In January this year, we sold a great house in Pinos del Valle to Jacqui and Alistair Cornford, a lovely couple who currently live in Saudi Arabia, but who were looking for their own slice of Lecrin Valley heaven to use as a holiday home and rental before retiring to it at some point in the future.
Recently we went back to visit them to see what they’ve done with the place, and it was so lovely to see them so happy and proud of what they’d achieved, and to see their re-energised and renovated home. Being part of a client’s journey and seeing them so settled is why we love our job.
Read our interview with Jacqui and be inspired to find your dream home in the Lecrin Valley…
How did you discover the Lecrin Valley?
I am a huge fan of online research and sitting in our home in the giant sandpit that is Saudi Arabia, I had plenty of baking hot weekends to do a lot of it! Alistair and I had visited Spain many times; the mountains in the north and beautiful cities and coast of the east. I had a dream for us to have a home in Spain and specifically Barcelona, but when we visited in 2017, a few years since were last there, we found it had lost its Spanish charm. So, I started hunting and researching different areas of Spain.
The first condition was that we knew we wanted somewhere Spanish, properly Spanish! We also wanted somewhere warm for most of the year, so that narrowed down the search a bit. It also needed to have good road links, not too far from an airport. When I stumbled upon the Lecrin Valley, I was hooked. It is convenient, has amazing scenery with the lakes and the mountains and you can get to either the beautiful city of Granada or to the beach in just over 30 minutes. It seemed just perfect!
What do you love about the valley now you’re here?
When we came on our house-hunt, in 2018, it was our first visit to the Lecrin Valley and to Pinos del Valle and from our research, we had quite high expectations and worried it may not meet them. Fortunately, it is so much more in real life than any of the pictures and write-ups!
It is hard to explain, but it is a truly beautiful location. As you drive from Malaga airport and leave the coast over your shoulder, the views are simply magnificent. We love the rural villages more and more each time we visit; especially the wonderful warmth of the local people.
As you walk through the village, exchange a polite and cheery ‘Hola!’ and that will start a conversation. We do not know them and cannot speak Spanish, but it doesn’t seem to matter – they’ll still have a conversation, a smiley ‘Ciao’ and we happily part ways. They certainly know us now, which is just so lovely!
How did you find the property search?
We started checking out the houses for sale on the internet. There is such a variety – town houses, country houses, some needing modernisation and some already beautiful. I made a list and sent an email to the first agent I came across, Danielle at At Home in Andalusia.
She was so helpful and offered to help us view all of the properties on our list, even the ones that were not on her books, which made our visit so much easier.
She arranged all of the viewings we requested, and there were many and extremely varied, as we were not sure what we wanted. She made it easy and fun; she is easy going and instantly you feel like old friends. Her fluent Spanish and way with the sellers was invaluable, as we were asking lots of questions about the houses.
After two days with us, listening to what we didn’t want, she had started to understand what we really did want from a house. This house is going to be our home, not a holiday home, so we wanted somewhere that would give us scope and space, but given we are not going to be here for a few years, in the meantime it needed to be suitable for a rental. This was a tricky brief! She told us about a house that we had not shortlisted and arranged a viewing. The minute we arrived, we instantly knew it was the one. We went home to think about it, but within a week our offer was accepted.
What was the buying process like?
While we were visiting looking at the houses, Danielle helped us to find a solicitor and put a POA (Power of Attorney) in place. Being overseas and not just a couple of hours away, this proved a huge advantage. The solicitor was great, spoke English and explained the house buying process to us. As we left at the end of the week, we felt organised and sure this was the location for us.
The house purchase was all very organised and not stressful at all. The solicitor checked all of the legalities of the house, there were a couple of queries, but he resolved these quickly. We did not want to complete on the sale for a couple of months, so he arranged this and the sale went through as we wanted. The solicitors have been a fantastic help in setting up our utilities, opening bank accounts and helping advise us on our residency and tax positions. We are still in touch with them when we have a query and they are always happy to help.
What have you been up to since your purchase?
Since buying the house in January, we stayed in touch with Danielle and she helped introduce us to so many new and useful people, which has been brilliant and so helpful.
We have managed to completely renovate the inside of the house, removed walls, remodelled the kitchen, put in new bathrooms, built chimneys, replaced the doors and windows and installed central heating all from 3,000 miles away!!! Oh, and built new entrance walls and gate, before visiting in May to complete the decoration and furnishings.
The renovations were managed by a local company from the Lecrin Valley, who provided a really personal service. It was a little stressful at times; frustrating not being closer and there were a few issues in getting our message or vision completely understood, but this is quite normal and it all turned out just fine!
The fittings were all purchased locally, and we sourced a great window supplier near Malaga. The results are fantastic and the house was ready for rental by June. It is now fully rented for the summer months, supported by a local team from within the Valley. Really it all couldn’t have gone any smoother.
Our motto is Relax, Renew, Refresh. That’s what we hope to achieve when we visit and finally retire to our amazing place, and in the meantime, we wish all of our guests a very happy holiday!
You can find out more about Cortijo El Olivar on the website, here, WWW.CortijoElOlivar.net
PHOTOS supplied by Jacqueline Cornford.