Tips for buying a holiday rental home in Spain

Buying A Spain Vacation Rental Tips

Posted on: | Category:

Even though I am still a relative newbie to owning a rental home in Spain (I bought Casa Elana in 2022), I often get asked for advice on choosing the right house and getting it ready for guests. So here are my top tips for picking the right rental property and buying a home in Spain.

Location Location Location!

It's a cliche, and it's 100% true. But, the right location is not always as obvious as it seems.

Armed with a modest budget of, let's say, â‚Ŧ100k, the first thing most do is scour Idealista for suitably priced apartments in all the usual Costa tourist traps: Marbella, Benidorm, Fuengirola, etc. Pretty soon, most discover that this budget doesn't get much in these areas; at best, you'll be looking at a one-bed studio. Why? because these are the popular places!

But price isn't the only reason to rule out these locations. Yes, everyone loves a bit of Benidorm, but it's fiercely competitive when it comes to holiday rentals. When times are good, things can be great, but in the quieter periods, you can find yourself in competition with hundreds of other hosts, who, nine times out of ten, will beat you in a race to be the cheapest.

There is another reason to look beyond the tourist traps, too. I'm not for one moment suggesting that only people who holiday in the popular Spanish resorts are trouble, but the harsh reality is that the more popular the resort, the more likely it is that, sooner or later, you are going to rent your holiday home to someone who is less than desirable. Or, god forbid, the dreaded stag party!

So, my first tip is to look beyond the popular resorts. You'll get way more houses for your money, have way less competition, and often have less troublesome guests.

Buy Once Buy Well

Once you've found the location, it's time to find the house. If you are already seriously considering buying a house in Spain, you'll already be well aware of the high taxes involved. Taxes range from 7% to 11% of the purchase price. Then, on top of that, you've got your legal fees.

Selling isn't much cheaper, either. You'll need to pay capital gain tax on any profit made, additional legal fees, and agent fees.

For these reasons, buying and selling houses in Spain is horribly expensive, so you need to make sure you get the right house the first time. It's pretty common for people to buy their dream home, only to then realise it's not so dreamy after all. They look into selling and buying somewhere else, only to discover that once the dust has settled on the sale, they've lost a huge chunk of money and end up with not much to spend on the new house.

So my top tip here is to buy the very best house you can afford the first time. If you have to stretch yourself, do it because it's often not financially possible to change a year or two later.

Size Matters But Quality Matters More

The quality of Spanish-built houses can vary vastly. Some can be massive and look amazing, but the gloss can hide structural issues and poor workmanship. And then you have the legality of many builds. It's a minefield.

If a village townhouse is your thing, make sure at least one entire length of the house gets the sun for at least a few hours a day. Otherwise, they can get very damp in Winter. In some of the narrow village streets, this can be a challenge. That said, dampness is always an issue in village townhouses, so don't be put off by a bit of faking paint.

Also, check that you will own the entire footprint of a house. In older villages, it's common for townhouses to end up with weird layouts, where the house next door might have a room that protrudes into your footprint or where the top floor of your house might be part of your neighbour's home. Sometimes, it's not always obvious when this happens, so be sure you check carefully.

If you are looking for a villa, check how thick the walls are. Some are built with only a single skin of Spanish brick, which means they can be costly to heat in Winter (yes, it gets cold in Spain in Winter, especially at night).

And always... ALWAYS... Get an excellent solicitor entirely independent of the selling agent, and have them do a very deep dive into the ownership and legality of any house you fall in love with. Legal issues with Spanish houses are rare and can often be fixed, but it always costs. So, buyer beware!

Know Your New House

Before buying Casa Elana, my wife and I stayed all over Spain looking for our perfect location. Most of the time, we used vacation rental homes. Occasionally, there would be an issue with the house, so we'd get in touch with the owner, who very often came back with, "Oh, I don't know, I've not spent much time in the house myself."

Simple things like handling a temperamental boiler, where the water stop tap is, what's the quietest bedroom to sleep in during a fiesta, and so on are things you only learn after spending a prolonged period in the house. And it's vital that you know them. Your guests expect it from you.

I was fortunate that after buying Casa Elana, I was able to stay there permanently for a few months, getting it ready for my family and guests. So once I started renting it out, I knew the house well. If you cannot do this, only consider renting once you've spent a few holidays there.

And Finally...

Equip The House For Living In

Harking back to the time my wife and I spent in Airbnbs when looking for our own place in the sun, we soon realised it was easy to spot the holiday homes that were primarily used by the owners, with the rental business just a sideline, and those that were bought and set up purely for renting.

The latter were always sparsely equipped, often with only the absolute basics. I'm talking about not even proper coffee-making facilities, a BBQ, or enough pots and pans in the kitchen to cook a meal.

Whereas those used regularly by the owners were always well-equipped and set up. You knew it was an actual home, not just a business.

So, my final top tip for those looking to buy a vacation rental house in Spain is to don't be cheap when it comes to equipping it. Even if you never plan to spend a night in it yourself, make sure your guests have everything they need to make your holiday rental business their perfect holiday home.

We loved staying here. Great house, clean, with all the amenities and many details that have made a perfect stay.

Lucia - Airbnb

Casa Elana is a beautiful traditional house in a lovely location with a private rooftop terrace that boasts beautiful views of the surrounding area.

Andrea - Google

Beautiful quaint Spanish townhouse, close to the village centre, tapas bars, restaurants and shops. Spacious roof terrace which overlooks the mountain.

Paula - Facebook

Cannot rate this house highly enough! The hosts have thought of everything for a great stay. Spacious and homely with a wonderful roof terrace with a great view across the Torrox hills. A great find!

Linda - Facebook

Lovely location, with beautiful views of the village. The accommodation was very comfortable and clean. The hosts were very helpful and attentive.

Eli - AirBnB

Casa Elana is quaint, clean and has lots of storage space and no clutter. The owners, Steve & Elaine, take care of all issues immediately.

Ken - Google

Casa Elana is quaint, clean and has lots of storage space and no clutter. The owners, Steve & Elaine, take care of all issues immediately.

Ken - Google


Casa Elana
Calle Pontil 1
Torrox Pueblo 29793
Malaga Spain

Tourist Licence: VFT/MA/55769