Insight, intuition, feedback and finally validation…

Having the personal conviction of the economic, social, and environmental orientation, as well as the framework one wishes to give their business is one thing… Implementing this in a market, which is moving in the other direction, is another!


The emotional rollercoaster

Finally, after several months of an emotional rollercoaster, during which the entire team experienced moments of great happiness quickly followed by heavy doubts or intense emotions, Withfor comes to the fore. Withfor, the first ethical estate agent.


The not so obvious evidence

Now let’s try to explain to everyone what this is. To our astonishment: the concept we have carried inside us for months with such conviction, was not as straightforward to explain and convey as we had thought. The economic model we had chosen because it reflected our values, seemed to be confusing: “Ah, it’s an estate agent that offers council housing?” Or “it’s an estate agent that doesn’t charge commission?” We also heard: “This is marketing, it won’t last, it’s advertising”.

Advertising, advertising…. Absolutely not!  Withfor is the continuation of who we are, both the founders and the team. We haven’t changed to create Withfor. On the contrary, Withfor is an extension of who we are as individuals. Live better, mutual respect and respect for the environment.

An individual focus extended to the workplace

We are convinced of the enormous impact business activities have on the world we will live in tomorrow. Through our choices, when it comes to buying a product or service, we define the world in which we want to live.

Of course, the pioneers or “early birds” are already “adherents” if not “addicts”, but sadly they are a long way from representing a majority. Not only was our message not understood, but it was also a source of misunderstandings.

Despite all of these “failed” introductions, our slightly troubled belief remained firmly anchored and our inner voice whispered: “Don’t let it go, it is the right choice”.

What is an ethical estate agency?

An ethical estate agent is an estate agency that doesn’t view its profits as its sole objective, but also the common good and the well-being of its employees.

It is an agency that reinvents the market code and specifically guarantees that all parties involved in the process of renting, buying or selling, end up winners. Impartiality and neutrality are its slogans.

Getting back to the essence of the profession, we wanted to create a structure that would attract talent once more.


Nothing ever happens by chance

Keep listening to your inner whisperings and keep believing in yourself. Such was my relief when one morning, unexpectedly, I received an email from one of our external partners. It was an invitation to participate in a two-day event in Barcelona: Multiplicadores B. By the end of the first morning, I felt transformed and relieved. Doors open and our visionary perspective is embraced. Ten years from now, businesses that don’t have this social and environmental conscience will be perceived as obsolete and irresponsible. They will have huge difficulties in attracting and maintaining employees.

I’m split between joy and astonishment. I make two observations:

1. Phew! We are not alone … Other companies have the same concerns as us.

2. Phew! We are not crazy … Our idea is not so ridiculous, it is even considered the economic model all companies should follow in the future, and it is backed up by an international network established more than 10 years ago.

Multiplicadores B are businesses certified as B corporations by B lab. Multiplicadores B stands for “profit multipliers” or “multiple benefits”. These are businesses that measure their development, not just through the increase of their profits, but through the extent and impact of other benefits created within society, people, and the environment.

Economic model validation

B Corp, as well as validating our ethical DNA, in a neutral and impartial way, also offers us tools and a specific structure to implement, develop and constantly improve our actions and internal “processes”.

As well as opening to us a community that has followed the same path and with whom we can share our experiences, the B Corp community is inspirational: it is a great mechanism to help any business to improve.

We are not crazy; we are not alone … Phew!

Real Estate News

Golden Visa

During an improvised breakfast with Estrella, Withfor’s Chinese collaborator, I realised that the profile of high-level Asian clients, as discreet as it may be, was worth understanding. In fact, her discretion is only matched by her efficiency, particularly when it comes to implementing legal arrangements like the “Golden Visa”. So, I decided to devote a few lines to the subject.


The Golden Visa

Since 2013, Spain (alongside other European countries) has applied a legislation [1] that allows citizens from countries outside the EU, to solicit a new type of visa which offers “permission of residence” for up to 5 years. Furthermore, it offers the possibility of obtaining an employment contract. Supposedly this legal arrangement will attract highly qualified professionals, but also foreign currency.

The law lists the criteria for obtaining the new Visa, whether you are an entrepreneur developing a business in Spain or an investor in public debt or real estate. The minimum amount, in this last case, is 500,000 euros, but it may be split between various buildings.

This legislation sometimes referred to as the “Golden Visa”, has been successful with the metropolitan area of Barcelona being the main beneficiary of the scheme. In fact, in 2016, 893 apartments were sold under this arrangement. Two-thirds of the acquisitions were made by Chinese and Russian citizens.


Rental investment

However, in some cases it seems that the buyers had no intention of moving to Barcelona but sought to make a rental investment (almost always in new buildings) while taking advantage of the Spanish Visa which allows free travel throughout Europe (the Schengen area). Which were the areas most favoured by these buyers? The surveys show: Diagonal Mar, Zona Alta, Sant Cugat, Sant Just and Esplugues de Llobregat.

No one would be surprised to hear that some 100% Chinese agencies, always in search of good business, have opened their doors to this wealthy clientele.

By May 2018, almost 41,000 foreign citizens had taken advantage of the arrangement and obtained the famous residency permit (Source Idealista). But it seems that, in recent months, the Chinese government has curbed the outflow of foreign currency. Now is the time for the citizens of North and Latin America, and the Middle East, to consider the opportunity this presents them.

Estrella’s tip:

Don’t leave it until the last minute! In other words, we should take advantage of the current opportunity while it lasts… The law could change if the economic context evolves or the authorities in Brussels deem it necessary. As a Withfor collaborator, Estrella never neglects this legal opportunity.