal opinion, and we totally respect people who disagree with this. We are also very fond of the north of Spain, and we love Gijon and Bilbao. They are great cities with lovely people but the weather is not great. Valencia seems to have it all: Metropolitan city, low crime, beaches, fabulous climate, large expat community, reasonable property prices, etc…
In this Blue Key blog you can read the article “Why foreign investors prefer Valencia over Madrid or Barcelona“, in which Clive Welland talks about the property prices, the local government and main attractions in Valencia. One of the most popular Globexs blogposts is “Why is it better to live in Valencia than in Madrid or Barcelona“. This article was first published in 2017 and updated in 2020.
Useful information regarding Valencia
Every day we receive questions from foreigners who want to move to Valencia or buy an apartment in Valencia. We are committed to helping anyone with an interest in Valencia. We have created a webpage with useful information for expats and digital nomads in Valencia.
The full circle
At Blue Key we help foreigers buy an apartment in Valencia. We close the circle for foreign investors with a customized service from A to Z.
1. Property search: We explain to our customers how to buy an apartment in Valencia. We explain the process and the steps to follow. We guide you in your search and tell you which areas to prefer or avoid, and we give you an idea of potential rental income.
2. Legal assistance: Our lawyers guarantee a minimum risk investment. You need an independant lawyer when you buy an apartment in Valencia. At Globexs / Blue Key we are independant from all real estate agencies and therefor we are in the best position to cover your back and minimaze the risks.
3. Return on Investment: Gobexs’ core-business are mid-term expat rentals. Once you have bought an apartment in Valencia we can offer it to potential tenants and give you a decent return on investment.
4. Property management: We maintain your apartment in Valencia in perfect conditions, even if you do not use our rental services. Our sister company Nestor is a property management company that handles cleaning, maintenance works and decoration of apartments in Valencia.
Get in touch
It is easy to get in touch with us: Send us an email to email@example.com, or simply pass by our office in Ruzafa (Calle Pintor Salvador Abril 35, Valencia).