What are the risks and rewards

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What are the risks and rewards

Buying Property in Spain: Risks and Rewards Updated 25 Oct For many aspiring expats and emigrees, buying a property in Spain represents a dream that will provide them with either the perfect holiday home or a new life in a country justifiably famous for its superb quality of life.

After all, what could be better than living in a country with a wonderfully benign climate, a friendly and tolerant population, an intact culture and an al fresco life that lasts for much of the year?

Add to this a services infrastructure that is well developed, an accessible language, quick and efficient communications to Europe and political stability - and you have somewhere that is ideal for retirement or holidays.

However, there are pitfalls to buying property in Spain which can swiftly turn any dream into a nightmare! So, the question is: This is a question that is, arguably, more important now than ever before, as foreign buyers seek to take advantage of the collapse in Spanish property prices.

These have dropped massively since the height of the boom inand have resulted in a sea of bargains, with some properties in Spain having dropped in value by as much as 40 percent.

For the first time in many years, Spanish property has become affordable again with some properties now offering truly extraordinary value for money.

The first thing to appreciate is that you can buy Spanish property safely!

Pump-and-Dump Schemes

The key, of course, is knowledge. Before you think of buying Spanish property, make sure you know what you are doing, and are familiar with the way to buy property in Spain. Never think that the process of buying property in Spain is the same as for your own country.

EU law is not identical in all EU member-states, so do not come to Spain thinking that the way things are done in the UK or Denmark, for example, is same for Spain. Laws may be similar, but not the same. So be far more cautious than you would be in your own country: Understand an outline of Spanish property law.

You must understand the distinction between Urbanizado, fully Urbanizado and Rural before you think of buying in Spain. These designations define to a large extent the nature of the property you intend to buy, and whether the property is likely to be legal and free of potential state-imposed liabilities.

Urbanizado crudely means building land — somewhere that can be built upon, subject to compliance with planning regulations.

Fully Urbanizado is when all infrastructure works have been completed which you may otherwise have to pay for! Rural means agricultural land, and if land falls in this category there are very significant constraints that restrict what can and cannot be built, and the size of what can be constructed.

Always use a conveyancing lawyer. It is astonishing how many people do not use a lawyer for their purchase of Spanish property, and instead use an estate agent or other unqualified person. This course of action can have devastating consequences. That said, if you make the informed decision of using a lawyer, then make sure that you use a lawyer who speaks your language fluently, is independent of the seller and any estate agent, is registered with the Colegio de Abogados and has significant public liability insurance some have very low cover.

What are the risks and rewards

Finally, make sure that all advice provided is in writing and keep a copy. Sadly, the standard of legal practice in Spain is generally often poor, and is notable for conflicts of interest and sloppy practice.

So, make sure that you spend time to obtain the best possible lawyer — before you start looking at properties. Never sign anything unless your lawyer is present and it is translated into your language.

This may seem obvious, but people repeatedly sign documents without fully understanding their meaning.

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Your estate agent is not your friend, he is a salesman. Never confuse your relationship with an estate agent, and never let him become involved in the conveyancing of your intended property. Every agent is a salesman with one aim, and that is to gain a sales commission.

The latter can be very high in Spain up to 18 percent! Indeed, your sale may represent, in sales commission to the agent concerned, more than an average Spanish salary.

So, turn to objective professionals such as lawyers and surveyorsfor all advice and investigations. Always use a building surveyor before you buy a house.Financial Rewards of Retiring Abroad.

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