If you're buying a Spanish holiday villa or apartment as an investment you'll probably want to generate an income from letting it while watching your property's value appreciate (hopefully!). Holiday property letting is big business in Spain and to maximize your income you need to take a businesslike approach to it. If you buy the right kind of property in the right location you'll be able to let it for several months of the year, not just in high season, producing a good income that more than covers your mortgage and maintenance costs.
The big question is how do you go about securing those all-important tenants? There are three main ways that foreign owners advertise their properties - through high street agents, on the Internet and via private ads in newspapers and specialist magazines. Using an agent has many advantages in that you simply hand over the keys and they handle the rest. Most agents offer a property management service as well as handling holiday bookings for you and in the most popular tourist areas they'll normally offer you a guaranteed income for at least July and August. The down side is that some agents charge 25% or more per booking for their service.
Even if you decide to swallow the often exorbitant agents' fees, consider hiring a separate property manager who's on the spot and can keep an eye on the place for you. It's a good idea to have an independent person who has access to your property while you're abroad and can notify you if the agent doesn't seem to be doing a good job on your behalf. Maybe the agents' cleaners aren't up to scratch and sticky sweet papers are left lying under the beds when new tenants arrive. Maybe the pool isn't being cleaned regularly or tenants' complaints about leaking taps etc aren't being resolved promptly. Unfortunately all these things can and do occur with monotonous regularity!
Successful holiday property owners generate a reliable income from repeat business - happy customers come back year after year and spread the word among their family and friends. So the last thing you want is a sloppy agent jeopardising your business.
If you have the time and energy you might want to consider advertising on the Internet and handling booking enquiries by phone and / or email. There are many excellent holiday rental web sites specialising in the Spanish market and the great advantage of most of them is that they charge you a one-off annual advertising fee rather than commissions on each booking. Many offer you your own web page with colour photographs of your property, an in-depth description and a direct email link for site visitors to contact you. Of course if you decide to take this approach you'll still need a property manager to take care of key handovers, supervise the cleaning and pool maintenance etc.