Under Contract on the Spain Property
Plus more photos, renovation plans, money transfer troubles, stress, and the future
Greetings from Mexico—last week, I emailed a signed purchase agreement on the fixer-upper in Cornudella de Montsant and transferred 5,000 euros to my real estate agent in Reus, Spain, where it’ll be held in his bank account as an escrow.
He is now acting as my agent, the seller’s agent, and the escrow holder. In the U.S., this would be illegal in a lot of states, and I’d have a lot of reservations if he weren’t the father of a close friend. If it were a stranger, I’d have already paid an English-speaking lawyer in Barcelona to look over everything for me. But, as it is, my real estate agent and I spent Thanksgiving together, drank copious amounts of Vermouth together. I even hosted him for a few nights at my house in New Hampshire when he came to visit his son.
Still, it’s been more stressful than I’d hoped. Buying a house always is.
First, there is the time difference, with me in Baja, Mexico, and him in Barcelona (+8 hours, but who’s counting?). Then there is the language barrier. He speaks about as good English as I speak Spanish, which is to say marginally decent. Let’s just say Google translate has been my friend the past few weeks as we’ve been texting back and forth about the details.
Then, there is a kind of unspecified cultural difference. But this is hard to pin down. At one point I fired off a nervous question, something about what was taking so long—and he wrote back, tranquillo… todo bien—calm down, all is well. Things just seem to take longer over there, and I’m still getting used to doing business on Spanish time.
Right now, the main stress is how to get the money to close on the purchase into the correct bank account. I’m paying cash for the property—total sale price €43,000 plus impuestos—but moving it all into the right account and getting an international wire transfer set up is easier said than done when out of the country, what with daily and monthly limits on mobile deposits and various other quirks.
Thankfully, en route to Barcelona to close on the purchase next month, I’ll have some time in New York to actually walk into a Wells Fargo and get it all sorted. Still, I’ll only have a few days for all the money to get moved, cleared, and a transfer set up.
But things are moving. It’s all happening.
If I can close on the property next month, that’ll leave me some time before the Summer to get the architects and contractors started on the structural parts of the renovation that I won’t be able to do myself. It all feels just slightly overwhelming, which is just where I want to be—in deep, but not quite over my head, at least I don’t think.
So, what will this renovation entail? Let’s dive in—many photos to share below!
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