It was not supposed to happen in this order. We were very clear that our visit to València was to be an opportunity to view homes. We were not going to purchase anything. There was an order to this project, and we needed to keep the order. But this is not our first home purchase, and when you see it, you know.
We had begun the search for property a year prior. As I’ve discussed, we started looking at property in Portugal, moved on to A Coruña, explored Madrid, looked in Barcelona, and finally settled on València. Every evening we would settle down with the computer on the big screen television and explore Idealista. This is an interesting exercise for those familiar with real estate in the United States. In the US we usually work with a system called the Multiple Listing Service. This is a database of property listed by many different realtors who typically are working exclusively as the representative of a seller. In Spain, attempts are made by Idealista and others like it to function like an MLS, but there is little in the way of quality control. This challenge is compounded by the reality that multiple estate agents may list a single property. There is no licensing of estate agents, or realtors as we would say in the US. If you can find a trusted agent to act as your buyer’s agent, you will pay them, not the seller. For more on this, I recommend Valencia Property blog where Graham Hunt has assembled years of experience in an Essential Reading collection.
We started out on our second day in València with our realtor David Tivey of Valencia Property. David had taken information from us about what we were looking for and found three apartments we could see on the first day. It is very difficult to schedule a viewing of a property for sale. There are many reasons for this, the most significant of which is that there is no lockbox system in Spain as we have in the US, so David must arrange with the seller or listing agent to tour a property.
Our first unit was in the Arrancapins barrio. The first was an unusual layout, but in good condition. We discussed moving some of the walls to better use the space. Some of the rooms looked out over a tree-lined street plaza, but the other rooms were all looking into the interior light well. All this was very typical for Spanish apartment building construction. The second unit was in the western end of Ruzafa and unusual in layout as it was two built units combined. The rationalization had occurred in that there was only one kitchen, but it was a bit long and narrow and while one side looked out over Parque Central, that came with a major street. The third was in the middle of Ruzafa, which is a very popular barrio with shops and restaurants and arguably the second-best market in town. The unit had some potential, but we had some concern about the late-night activities. It would be normal to have revelers three floors below us having fun at 03:00. David said he wanted to start with the property for day two, but it was not possible to organize a viewing, so we would see it tomorrow.
We arrived at this fourth property having already examined it carefully online. Graham’s team write fun property descriptions for the properties they put on their website (not necessarily their listings, but vetted by them), and this one was called Pennies from Heaven. They imagined that the owner would enjoy being on the 9th floor (US 10th) and would have so much money saved from purchasing this unit that they could toss pennies from the terraza. The unit was cluttered with old furniture. It was dim in the hallway. The only bathroom was tiny. In approximately 100m2 (~1,000ft2), we had four bedrooms, a modest kitchen, and a small living room. This flat had been flattened with years of loving use by a family of six who had purchased it new in 1977. In other words, it was a typical Spanish apartment.
We loved it.
The view! We could look out the southeast windows and enjoy a remarkable view of the València skyline and the glories of the Jardín del Turia. You could see El Miguelete, El Catedral, Torres de Serrano, and many other noteworthy buildings. The Puente San José was steps away, inviting you to wander across and enjoy the old historic center.
The terraza was of some size. It required some imagination to appreciate what was there. Señora Giron had enclosed it many years ago, and it was cluttered with the detritus of a life well lived. It was, however, large enough to hold a table and chairs to enjoy a morning cup of coffee, perhaps during a visit from friends.
The light potential was excellent. All the windows were exterior to the building. This is unusual in Spain. More typical is several exterior windows and then several rooms that look upon the interior light well. All the windows in this unit were exterior. Not only that, but the windows ran along the north side of the building, around the east side, and one facing southeast. This is critical for the happily unrelenting sunshine of València. We would be less baked by the afternoon sun.
It was exactly what we had hoped to find. Besides the positive and immovable benefits above, it was well priced at the bottom of what we expected to pay (recall a year of Idealista stalking), and it needed a full refit, or as we say in the States, a studs-out remodel.
This was out of order. Our finances were organized for 1: retire, 2: obtain visa, 3: relocate, 4: purchase property. In addition to re-organizing funds, we would need to take the risk (we considered minimal) that we would not obtain the visado no-lucrativo, or Non-Lucrative Visa (NLV). That understood, we took the plunge.
We decided to buy.
Next… Purchasing Property in València