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“A good Relocation service saves you time, energy, and stress”

We spoke with Julie Plottier, manager and co-founder of Withfor, and Rosa Domingo, Hospitality manager of this ethical estate agent in Barcelona, so they could tell us about the Relocation service provided by Withfor and all the advantages it offers the client.

 

Who is this service aimed at?

Rosa Domingo: The Relocation service in Barcelona is aimed just as much at national, as international clients, who for personal reasons or work, need to move to live in Barcelona.

 

What does Withfor’s Relocation service offer the client?

RD: We offer all the help they might need, from housing to more administrative assistance to obtain documentation (NIE, Social Security, etc.) We also help them to find schools for their children, and any other things that might arise, like childcare, a gym, a medical centre, or other requirements. They ask us for all kinds of recommendations.

So, to offer a good Relocation service, it’s essential to work with efficient suppliers who you trust…

RD: Of course. Sometimes, for us, they’re the simplest and easiest tasks. For example, if they want to do a renovation or find a good professional decorator, we recommend businesses that we already know are reliable.

A good Relocation service saves you lots of time.

RD: Sure. Time and energy.

Julie Plottier: You save, time, stress, nerves… all the doubts you might have about the process, it’s one of life’s most stressful moments, especially if there are children involved. Almost always, the worries are based around the children, when in reality it’s the children who adapt better than the adults.

There’s an important emotional side to this work… The customers want to feel accompanied, to give stability to their families, and make the right decisions…

JP: Totally. On a professional level, we must be experts in the city, know it inside out, and advise our clients regarding real estate matters.  But it’s also vital to use a bit of psychology. For each family – and we’ve dealt with over 100 – their culture is always their point of reference. We have to be their support and know how to explain clearly how things work here; let them know that some processes might take longer and some aspects may be different from those in their respective countries of origin.

RD: When someone decides to move abroad, they’re leaving their comfort zone and that of their whole family. Everything is new, there are things that you’ll like and others that you won’t and you have to adapt. And there are some handicaps like the language… So having someone who understands you, who helps you, who speaks your language, and who is there to guide you through this process, is priceless.

What additional value does Withfor’s Relocation service offer? What is it that makes you different or unique?

RD: We are professionals and we love what we do, even though it’s hard work. The clients release their tension on us, their nerves, their emotions… Doing a Relocation when the sun is shining is one thing, doing it in the rain, is something else. You have to make a real effort to make it fun, enjoyable…

JP: I think that our added value is that at Withfor we have professionals from the real estate industry and the service industry. We combine both aspects, always doing so on a personal basis from a human point of view. There aren’t any other businesses in Barcelona that have both parts: at Withfor we have the real estate knowledge for house searches and knowledge of the service sector, that’s what makes us unique.

How do you proceed? What steps do you follow to produce a suitable plan specific to the client?

RD: The first is to listen, to understand what they want and are hoping for, what are their concerns, their wishes, and their priorities. At Withfor we make individual plans, and everyone gets a personalised service. We organise a schedule and also create a route of specific places to visit.

Usually, the first contact with the client isn’t made in person…

JP: Often, the first time we speak, we do so by telephone or by Skype. It allows us to perceive what they’re like, to listen to the client, and not hesitate in calling them back if necessary… If we’re dealing with a couple, we try to speak to both partners because sometimes they have different points of view.

RD: We have to instil confidence in them, and make sure they don´t lose it along the way. The client needs to feel that they’re dealing with someone who is very clear about things, who won’t mislead them, and who is sincere from the outset… and that is what they find at Withfor.

How long can a full Relocation service take?

JP: It depends on the case; each one is different depending on the needs of the client.

RD: Yes. Some people like to look at things well in advance, not something we recommend because the real estate market in Barcelona changes a great deal, and very quickly. For some matters yes, it’s worth proceeding early, like for example the administration, or finding a school for the children… But the question of housing is more difficult. We send more general information, but we’re dependent on the reality of the market.

JP: This is a point that’s very culturally marked. People from countries such as Switzerland or Germany, expect us to send them a schedule, the properties…. it’s difficult to transmit that we need to be calm, that there are realistic time frames…

RD: It also depends on the type of property. According to the budget, sometimes properties go fast. Others are more specific. We try to follow certain steps when performing the property search. We go from the broader to the more specific, identifying what it is that they like and what they don’t…  This way we end up defining exactly what each family is looking for. There need to be lots of dialogue and lots of communication. And it’s very important not to make assumptions, and to be open to all possibilities.

Do you end up kind of, establishing a friendship with the client?

RD: Yes, sure. We end up forming a very special relationship with the clients and they appreciate it. You really feel it first-hand, when everything turns out well it’s very gratifying.

What is the most curious thing you can recall that has been asked of you during a Relocation service?

JP: Once a client asked us to help them find a babysitter for their cat. And we had to be prepared for everything, even that.

The Relocation service also covers the time when it comes to leaving the city. How can you help during this phase?

RD: Yes, sure. It’s a service that is contracted less often but I think it’s very important. When a client leaves and vacates the property they have been living in, there are loads of issues that need to be closed. Working with an entry and exit checklist avoids a lot of headaches. It’s highly recommendable to contract this service.

The Relocation service guides your installation in a new city and accompanies you throughout the entire process so that the experience is as satisfactory as possible. For this, it’s very important to secure the best professionals, who know as much about the real estate sector as the service sector, and on top of this are open to different cultures and ways of thinking to understand all the needs and requirements that may arise. Do you want to know more about this service? Visit the following link.

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Advice Be ethical, live better

5 practical energy saving tips

A study of the energy consumption of 400 homes that were closed during the holiday period revealed that 80%, or in some cases as much as 100%, of the electricity consumed, corresponds to appliances in “standby” and the fridge.

Climate change is already a reality, and in the coming decades, it will continue to affect the lives of many people, ecosystems, and species. If on top of this, we add the continuous rise in demand for energy, in the end, it will bring us to a point where we must stop and reflect, before the situation deteriorates any further.

We can reduce our energy consumption (at least whilst on holiday) with a few simple steps before walking out of the door with a suitcase in hand.

  1. Do we need to leave the fridge on? 

The fridge is one of the electrical appliances that consume the most energy. We advise emptying, unplugging, and leaving the door open. If you’re going to be away for less than a week, another option is to set the thermostat to the lowest setting possible. In this way, an energy saving of up to 6% can be achieved for each degree raised.

  1. Do we usually leave the boiler on?

An electric boiler can account for 25% of the electricity consumption within a home. For this reason, it’s important to disconnect it when going away. It makes no sense to have the boiler connected to the mains and produce hot water if no one is going to use it.

  1. Devices on “stand-by”

It’s thought that they consume nothing or very little, but the costs of appliances on stand-by can mean an annual increase in the energy bill of approximately €70. It’s important to realise that devices that are connected to the mains supply, consume electricity even when not in use.

  1. Better, unplugged

Some devices don´t have a “standby” function and continue to consume electricity even when not being used. This is the case with telephones, thermostats, air-conditioning units, etc.

  1. Switch off the fuse box

If you want to make a 10% saving on your energy consumption, completely disconnect your home from the mains supply.

Saving energy is an easy way to reduce harmful emissions of CO2 (Carbon dioxide) into the atmosphere. For every kilowatt hour of electricity that we save, we avoid the emission of roughly one kilogram of CO2 at the power station where the coal or oil is burnt to produce this electricity.

If it’s so easy to contribute to caring for the planet, why not? Disconnecting is a question of attitude and willpower. With just a few minutes of your time, you can save energy and reduce your electricity bill.

This year it’s time to “disconnect” x3, for your mental well-being, that of your wallet, and that of our planet.

Categories
Advice Real Estate News

Key aspects of the new Mortgage Act

The passing of the Act will help to unblock the mortgage market after several months of uncertainty. In fact, some banks have already begun to adapt to the new legislation; assuming all the costs including the valuation, in the hope of attracting new clients.  In the following months we will see how the supply of mortgages diversifies, some banks will reduce their rates while others will increase theirs. What’s important is that you compare different offers and find whats best suited to your needs.

So, what is this Act, that has got everyone talking, all about? In this article, we will explain the new Act analysing in simple terms how it can help you.

As a customer, youll have more guarantees.

This new Act aims to correct past errors and reduce claims within the sector regarding matters like floor clauses, which will now be completely excluded from contracts, or the Mortgage Loan Reference Index (IRPH).

How? 

  • On the one hand, the Act requires the client to visit a notary, who will carry out a questionnaire to be sure that the client understands all the conditions of the loan. The client is obliged to visit the notary twice and during one of these visits, the bank will not be present.
  • On the other hand, the legislation requires that the lender delivers a draft of the mortgage contract, at least 10 days before its signing, so the client has sufficient time to thoroughly analyse it.
  • Both future borrowers and those already repaying a mortgage can freely benefit from a mortgage comparison service encompassing the entire market.

You save money

The Act sets forth a more equal distribution of costs between the client and the financial institution. The bank will bear the mortgage costs: notary, administration, registration and stamp duty. While the client will assume the costs of the valuation – unless the bank wants to pay this – as well as the costs of setting up the mortgage. On average, the saving for the client will be between 500 and 1000 euros.

The banks can continue to charge an arrangement fee, which will have a different cost determined by the lender. The new legislation dictates that this fee can only be charged once and must cover all the costs associated with the analysis, processing and granting of the loan.

On the other hand, the Act sees a 50% reduction of early repayment fees for fixed-rate mortgages (2% during the first 10 years, and 1,5% thereafter), while for variable rate mortgages, the client must choose from three, or five-year amortisation rates (0,25% and 0,15% respectively).

Furthermore, with the new Act, if the client is unsatisfied with the conditions which they signed, they can change them without being charged fees by the lender for the novation of the loan.

The conditions for eviction are softened

The steady flow of evictions in our country has been one of the social dramas of the last few years. The new regulation also seeks to influence this and noticeably softens the conditions required prior to proceeding with foreclosure. Now the bank cannot take action until the client has accumulated 12 months of missed payments, or 3% of the loan, in the first half of the contract. In the second half of the loan, the quota of missed payments prior to eviction is 15 months or 7% of the mortgage.

Lenders cant force you to contract other products

The Act prohibits the sale of attached products. Banks can’t oblige clients to take out insurance, or any other product, as a condition for being granted a mortgage. However, lenders can offer discounts on their interest rates if the client contracts home insurance, for example.

Remortgaging will be free

Remortgaging means moving the mortgage from one bank to another. Under the new regulation the client, with loans prior to the new act, can freely remortgage their property at no cost.

The new legislation facilitates this change with the abolishment of remortgage fees that up until now have been fluctuating between 0.25% and 1%, depending on the year in which the property was purchased. To avoid a war between lenders “stealing” mortgages, the Act instils charges on the bank that is affecting the operation.

Environmentally friendly projects are rewarded

Known as green mortgages, those that are aimed at projects investing in energy efficiency, don’t require a notarised deed and can be registered at any time during the term of credit without having to pay the stamp duty.