Of course, I fell ill right before we left – but with gastritis not an asthma related chest infection. God, was I ill – I couldn’t eat anything without suffering severe stomach pain and other symptoms which involved me living on Imodium just to get out the door. So our ‘holiday’ didn’t exactly start with happiness, hopes and relaxation.
Before we left the UK, we’d arranged to spend a couple of days just looking at what type of property was available – seeing what was actually there ‘on the ground’ so to speak is far better than just looking at properties on line and it’s important to take the time to do this. In addition, the estate agents, who all work together, had already discounted those which were illegal builds. This is a very important factor to take into account and thankfully only one of our prospective properties fell into this category but it’s also worth being aware that they still exist. Marbella’s local government are currently (Dec 2015) looking at over 16,000 properties that they may declare in the fullness of time as illegal builds. I can’t even begin to imagine what those homeowners are feeling.
Also be aware of those agents who will slot in any property for you to see. This happened to us and wasted a few hours. Be clear with what you want and do not work with estate agents who want to pigeon hole you into seeing every property they have on their books. Our recommendation would be Chesterton’s and Ideal Property Spain.
So dosed up on Imodium we began our search and saw some lovely properties but all had one feature or another we didn’t like – too close to a main road (we have cats), outside area too small, too built up, no-one around during the winter months (very important if you are planning to relocate) and the house was lovely but to get to it you had to negotiate ‘The Driveway of Death’, a virtually vertical slope (certainly 1 in 3) which we witnessed first hand how dangerous it was when the owner lost control of his car reversing down it; he went off the end wall and very nearly ended up on the main road! He pulled the front bumper off the car and got it wedged on 2 wheels -he’d only collected the car from having a repair that morning!
That same day we saw the property that was to eventually become our home and as you can see, much sooner than June 2016 as we had originally planned – it had only come onto the market 2 days before. This was outside Alhaurin el Grande and remember that you can get more for your money by going a little inland. Yes there was a slope it get to it but it was a well made road, had CCTV security and a resident ‘presidente’ of the community association. I still remember walking round the house and garden – me with the owner, Charlie with the estate agents – and every time we passed each other, we kept nodding at each other, knowing full well this was the home we wanted. We’d agreed before we left the UK that if we found a house with the ‘wow’ factor we’d go for it in 2015 and not wait. This house had the ‘wow’ factor. Every other house we saw that day paled into insignificance as we knew this was it.
When we got back to our holiday accommodation, we did some sums and made an offer there and then. Admittedly, it was on the low side but be cheeky – from a lower offer you can then see how far the vendors will go to meet you. Unfortunately, what the vendors came back with was more than we could comfortably go to. However, we said to the estate agents that’s exactly the type of house we’re looking for, that’s the template. We thought that was it and returned to the UK still planning to move by June 2016.
But it’s amazing how fate, luck and circumstances can play to your favour and we had no idea what would happen next……..