Buying tips from Spanish property expert Mark Stucklin
Buying a property in Spain can be a very enriching affair, both financially and in terms of enhancing your happiness and quality of life. However this will only be the case if you get the purchase right. If you get the purchase wrong you run the risk of loosing a substantial amount of money, either through capital loses or extra costs, and you could end up with a property in Spain that is nothing but a burden to you.
The following tips will help you get the purchase right:
• Always do your own research before you proceed to buy a property in Spain. This means finding out how the conveyancing process works in Spain, and identifying the main risks. It also means researching market prices for a fair idea of property prices to guide you in your decision. Buyers who fail to research the market are likely to overpay for property and take unnecessary risks.
• The dream of owning property in Spain needs to be balanced by practical considerations, so be honest with your self when deciding what kind of property you need. Wishful thinking alone will lead to poor decisions.
• Approach the purchase in a structured and organised way, and keep your wits about you at all times. Pursuing the dream of owning a property in Spain is no excuse for rash, risky decisions that you wouldn’t take at home.
• Always start by creating a clear, written brief of your property requirements to guide you search.
• Make hiring an independent, competent Spanish lawyer one of your first tasks. It is essential to avoid lawyers with conflicts of interest so never ask anyone involved in selling you property to recommend you a lawyer, and never use the in-house lawyer of an estate agent or developer.
• Try to deal with reputable companies. Investigate companies before dealing with them.
• Never sign a contract or pay a deposit before carrying out an appropriate due diligence and getting the all clear from your lawyer. Due diligence varies according to circumstances, but in general never buy a resale property unless it is accurately described in notarised title deeds and is free of debts and encumbrances. When buying off-plan always make sure that a building licence has been granted by the town hall, that your stage payments are guaranteed, and that the contract you sign is watertight. Never sign deeds for an off-plan property until the first occupancy licence (licencia de primera ocupación) has been granted.
• Retain a healthy sense of scepticism about the claims people make whilst trying to sell you property. This is especially true of the claims being made about off-plan investments. Never invest in off-plan property unless you have the funds to cope with a worst-case scenario.
• Never allow yourself to be pressurised into a decision.
• Always make sure your financial position is clear before paying a deposit. Failure to do so could result in you loosing your deposit.
• Make sure you understand your fiscal obligations once you have purchased property in Spain. Property taxes in Spain are low but if you fail to pay them there is a risk that your property will be confiscated and sold off to pay them.
Mark Stucklin runs www.spanishpropertyinsight.com-an independent, property information website that provides overseas buyers with insight into the Spanish property market, and advice on how to purchase in Spain. He also writes the Spanish Property Doctor column for The Sunday Times.