Before moving to Spain, my husband and I were running a property business in the UK. He started it in 2014 and I joined a few weeks later. Our tiny team consisted of us, a business partner and an admin apprentice. The company went all the way from start-up to being assessed the number one agent in the UK by industry big name, Rightmove, in just three years.
Then my 30-year-old best friend passed away, having received a diagnosis of a brain tumor only two months prior. Our priorities shifted dramatically. The company’s success had come at a cost. We could no longer hide from the amount of time it was taking away from other parts of life. Friendships, travel and our health. We decided to sell up and create a new life overseas.
Exploring online, we found a tiny parcel of land in Southern Spain. It would allow us a new lease of life. We visited a couple of times and fell in love with the area, the winter weather and the view. We quickly sold our home and business, moving over to a tiny home with a huge heart. Our first year here in the mountains above Lanjarón was extraordinary. We learnt so many new things like the language, how to live off-grid, how to grow our own vegetables and making many new friends along the way.
Then, the effects of the pandemic reached even our rural mountain.
The builder had to stop work. The half-built bathroom wall made the snowy days extremely chilly inside! Limitations on groups meant we missed seeing our friends. We were no longer able to go for horse rides or create music together. Not being able to see our family and friends in the UK was the toughest part. However, we knew we were all lucky not to be personally affected and were grateful for our and our loved ones’ health.
Without external distractions, the positives rose to the top of our minds, like cream on milk. We started to realize that, perhaps at last, we had started to recover from our burnout and grief. We had our remote working company, Different Height, specializing in social media, websites, branding and coaching for small businesses. It was perfectly placed to continue, despite the changes wrought by the virus. Amy Beth, a friend we had made while she was working at a local bar was, of course, now not able to work due to the restrictions. She had been considering a new career for a little while and as we chatted online, it seemed that there may be an opportunity facing us all.
When we had tried to buy a property in the area, we had contacted several estate agents. One that we emailed about a property to ask if it was legal to live in full-time replied with simply: “No”. There was no further contact about our needs, wants, timeframe or other possibilities!
We ended up buying that very property we had enquired about. The owners were more than happy to ensure the legalities were in place. We were even able to organize a option to purchase contract. This meant we were living in the property, paying rent that was removed from the final sale price, and the owners were sorting all the paperwork.
Not only that, the marketing by many of the local agents leaves a lot to be desired. With the experiences we had from our UK company, and Amy Beth’s knowledge, energy and language skills, we decided on a new venture for her and us – a property business.
As the pandemic continued and restrictions kept changing, the work at the bar for Amy Beth was sporadic as best. The bar owner was struggling to be able to pay her. For Amy Beth, this meant that she had time free at least to be able to receive training in the property business.
She immersed herself in learning all she could about the business. Videoing and photographing properties. Editing video tours. The processes of how to market homes the best way. Learning how to ensure home-hunters’ needs are properly documented and what sellers need to do to get their paperwork in order. She started to get to grips with everything needed to provide excellence in estate agency. Not only that, moving from customer service to sales is quite a shift in mindset so these quieter times were proving invaluable to absorb information and develop skills. Or so we thought!
It all took off
The impact of the virus was leading huge numbers of people to re-evaluate their lives. Ardent urbanites were considering the benefits of a country home. Long held ambitions of retiring abroad were coming to the fore. Some couples were realizing their goals no longer aligned. Families were looking for more space.
These reasons and many more mean there are no shortage of people keen to find a new dream home, particularly in this area of extraordinary natural beauty. Similarly, people were looking to sell their homes to release finances to further their dreams in other ways. News started to spread about the new property team and enquiries from buyers and sellers have been flooding in.
Lucy is another friend we have made since living in the area. She is well known within the expat community. She is the go-to person for bureaucracy and similar process queries as she has worked in local government for several years. Having grown up here, her bilingual skills ensure she can support both locals and English-speaking people to navigate the paperwork and systems.
As the estate agency idea developed, questions about how to best set up the business were naturally put to Lucy. It didn’t take long before another possibility revealed itself. As Lucy is only part-time with the local government, we could also support her to run her own consultancy part-time, which would complement the property business perfectly.
On 1st February, our office is opening in Lanjarón’s main square. The large windows will display local artisanal goods created by skilled creatives of the Alpujarras, to provide a little extra support for our community. LCD screens will offer video tours of properties and local trusted traders. Inside, you’ll find the hottest new estate agency in Granada province, Lanjarón Property, and the independent translation and consultation agency, Tus Alpujarras. We hope you’ll pop in and say hola soon!
In case you have an itch to follow in Louisa and Lucy’s footsteps we also have an article on the 10 do’s for being self employed in Spain.