Learn about the possibilities and pitfalls of buying a Spanish property. Practical guidelines and advice about the Valencia land grab law, as well as demolition orders.
There are many choices when buying a house in Spain, as well as many pitfalls. Pay attention to cultural and legal differences. Buying a holiday apartment in a high-rise development might be extremely noisy, whereas a house in an urbanisation usually means there is an enticing shared pool and garden area and therefore a steep annual charge for the upkeep, on top of the price of the property.
A villa (detached house) or cortijo (small farmhouses which may consist of as little as 2 rooms) in the beautiful rolling countryside may not have easy access and would require a 4-wheel drive (SUV). Many of these more rural houses in Spain do not have a piped water supply. Regular deliveries of water from a bowser then have to be stored for domestic use.
Guidelines When Buying a Spanish Property
Always use a lawyer, despite anything the estate agent may say.
Do not use the same lawyer as the person selling the house. Although it may be cheaper the lawyer will have a conflict of interest.
Your lawyer should check that there are no outstanding rates or a mortgage on the house. Under Spanish law the buyer would then become responsible for those debts.
Ensure that you have a private contract drawn up between yourself and the seller which includes the purchase price, deposit (usually 10%), and the date on which you can move into the house. If there are any special conditions, include them in the contract.
The final deed is signed at a notary’s office and this is when the keys are handed over and taxes are paid. (Budget on 10% of the purchase price to cover all taxes and fees.)
The lawyer then lodges the deed with the Land Registry where the ownership is officially changed and new owner’s name is noted. Only then is the house the legal property of the buyer.
Land Grab in Valencia Province
LRAU is a law created with the best intentions, in 1994, to release land for agricultural development. However, the law has been misused in such a way that up to 70% of agricultural land may be expropriated by the council despite ownership by the tenant. Although the EU has called for an end to the practice, cases are still appearing in the media.
Properties built illegally by corrupt developers without applying for planning permission, are liable to receive demolition orders. New developments are the most likely to be at risk.
Houses in Spain
Although Spain is a large country with a diverse landscape Southern Spain does have the best climate, with more than 300 days of sunshine a year . This attracts a steady rise in the numbers of foreigners settling happily along the 100 miles (160 kms) of developed coastline. The most expensive areas are from Malaga to Marbella and the surrounding areas, including the Costa del Sol. Further inland in Andalucia prices are generally lower although Spanish property prices have tended to increase approximately 20 % each year over the past few years. At one time foreigners were able to buy ruined houses on a reasonable piece of land for a very small sum of money. They would then rebuild the house without needing to obtain planning permission. There are not many of those bargains left now, as the local people have become more sophisticated in their dealings with outsiders.2015-09-25