Properties under the sun

fi / en

Päivi and Riku Koskinen moved to Costa del Sol to sell homes because they were captivated by the area’s sunny and charmed lifestyle.

Year after year, Riku and Päivi Koskinen became increasingly taken by the warmth of Costa del Sol. Even while on holiday, the couple, both real estate agents and part owners of Solid House, always had their feelers out for a potential local real estate business.

“We just knew that Solid House would be a good fit for here. Right from the start, the idea was that Solid House, founded in 2012, would be an international outfit, and last May we finally established Solid House Properties S.L. here. Costa del Sol is a popular area whose appeal does not appear to be fading; on the contrary, new construction is popping up everywhere. Solid House is a familiar name to Finns, which makes it easy for people to reach out to us if they are looking for a home or holiday home in Spain,” explains Päivi.

“This is also a global and safe market. Ups and downs are usually quite rapid and balance out quickly,” adds Riku.

In Finland, Solid House has 10 offices and 80 real estate agents, while in Spain the number of agents will soon total four, and Riku anticipates that rapid growth will increase the need for agents in the autumn. 

Setting up the company in Spain went without a hitch, as the couple were quickly able to find good partners, such as a local solicitor and accountant, through a Finnish consultant friend and long-time resident of the area. 

Sold House

The local system is good for all parties. 

Destination sun coast

Once the company’s paperwork had been taken care of, it was time for Päivi and Riku to move to Spain and start working. 

“In October, we packed as much as we could into the van and hit the road. A major factor in my decision to move was the support and encouragement of my grown children. My son says nowadays when we see each other, the time we spend together is more precious, and my daughter considered the move an opportunity for all of us,” says a pleased Päivi. 

Riku has four children, two of whom are grown, but the move could open up new doors for them, too.

Sold House

“My adult children have been very excited, and they intend to come here on holiday and one day maybe even to work. My eldest son is a real estate agent for Solid House in Turku, Finland, making him the third generation of real estate agents in our family, since my father was also in the business. My youngest son did his work practice programme here and will soon do a second one here as well. If our children decide to move here, the threshold is lower for them, since we have figured out how things work and are settled in now,” reckons Riku.

Video chats help the family stay connected, and if they find cheap flights, the kids might even pop in to see Päivi and Riku for a short visit. When looking for a home in Spain, an important criteria for them was to find enough bedrooms to accommodate the children.

“My daughter even said I would be crazy if I didn’t go. And it’s so great to have a spouse who shares my dream and makes a great business partner,” states Päivi. 

My daughter even said I would be crazy if I didn’t go.

Sea view tops the wish list

When selling a property, Päivi and Riku make sure that it is styled in a neutral decor and that photos taken of the property are of a high quality and taken by a professional photographer.

“We offer the same expertise and service here that we offer in Finland. We are a reliable real estate operator because we genuinely care about people and always treat other people’s property with respect. After all, a home or holiday home is often people’s biggest personal asset,” says Päivi.

For Finns, Spanish homes do not bring any major surprises. In listings, it is not worth paying so much attention to square metres, which may sometimes include terraces. More important than square metres is the layout of the rooms and overall functionality.

“Quite often, Finnish buyers want a sea view and amenities, especially if the property will serve as a holiday home or an income property. Preferences differ more when it comes to full-time living – some like Scandi style, others prefer traditional Spanish style. Outdoor spaces are also important, as people want a terrace or balcony where they can relax or eat,” says Päivi.

Perhaps most unusual for buyers is that in Spain, all homes are individual properties, meaning even in apartment buildings, the owner is responsible for everything. When planning major renovations, however, the necessary permits must be applied for with the relevant parties, such as the city and the community of owners.

When a buyer contacts Solid House, Riku and Päivi will first set up an initial interview to determine the client’s preferences and lifestyle.

“If a client doesn’t have a specific area in mind based on a previous holiday visit, sometimes we can even find them a property that suits their lifestyle in an area that is entirely new to them. We will propose some options, and the buyer is often able to select the best ones based on the photos and basic information about the place, and then we will schedule a showing either with the seller or the seller’s agent. Of course, if the buyer is coming in from Finland, we will try to arrange several showings on the same day,” says Riku.

After finding the right property, the buyer will make an offer and if the offer goes through, a down payment is made and the real estate agent draws up the official papers. The last step is to see a notary together with a solicitor or the consultant to finalise the transaction. On top of the cost for the property, the buyer should be prepared to pay an additional roughly 10% in costs related to transfer tax, notary and solicitor or consultant fees, and other official charges.

Buying a property takes steady nerves and courage

The real estate business in Spain differs from that in Finland in that the seller usually has an extensive team of agents selling, and the commission is shared by the buyer and seller. The buyer first selects their agent.

“I think this system is good for all parties. The buyer then doesn’t have to deal with dozens of different agents and agencies. I like the collaboration between real estate agents, because here we are more colleagues than competitors,” stresses Päivi.

Päivi and Riku agree that people thinking about buying a property in Spain should not be intimidated.

“The first step is to get yourself an NIE number and a Spanish bank account. Like in Finland, real estate transactions in Spain involve a number of official documents, but they are taken care of by the real estate agent, who also goes over the documents with the client. The agent furthermore makes sure that any outstanding payments connected with the property are settled before concluding the transaction.
Other services, such as a solicitor, are also available through Solid House. Buyers just need to be aware that not everything will be taken care of precisely according to their schedule. Getting started is easy – all you need is plenty of patience and a good real estate agent,” encourages Riku. ■

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