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New rules on unbuilt properties restore faith in Spain’s legal system

Construction on the Costa del SolAt last, I bring good news for people who paid deposits for properties that have never been built.

For those who have paid them into developers’ bank accounts, they should be refunded by the bank even if the developer is no longer trading.

And if that’s not enough, interest is paid on the deposit.

Regarding the repayment of interest on mortgages, banks are instructed by the courts to repay interest to customers whose mortgage agreement has resulted in them paying interest above the market rate.

There is good news too concerning the plusvalia tax, a capital gains tax applied by a local municipal council in addition to the one by the Autonomous Community e.g. Andalucía. Continue reading

Why taking advice when purchasing a home is always a good idea

Survey SpainAfter many years of carrying out expert witness valuations for international courts, I’ve applied to be appointed to the President of RICS’s panel of Expert Witnesses.

The training involves a new section, entitled ‘Professional Ethics for RICS Members’. It was a thought provoking course.

“Professional ethics, that should be a doddle as I’ve been dealing with such decisions all my working life,” I thought to myself.

However, after the online training, in my first question-and-answer test, I didn’t achieve the required 75% pass rate!

So, I went through the questions again and studied the ideal answers, which were all to do with conflicts of interest and respect for RICS and the client above myself and my firm.

I read through the course again and sat a different test, being delighted with the pass now that I knew the type of answers expected.

I don’t necessarily agree that these answers are practical for real life, but it’s certainly made me think.

When somebody comes to Spain wanting to buy a property for the first time, or in an area where they haven’t built a social support system, how do they select the professionals they need to work with?   Continue reading

Do you know importance of studying a home’s Energy Efficiency Certificate?

energy_efficient_homes_1212It’s worth studying the Energy Certificate as this could help you bag the best price for the home of your dreams.

For every property sale to be registered, an Energy Efficiency Certificate (CEE) must be included within all the documents.

The Regulations state that the efficiency rating must be displayed in all selling and letting promotional material and a copy of the full certificate made available to every property enquirer.

Despite that, the convention appears to be not to obtain that certificate until contracts have been signed and everyone is on their way to the notary.

I suppose it will take a few agents and owners being substantially fined for people to comply with the regulations.

Study of the energy certificate should be a part of a buyer’s consideration of a property.

In the south of Spain, the energy consumption in a house will reach two peaks: in winter when heating is required and in summer when air conditioning comes into play.

How efficient the house is in retaining heat in winter and avoiding it in summer, is what the energy certificate is all about. Continue reading

Selling your house: The importance of the home report pack

Holiday rental licences in Spain Survey SpainThe sensible used property seller can compete in the market by having a Home Report prepared that gathers all the information on their property together and offers it as one pack to buyers.

“May you live in interesting times” – Reputedly an ironic ancient Chinese curse, and certainly 2017 is likely to have many opportunities to be ‘interesting’.

Locally, we see many new properties under construction, both individual villas and apartment urbanisations.

The vast majority of these are aimed at the upper price level and we hope that all have done their marketing analysis correctly.

Certainly, many appear to be pre-sold or for individual owners, all of which is good news.

Long may it continue, though for every new property built there are still a number of older properties available.

Investigation of the market shows a definite double level, with older properties being available at often half or less per square metre compared to the new ones.

That’s the effect of everything being offered as one package to a buyer, with guarantees, though sometimes the small print of the latter needs to be read very carefully.

The sensible used property seller can compete with that by having a Home Report prepared that gathers all the information on their property together and offers it as one pack to buyers. Continue reading

Do exchange rates really affect demand?


Since that indescribably foolish day in June, agents, property pundits and others, including myself, have been blaming any apparent drop in demand by British buyers, at least partially, on the variation in the exchange rate of Pound to Euro.  Yes, there has been a drop in the pound’s value, which makes property buying in the euro zone more expensive for sterling buyers.

But hold on a sec, haven’t we been at these levels before and the demand has continued? And has demand really fallen. Dealing with the latter, undoubtedly, Survey Spain has seen a drop in the number of pre-acquisition building surveys since the beginning of the year. I feel that this can be a guide to the number of buyers who are considering purchasing a property. It slowed over the couple of months before June, dropped to almost nothing during the week after the vote, but then picked up and has continued at a lower level over the last few months. Not everyone gets their property inspected, on which they can be spending millions, but then ‘easy come, easy go’! The prudent person knows that armed with a comprehensive report on the condition of the property they can get a substantial and justifiable discount in the price. It’s a no brainer in two ways. ‘No brainer’ not to do it and a buyer shouldn’t really have to use his/her brain to see the benefits of a survey. We have so many clients who have saved many times our fee in price reduction. You’ve only to look at our testimonials page on our website to see the truth of that.  Continue reading

Floods and how to plan for them

How to protect your house from the rain in SpainI know, ‘stable doors’ and ‘horses’ come to mind…

“It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven. Upon the place beneath. It is twice blest: It blesseth him that gives and him that takes.’

So wrote Shakespeare in The Merchant of Venice. Well, there was been a little too much blessing last month. Even the crofters in the storm-tossed Western Isles of Scotland would acknowledged that we had more than ‘a wee drop of rain’ on the Costa del Sol over the first two weekends of December.

The first weekend was a welcome soaking for the parched earth and everyone, especially EcoPepe our organic farmer near Álora, was happy to see it. Continue reading

Hard facts: The lack of systems and rules in Spain’s property game is ridiculous

It's all positive news this quarter.In most northern European countries, including Scotland, but sadly not England, all sellers of properties have to provide factually correct information packs – ‘Home Reports’ – to potential buyers.

In some countries, these are prepared by state registered inspectors, whilst in others the estate agent is legally responsible for any errors or omissions.

If the packs prove to be significantly erroneous or even fraudulent, the seller can withdraw from the sale, even after they have moved into the property.

Unfortunately, it’s a completely liberated system in Spain, where nobody takes responsibility for anything and even the buyer can renege, pleading ‘in good faith’ if they didn’t check anything themselves. Property descriptions by agents on the internet and in their details, can be at best ‘mistaken’, but sometimes, either through their or the seller’s ‘optimism’, appear to be deliberately misleading. Continue reading

Not insuring your property correctly could cost you more than €30,000

auto-and-home-insurance6As an RICS registered valuers, we are constantly comparing properties in order to calculate the current market value.

These include ‘self-build’ properties that do not have decennial structural insurance.

To obtain, that involves supervision of the foundations and structure by an independent third-party specialist as they are built, and 10-year insurance against failure thereafter.

This is obligatory for promoters building on behalf of others, but it is optional if one is building a house for oneself.

However, without it, there is a restriction on sale, recorded in the title register, for 10 years from completion of the building.

A house without this insurance must be worth less than a fully supervised and insured building. Continue reading

How financially strong is your town hall?

location_locationWhy sussing out your local authority is fundamental before buying

The decision to buy a house is not just down to the attractiveness of the rooms, garden, location or general surroundings.

Consider the financial strength of the town hall, because if we compare Benahavís with Estepona, we get very different pictures.

Benahavís is reportedly one of the richest municipalities in Spain, though it doesn’t have a coastline.

How can that be? It’s because it contains so much natural advantages in south-facing slopes, tree-covered mountainsides, extensive views along the coastline and the mountain ranges towards Ronda. Continue reading

Has anything been learnt in the property game over the last 13 years?


The same issues seem to keep resurfacing.

September 18 saw the 13th anniversary of the Survey Spain website, which we take as the founding date of the business. 

Much has happened since 2003.

Looking through the old articles I’ve written over the years for newspapers and magazines, plus their transfer to website articles and then blogs, Facebook, Twitter and all, I’m struck by how little appears to have been learnt.

Article headings tell it all – ‘Why didn’t they get the property Surveyed?’, is a constant theme as so often we come across stories of ‘disasters’ that could have been avoided.

To rush forward to spend tens or hundreds of thousands and even millions, based on the word of somebody who is only being paid, and reluctantly at that, if the deal goes through, must be the height of naivety. Often it’s expressed as buying ‘in good faith’, but there are more blunt ways of expressing it too. An article I commented upon started with, ‘We spend about the same time choosing shoes or buying a suit as deciding which house to buy’. Continue reading