Wow. There are umpteen sites to browse properties for sale in Spain. But maybe you are not there yet, first you have to decide whether to rent or buy. And if you are renting, would you consider renting from a spanish person (yes, it is usually more economical) or does it have to be a countryman (usually you understand each other better).
My personal experience here in Spain is that the interior quality is usually better in apartments and houses owned by foreigners than properties owned by the locals. If you live in a harsher climate, you will have higher demands on the standard of your habitat.
But as usual, you have to pay for it and the spanish owned properties are generally cheaper to rent.
Buying from realtor or private?
If you are buying property, first thing to consider is whether you shall buy from a real estate agent or privately. The laws varies from country to country. For instance, in Spain you do not have to have a degree to work as a real estate agent. That’s why you want to make sure you contract one of the better ones.
The greatest advantage of using a real estate agent is that if you find a good one, they have long experience of the purchase process and know the area perfectly and have access to tens of thousands of properties for sale through their networks.
Since the real estate agent has very limited responsibility in Spain compared to many other countries, you always contract a lawyer to do all the check-up of the property. He/she makes sure all mortgages are disclosed, that the seller is really the owner of the property and so on. I can recommend the law firm Wallin & Partner in Fuengirola or Nordgren Law if you are buying around Marbella.
Recommendations for buying and selling an apartment or a house
After more than 11 years here in Spain, I have found some real estate agents that I find trustworthy. Alamo is one of the major agents in Fuengirola, Serneholt Estate has offices in several of the most popular areas in Spain and StartGroup in Calahonda, between Fuengirola and Marbella. They all have an international staff and they can all source properties from the whole market as they have cooperations with lots of other agents. You can also find them on Facebook: Alamo, Serneholt & StartGroup.
If you want to be a bit more adventurous, you might find some unlisted properties on Vibbo (prev. Segundamano) and Milanuncios. Some UK sites also sport spanish properties, such as Rightmove and A Place in the Sun, in case you don’t speak Spanish.
One final advice for the road. Try it. If you are not already living here, visit the place and make sure you really get along well before you buy. Then when you buy you will really have a good time here. Olé!