From that unforgettable day onwards, we were then sent e-mails on a daily basis from companies such as Kyero and ThinkSpain with numerous properties both in our chosen area andfurther afield. As we quickly discovered, these are nationwide platforms that host all the estate agents properties, a little like Zoopla and Rightmove I suppose.
They must have links to the Estate Agents we searched and then added us onto their mailing list. To be honest we didn’t mind that much as it gave us a broad insight into what else is out there.
Would you believe, only a few days after our Eureka moment, I received an e-mail from A Place in the Sun offering free tickets to their touring exhibition and this one was at the NEC in Birmingham. I think the company also have links to foreign estate agents as this was too much of a coincidence. I immediately saw a way of achieving many brownie points with Deb and getting a free day out, soI downloaded the tickets straightaway.
‘Hi hun,’ I said when Deb returned from work that evening ‘I’ve got a surprise for you.’ ‘So have I,’ she replied excitedly ‘but you first.’ ‘Well,’ I said ‘I have managed to acquire a couple of tickets foran A Place in the Sun exhibition at the NEC. These tickets are really sought after and difficult to come by and please don’t ask about the cost, you wouldn’t want to know, but anything for you.’ I was going to come clean later, honest.
‘That’s strange,’ she said ‘I got an e-mail at work today offering me tickets for the same event, for free, and it was worded like they couldn’t even give them away.’ Anyway, moving swiftly on…..
Over the next few days Deb started searching for the best deals for flights to Valencia and somewhere to stay near to Montroi. The one we ended up with was the Hotel La Carreta on the A3 about 15mins from Valencia city heading West. It was directly adjacent to Circuit Ricardo Tormo, apparently a well know motor racing circuit.
Flights were booked for November, which was only 4 weeks away, and a 3 night stay organised at La Carreta. Once the flights, accommodation and car hire were booked we contacted Azahar Properties, a chap called Simon Creed, and Spain and Property, a lady called Suzy (unpronouncable Spanish surname). We told them the dates we were in Spain and arranged viewing days for the properties we had chosen from their portfolios. We arranged to meet Suzy at her office directly from the airport and Simon the following day.
All really exciting, couldn’t wait, but first we had the A Place in the Sun exhibition to look forward to. It would be good to get some advice, guidance and a bit of knowledge before we go on our viewing trip.
We travelled South to Birmingham on the day of the exhibition, expecting great things and really looking forward to the whole day. I said to Deb in the morning ‘Make sure you wear really comfy shoes as you will be walking miles all day today, the halls at the NEC are huge.’ ‘I know,’ she said, ‘we went to the motor show years ago and I came back absolutely shattered.’ So we were going fully prepared for a full day of walking round, gathering information on property purchases in Spain.
We turned up early, which will surprise nobody out there who knows me, in order to get a decent parking space, which we achieved. Onwards to the entrance and into the foyer of the hall, with people already queueing for the exhibition to open. It was like a Saga or Warner Leisure Hotels coach trip had just turned up. All grey hair and pullovers over the shoulders, Ken Barlowesque style. ‘Are we in the right place?’ I said to Deb ‘It looks like a Derby and Joan tea dance.’ ‘Yes. She replied. ‘See that sign over there, and keep your voice down.’
Anyway, doors opened at 10am, in we rush and there it was in all its glory. Taking up about one tenth of the floor area of a single hall was the ‘exhibition’, using the term very loosely. Around 50 to 60 small stands were set up in a corner of the hall with Estate Agents from European countries and Florida, and money transfer companies, whatever they are. In the centre was a facility for people to carry out a screen test for the programme and then later an opportunity to meet a presenter of the show who would appear live on a small stage.
We obviously avoided the French and Portugese agents, weren’t particularly interested in the rest of Europe, so concentrated on the Spanish agents. They all seemed to be advertising/promoting properties in popular tourist and expat locations and didn’t seem to be particularly interested in our questions about inland properties. Not quite what we had expected.
Next we had a good chat with an agent from Florida, all leathery brown skin and perfect white teeth, originally from the UK and with the weirdest accent I have ever heard, a mix of Floridian/Geordie. It was worth the trip just hear that accent, and one I would defy any impressionist to impersonate.
Finally we had a brief chat with a money transfer chap and I really didn’t get what he was trying to sell. Money transfers? I have a bank for that, what should I be paying you for? Little did I know.
We then thought we would cheer ourselves up by carrying out a screen test. As I am six foot six inches and Deb only 4 foot eleven inches I was looking forward to seeing how the cameraman would achieve a shot that included both of us properly. Chances are he’d have to set his camera up halfway across the rest of the open and unused hall. Unfortunately, we had that particular bit of fun denied us, the queue was huge. I think this is what most people came for as the stalls weren’t that busy.
Ok, we have been here for an hour and walked around the exhibition twice, so we’ve done it all, apart from seeing/meeting a presenter. Apparently the presenter changed on a daily basis, hardly surprising as it must be traumatic facing this lot. ‘Shall we go and see which presenter it is?’ I said to Deb. ‘Good idea,’ she replied, ‘who do you hope it is?’ ‘Not really bothered.’ I said, but secretly hoping it would be Sara Damergi.
More disappointment was to come, not just because it was Jonnie Irwin and not the lovely Sara that was appearing, but he wasn’t showing up until 1pm. It was only 11am, what were we supposed to do for 2 hours? As much as I wanted to test the cameramans skills, I didn’t fancy standing in a queue for that long.
We left then, after an hour,with a plastic bag full of details that were useless to us, feeling a little deflated and disappointed. ‘Think positive,’ Deb said, ‘It was a free day out and we now have our viewing trip to look forward to.’ Things were about to get very real.
coming soon – First property Viewings