How to Buy Spanish PropertyAs I have written innumerable times, you can buy property in Spain safely – or end up buying a Spanish property that is illegal or one that may be subject to very expensive infrastructure works (for which you will have to pay!).  Equally, if you do not know what you are doing you may actually lose a part of your plot or simply buy a property that has been poorly built.

Sadly, a significant number of people buy Spanish properties only to find that they have bought a ‘pig in the poke’!  Given the amount (financially and emotionally) that is at stake this can be a disaster – although one that was, almost invariably, completely avoidable.

So what are the common reasons for buying a defective property in Spain?

1.  Ignorance.  Often foreign buyers of Spanish property really believe that the operation of the land law in Spain is the same as in their own country.  Well, it is not!  So, understand that simple fact and take nothing for granted.  Do your research on Spanish housing before you start looking for property and understand how things ‘work’ in Spain (it is not ‘rocket science’ but is critically important!). Know the pitfalls to buying Spanish property and know what to watch out for.

2.  Too trusting.  Your estate agent in Spain is not your ‘friend’.  He may earn as much as 18% sales commission (more commonly 5% – 10%) on the property he is showing you.  So, you and any purchase you make represents a huge amount of income to him – 5% on 300,000 Euros is 15,000 Euros (and a half decent annual salary in Spain).  Double check everything you are told.

3.  Signing documents without legal advice.  This is a classic error and made worse when a document signed is written in a language not understood fluently. Never sign any document, anywhere, for anyone unless it is properly translated into your own language and expressly approved by your lawyer.

4.  Not buying a property as a ‘re-seller’.  Only ever buy a property that is easy to re-sell because. at some stage, you will be a seller of the property you are buying.  Are there things about the property that will put off the majority of buyers now or in the future (steep steps up or down to the front door etc.)?   Know what the majority of the market wants – whether for flats, town houses or villas – and buy within those parameters.  Any industry professional will know the parameters (although they may not tell you, if it endangers an easy sale for them!) and they are surprisingly narrow.

5.  Using a poor lawyer.  If you do not use a lawyer for your conveyancing (some people do not!!) then you deserve every problem that you will get.  However, Spanish lawyers are not always effective, so always us a lawyer with all the following attributes – one that is a specialist conveyancing lawyer who is independent of all other parties, speaks your language fluently and who has a high public liability insurance policy.

Of course, there are other common problems (not using a proper building surveyor before you buy, being one!) but do not fall into the mistakes above.

Be wise, knowledgeable and careful.   Know what you are doing and you can buy property in Spain safely – and live the dream or have a fabulous holiday home in Spain for years to come…

Written by Nick Snelling author of ‘How to Buy Spanish Property and Move to Spain – Safely’ and other books about Spain.  Nick also runs a highly regarded, authority information site at Culture Spain for all things Spanish.

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