Tips for Buying Property in Spain

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The price of Spanish property has fallen dramatically.   In fact, the prices have dropped between 35% and 50% since 2007 which returns property values to approximately the levels seen in 2004. This may be bad news for sellers of Spanish property, but it’s good news for any person wishing to buy a permanent home or a holiday home in Spain.  In fact, in almost every property sector in Spain, as a buyer, you now have a whole host of bargain properties to choose.

As a purchasing of property in Spain, the large number of bargain properties is excellent, and they include luxury villas, townhouses, properties located along the beach, properties in the countryside, and commercial properties.  What’s even better? Sellers of Spanish property are desperate, so that means you can really negotiate for the price you want that, despite these economic times, will be an excellent long-term investment and a joy to live in.

Despite all that, a fundamental question remains: Can you safely buy in Spain?

Many of us, thanks in part to the international press, are informed about Spain’s reputation for property filled with problems.  In fact, “land grab” is a buzz phrase that immediately turns many potential buyers of Spanish property off, including foreign buyers purchasing property that’s illegal, or properties that are filled with liabilities.

But what is the truth?  The truth is that buying property in Spain can be just as safe as other places.  That said, you merely need to be knowledgeable and careful. Follow the guidelines below:

  1. Get rid of the notion that Spanish land laws are the same as for your country.  You need to be more careful and cautious about foreign land than land in your country.


  1. Get used to the fact that illegal properties in Spain do exist and that, in addition to that, many properties have potential liabilities typically connected to a possible state infrastructure project – one where you may have to pay.  Also, you should know that an infrastructure project surrounding your property could lead to you losing a part of your land.


  1. Get to know at least an outline of Spanish property law before you even attempt to buy property.  Specifically, understand what Urbanizado, Fully Urbanizado and Rural mean. Recognize these terms and understand when a property falls under any of these designations.  Knowing such terms will make the legality and the potential liabilities a lot easier to spot.


  1.  Before you even begin seeking Spanish property get yourself a good conveyancing lawyer. This process could take time, so take the time to find an excellent attorney and never let a conveyance be done for you without your attorney.  When seeking a lawyer, make sure he or she satisfies at least these characteristics – is entirely independent of the seller, developer, agent, etc.; speaks your language fluently; specializes in conveyancing; is wholly qualified which includes having public liability insurance. Furthermore, any and all advice you get from your lawyer should be in writing.


  1.  Never, ever sign a document, at any time, for any reason, for any person unless the document in question is completely and accurately translated into your language.  Furthermore, ensure that the document has been approved by your lawyer.


  1. No matter how tempting, remember that your estate agent is not your “friend.” Sure, you may become true friends in the future after the transactions are done, but while you are the person’s client, remember that his or her goal is to earn a sales commission.  Therefore, his or her advice could be biased. Know that the Spanish sales commissions can be anywhere from 3% to 18% with 5% to 10% being the median. Therefore, because such commissions, from a single sale, can equal a Spaniards national salary, the stakes for such agents are high.


  1. Before you pay anything, be sure you have a building surveyor thoroughly inspect the property. That said, you need to ensure that the surveyor is an independent agent, is thoroughly qualified, is fully insured and who speaks your language fluently.  Your surveyor needs to give you a written report of the property that includes what state it’s in as well as if there is a potential breach of planning controls and if any building licenses or building guarantees are valid and in place.


  1. It is critical that you choose the right and proper location for your Spanish property and you should be examining the potential property both during the day and at night.  It’s easy to get obsessed by other houses and by what others have, but you can’t let such an obsession prevent you from thoroughly examining and analyzing the property you’re interested in.  Here are a few things you should be asking yourself – Have you looked at the amenities and concluded that they are all there and close enough to be convenient over the long term? You’ve got a great view, but have you considered if the land in front of your potential property is non-building land?  If not, what are the chances for a new property to be built there thus obstructing your view? You should never take anything for granted when purchasing Spanish property. In fact, try to rent in the area and live there for a few months before you buy anything. A lot of people buy property in Murcia for the above reason – it’s central, beautiful and affordable


  1.  When you buy, do so with the intention of reselling the property.  After all, there will come a time when you do resell. Therefore, you need to be cognizant of any issues that may be present for the next buyer. What are examples of this? Does the property contain long stairs to get to the entrance?  If so, they may be an issue for the elderly or small children. How many bedrooms does the property have? Are there only two? Most people are seeking at least three bedrooms. Does satisfactory off-road parking exist? Parking is critical for most buyers.  Make compromises on the property you wish to buy so that when you’re ready to sell it, you’ll attract the largest section of the market.


  1. Never, ever rush when purchasing property in Spain. There’s never a need to do this because you’ll find lots of bargains in the Spanish property market. In fact, It’s always wise to pass on a great deal than buy into a mess. Sure, missing a bargain can be unfortunate, but purchasing a property that turns into a disaster is worse.


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