Real client reviews sharing their experiences with Spain Advisors and buying property and living in Barcelona.
Mia Felton and Richard Felton, CBE
I found Spain Advisors in early 2019 whilst researching for our permanent relocation to Spain. I was looking for a company to provide legal and conveyancing services that met my high expectations, and someone who communicated in English fluently. I recognized that my Spanish would be severely tested by Spanish legal terms. Therefore it was imperative that our advisor could fully explain the nuances and procedures to us in English. I contacted a total of 4 different legal firms in Barcelona, all of whom came highly recommended, and spoke individually with each one.
What stood out about Mark Carr and Spain Advisors was his legal experience in the Barcelona area, and his patient manner in explaining what purchasing a property would involve. Obviously, being American, his command of English was perfect, and it was also evident that his understanding of the Spanish legal system was outstanding.
What also marked him as being a cut above the rest was his obvious level of care and commitment to providing a top level of service. His responses by email were always prompt and clear, and his telephone manner was professional and reassuring. I never felt like I was asking him too many questions, (even though I probably did!), and his generosity of time set him apart from any other lawyer I had spoken to.
What further helped was the extensive range of additional services his company offered, such as assistance with NIEs, Money Transfers, Banking, Wills, assistance with locating properties, negotiating the purchase price (he achieved a significant reduction for us) and post-purchase tasks such as changing utilities. He really did offer a complete service that went far beyond simple property purchase.
His rates are reasonable, especially considering the level of service he offers, and throughout our purchasing process and beyond he has been an invaluable source of information and advice. And apart from all that he is a thoroughly nice chap!
Our purchase was completed in September 2019, and with remarkably few problems. We are now settling in to our new lives in Spain and cannot thank Mark Carr, Spain Advisors and his team enough.
We would highly recommend him to anyone considering purchasing in the Barcelona region.
How many flats did you see before you bought one? Around 40
How was your experience with the real estate agents? The real estate was also the owner of the flat so things went pretty smoothly.
Did you encounter any problems with the purchase? Not really because I had the support of Spain Advisors.
Do you have advice for someone looking for a flat now? Unless the buyer is local, always ask support of an Advisor who will be always at your side.
How did Spain Advisors help you? For example, did they help you negotiate the price? Spain advisors helped me in the whole purchase process after I chosen and reserved the apartment, I am very happy of the services provided. Mark, who is very responsive, managed all communications between me and agency/owner, he personally checked the apartment to verify its status, checked owner paid all community bills as well as city taxes, helped in the drafting of arras and the final contract at notary, managed to pay all the taxes after the deed has been signed.
Are you happy with the flat you purchased? Yes
Would you recommend Spain Advisors to a friend: definitely
Erin and her husband Carlos bought a house in the rural area of Subirats, about one hour west of Barcelona.
“We looked for about a year. We wanted to move outside the city, but learned the hard way that the buying process is significantly different than in the USA. After a couple of false starts, we found a home that fit our needs and budget. We contacted Mark at Spain Advisors before we decided on a house, then we hired him at the point of starting negotiations.
Perhaps this is an oversimplification, but my experience with real estate agents is that most are clueless. It seems they are trying to make a quick sale, but don't actually provide a good service. We're so pleased to involve Mark right from the very beginning so he could liaise with the seller's agent on our behalf. It saved a ton of headaches.
Our purchase was very complicated because there were several discrepancies in the property documents that needed to be resolved before we could sign the deed. It took a long time, due to bureaucracy mostly, which can't be avoided in Spain, but Mark stayed in contact at all times and made sure the ball kept rolling. He also coordinated with our mortgage lender to make sure everything was ready to go when the time (finally) came to sign the deed. I honestly do not know what we would have done without Mark and his colleague Raul, not only to manage the process but to reassure us and help keep us sane during a very stressful process!
My advice to buyers is get assistance right from the beginning, and be patient. Things take time but they will get done. Navigating the tricky real estate and legal waters in Spain would be nearly impossible without expert advice. It is well worth every single penny. The next time we buy (or sell) we will definitely be hiring Spain Advisors again. Thank you so much for everything. Erin Van de Hay.”
Frédéric and his friend bought a newly-renovated flat in the Barcelona neighborhood of Poble Sec.
“We looked for a flat remotely for about 9 months, to understand the market trends, and visited about 12 flats with local agents. We bought in Poble Sec for its original flair. It’s a multi-cultural barrio close to the Barcelona center, well connected by public transportation, and close to Montjuic, a large park with sporting activities. And it is not too touristy!
Our search advice is to first study the market to understand its trends. While Barcelona may appear to be an easy place to buy a nice flat, you soon realize that it’s vendor-driven. The rare buying opportunities that appeal to foreign investors is difficult to understand. In my country the real estate agent is an intermediate between the seller and the buyer for their common benefit. We feel that Spanish agents are primarily working for the benefit of the seller. So that a buyer should get proper advice.
We did not encounter any major issues during the purchase process. We had the chance to be accompanied by Mark of Spain Advisors from the early stages which proved very useful. Be aware of the time constraints when buying, especially if you need a mortgage.
Mark was instrumental in our purchase. Since we were living abroad, we needed someone local and accustomed to Spanish laws and regulations. He was very pro-active, responsive and easily available. He managed the whole purchase process for us in a smooth way. He has a good understanding of local market practices, which helps in negotiations. Indeed, Mark helped us to obtain a discount on the purchase price. We would recommend Mark of Spain Advisors for anyone buying a flat in Barcelona!”
Mike and Tatyana Petrovich
Mr Carr made purchase of our property a breeze. From seeing the property with us, to getting our NIE and closing the deal. The amount of work he put in each step was well worth the money. Very happy with service and will definitely recommend to others.
Tanya hired Spain Advisors to recover inheritance proceeds in the custody of a law firm located in Philadelphia, USA.
“Advice for people with a legal matter pending in the USA: find a lawyer you trust, who prioritizes your case, and is clear with you from the start. We had some inheritance funds held in the USA. We needed a licensed USA attorney with knowledge of Spanish law to write an opinion letter in order to obtain the funds. After searching, we found no such attorney with the required skill set in the USA, so we looked into international firms, and found Spain Advisors online.
Overall, our experience with Mark and with Spain Advisors was excellent. Mark Carr called me back within 24 hours of our first request (despite it being a Sunday) and resolved the matter as efficiently and helpfully as possible, in very good time. They were entirely professional, responsive, and quick, providing advice beyond what was required and informing us every step of the way, despite the complications we met (not their fault). They worked day, night and weekends to wrap our case up as soon as possible and we were very grateful for this. We would absolutely recommend Spain Advisors to a friend. 10/10.” Tanya Hart.
Linda bought a flat that needed renovations in the Born Neighborhood of the Gothic Quarter in Barcelona.
“Spain Advisors was recommended by a Spain Property Guides, a UK organization, and I am very happy with the results. I went to Barcelona in August of 2018 for some viewings, and Spain Advisors set everything up for me and arranged guided tours of properties. Their legal advice was extremely helpful when dealing with some odd estate agents. As a single woman, I very much appreciated their advice about which areas of Barcelona are considered safe, and which areas should be avoided. Spain Advisors was also extremely helpful in viewing and video recording apartments for me so I could see the apartment without being in Barcelona.
Within 3 months, I had 3 offers fall through: one owner withdrew because he wanted more money (after he had accepted my offer), one estate agent asked for a split payment that would have constituted tax fraud, and one apartment did not have a certificate (cédula) allowing it to be used as a residence. As Spain Advisors pointed out, no insurance would pay in the case of fire or flooding. Invaluable advice! In December 2018, after 4 months of looking, we finally signed a deal in my favorite area, Born. Spain Advisor took care of all the legal documents, plus the NIE registration and transfer of utility contracts. I could not have done it without them! Thank you, Mark.
My wife and I saw about ten flats and met several real estate agents. Their goal, obviously, is to show the property’s positive aspects and persuade you to buy for the listed price. It’s important to remember that they earn a commission of the sale’s price. When we expressed an interest in a flat, they applied some pressure on us to force to a decision. Sometimes after only one visit.
Mark’s service removed a lot of this stress and made things significantly easier. He explained to the agent that we were interested in the flat, but wanted to research the property first, then make a decision. Remember, as the buyer, take your time and conduct due diligence on the property, then decide. I would definitely recommend Spain Advisors to friends who were planning to buy property here. So far everything seems great with the flat.
Noah bought a one bedroom flat in the Barcelona neighborhood of Barceloneta near the beach.
"I’m glad I had my own property advisor in Barcelona. When I met the agent, he said he could represent me and work both sides of the deal. I paid him a 1,000€ to reserve a flat. Later I decided to hire Mark at Spain Advisors. We met with the agent and Mark asked a lot of questions. We found out that the building’s front side (facade) needed repairs. The agent never told me this when I paid 1,000€.
Then we met the property manager who showed us estimates of the repairs costs. Mark used these costs to negotiate the price down and he got the furniture included. So his service paid for itself. He shares office space with a Spanish tax attorney who helped me throughout the deal. They continue to give me post-purchase advice on property taxes and other issues. This is has been convenient and valuable!
My buying experience overall was fine. I looked at flats in the Barcelona neighborhoods of Raval, Gothic, Gracia and Barceloneta for about 8 months. Most of the real estate agents don’t speak much English, so I couldn’t get complete information. And there's no public record of what previous flats sold, so it’s hard to know if a listed price is fair or not.
I bought in Barceloneta, a small village-like area near the beach. Rents are going up in Barcelona, so it’s a good investment. Plus it’s a great place to live, there's a nice sea breeze, you can walk everywhere, etc. With a big transaction in a foreign country, I was glad that Mark was on my team to represent my interests in the purchase.”
Daniel and his spouse bought a flat in Hospitalet, a town just south of Barcelona.
“My experience with Spain Advisors was great and I had no problems at all. I searched for about two months for a flat and saw about 30. I advise you to buy soon as prices are going up and good flats are selling fast. But check all aspects of the property very carefully first, there may be hidden problems without a solution. I am very happy with the property I bought, it was well below my budget and renovations were already done so no headache of buying materials/looking for contractors. The purchase went smooth. I would recommend Spain Advisors to a friend, definitely.
Andrew and his spouse bought a flat in the Barcelona neighborhood of Poble Sec.
“I work in real estate in London and knew it would be best to hire an advisor. It’s a big investment in a foreign country. I received Mark’s name from a friend and saw him that same day. He was very straight about the process and his fees. He got my wife and I Spanish ID numbers, a bank account and took care of everything. What really impressed us is that he came to the flat to meet the previous owners. This was important as later we needed their help transferring the utilities. We feel very fortunate to have found him. It was a good value for the money as it made things very easy for us.
My spouse and I wanted a vacation home in Spain. We visited Barcelona and just fell in love with it. We saw a flat in Poble Sec and decided to buy on the spot. The flat was low-priced with good renovation potential. And Poble Sec offers everything we wanted: easy access to the beach and city center, close to park Montjuic, shady streets, good views and not too much tourism. We spend several weeks a year in Barcelona and really enjoy it, as do our friends.”
Odd and his spouse bought in the Gothic Quarter, Born area.
I began my search in Italy and Portugal, but decided to buy in Barcelona. It’s vibrant and full of life like London, but small enough not to be stressful. After searching online, I decided to visit Barcelona to get to know the city. I saw about 100 flats. Probably too many, but I wanted to explore Barcelona to decide where to live. Each neighborhood is diverse; with its own character and vibe.
I met several real estate agents along the way. I would say 30% were very good; 20% were not reliable at all and the other 40% were OK but had to be watched closely. One word of caution: Always measure the flat’s floor size yourself; agents like to embellish this.
Regarding the purchase, things can happen very quickly. If you find a good deal, you’ll have to move fast or lose it. Have the advisor lined up, make an offer and close the deal. I lost a flat because another buyer got their first. Prices are hard to judge. I compared the price per square meter in the neighborhood and offered the average or lower, unless the flat has a unique feature like spectacular views or abundance of light. And don’t get taken for a ride. Do the homework. Learn the process and what documents the Seller must show you. Don't argue instead be polite, brief and firm. It will be appreciated. Knowing some basic Spanish helps.
I was very pleased with Mark’s services. He gave me frank, tough advice while I searched and explained how I could offset legal costs by doing things myself. Much appreciated. I always felt like I was making informed decisions.
I bought a 112 square meter flat for about 40% less than the price in London. I bought in the Born area. It’s trendy with mostly young people and a lot of innovative ‘designer’ stores. Park Ciutadella and the beach are nearby. They’re renovating several buildings in the area which should increase property values. I believe it’s a good investment.
About the different areas of Barcelona I saw:
Poble Nou. If I bought now I might buy in Poble Nou. It’s more industrial; but it’s spacious with wide streets, plenty of natural light and it’s near the beach. It’s an up-and-coming area with several renovation projects; a good investment.
Poble Sec is a traditional part of Barcelona with a central location and a lot of families. There are some nice pedestrian streets and it’s also being renovated.
Gracia is a very traditional Catalan area with trendy stores, lively streets, and good restaurants; very popular.
Eixample is a general mix of urban city life, more conservative with families.
The Fishers bought in the Barcelona neighborhood of Poble Nou.
“My wife and I found Mark as we began our quest to find a second home in Barcelona. Not only were we very happy with the service he provided on the legal front, but he also gave us invaluable advice as to how to best to look and judge potential properties. He also educated as to potential pitfalls to look out for. When we did find the property to buy, he was invaluable in working with the seller's representatives in all aspects of the closing deal. We encountered unforeseen obstacles when we tried to close the deal, Mark made sure our rights were fully protected and worked with the seller to help them overcome the issue. In the end, he was able to close the deal on our behalf after we returned to the United States. We wholeheartedly trust Mark and recommend him to anyone looking to purchase property in Spain.”
The Saltelli’s bought very close to the city center on calle Balmes with calle Mallorca.
“We relocated from a small town in Italy. We wanted to live in a vibrant city that offers a high quality of life and more opportunities for our sons ages 21 and 23. We wanted a flat on the top floor of a building with natural light, a terrace and near the city centre. After searching for two weeks we found the flat with a real estate agent. Then I searched for legal assistance. I didn’t want to do this myself. It was a large purchase with a lot at stake. I wanted an experienced advisor who spoke fluent English. We were referred to Mark.
One problem arose: When we bought they were making repairs to the facade of the building. These were approved and paid for by the previous owners. However, as work progressed they found more damage that required additional, expensive repairs. The question was, who would pay for these additional repairs? The previous owner or us? I was quite nervous as buildings are expensive to repair.
We had a meeting with the flat owners, building administrator and construction company. We discussed these new repairs and who would be responsible to pay for them. Mark attended the meeting and argued that since these repairs were for damage closely related to the pre-existing damage, the previous owners should pay them. Fortunately, it was agreed they would indeed pay them. A big relief for us.
We’re glad we bought in Barcelona and enjoy living here: the weather, the sea, the wide range of restaurants and street fairs and the airport is easy to access. This is important as we travel frequently.”