Monday, September 29, 2008

Banco de Santander Success Story

Banco de Santander has developed from a small regional bank to become one of the major players in European banking and the biggest bank in Spain over the last few years. It has now decided that it wants to dominate the European scene, starting with the UK, as it does the Spanish banking scene. In Spain where Santander goes the other banks soon follow and it seems that they have started to open the tap to new mortgages, a tap that has been closed now for almost a year. Expect other Spanish banks to follow.

Banco De Santander HQ in Sao Paulo

So what made the Santander strong in the current market? Spanish banks never bought into toxic debt to the same extent as other European banks as they were too busy being parochial in Spain by funding developers here, hence the huge construction boom of recent times, and also they looked to Argentina and other Spanish speaking South American countries as well as Portuguese speaking Brazil to develop their brands in new markets. So busy were they that when all of the newly repackaged toxic debt from the States was offered they didn't even bother looking at it. So now they are cash rich and picking up good deals like Abbey, Alliance and Leicester and Bradford and Bingley in a sort of Buffett way, buying in at the best time.

So why is the Spanish housing market dropping so much, just like the UK market? The major reason that transactions in Spain are down 26% this year is the lack of availability of credit. The 33% drop in mortgages given out is one of the proofs of that. People still want to buy but cannot because of the restrictions on lending and therefore the market in dropping in price bringing in even more people who want to buy. Obviously there is an oversupply of two bed two bathroom flats in coastal areas but the latent demand for the larger conurbations (Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia, Seville, Bilbao) is still there as the population grows year on year and rural depopulation increases as people look for opportunities in the cities. If the Santander open the taps again expect the Spanish market in the major towns and cities to perk up, especially if, and that is a big if currently, it coincides with a drop in interest rates from the European Central Bank.

So what will be the next target for Santander in the UK and when will the Competition Commission start looking into their adquisitions?

Friday, September 26, 2008

Art Exhibition in Barcelona tonight

If you happen to be around Barcelona you can go to a great exhibition this evening of work by Lynda Cookson and you can also meet a load of Catalan based Ecademists. Here is what Simon Harris says about the meeting.

Ecademy Catalunya is having its first meet-up at Sala Barna, C/ Sant Eusebi, 57 at 8pm on Friday 26th September. Lynda Cookson is holding an exhibition of her scrumptious paintings there, and although it's a bit early for this part of the world, the gallery closes (in theory) at 9pm, so we need to get together before then. The idea is a meet-up and not a meeting, so it's going to be informal and relaxed.

So a good chance to see a great exhibition, have a good chinwag and get to know a bit of Barcelona that maybe you wouldn't otherwise without a local guide.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Leave the key under the rug and put the cat out.

I have read so many negative blogs about the situation in the UK today due to banking failures in the States and the stock market plummeting that it surprises me that there is anyone left in the country. Why don't you just leave and join the exodus? So anyway, if anyone wants to come and join us here in Valencia please make sure to bring a few things.

1) The intention to learn the language
2) A positive can do attitude
3) Respect for the culture of the country even if that means putting up with goats been thrown from towers etc...
4) Money. Two years of it minimum so that you have time to learn the language and set up a business you can be proud of.
5) An intention to add something to where you are. Remember givers gain.

We will be delighted to help you.

Referring back to my blog last week on Ecademy and to my podcast from the weekend which you can listen to below have a look at the positivity pouring out of the first and the news from Valencia and Spain too. It is not all doom and gloom. If you still decide you want to go then get in touch, ask me about anything regarding living in Spain or particularly Valencia and start planning your future. Remember you do have a choice. Sit back and let the media batter you into following the crowd into a recession or get off your touche and do something to make your life better.

(The photo refers to a house newly reduced to 345000 Euros to live the good life in Turis. Stunning place reeduced because the owners have moved back to Buenos Aires and need some cash. See it here)

Monday, September 15, 2008

Must know info taken from The Times

The article copied below from the Times newspaper is useful to know especially if you already have a house bought through us or other agents in the past. For people wishing to purchase now it is also useful to know if you are not going to be resident.

The document is easy to get hold of but if you receive a letter informing you of your need to produce it then make sure you plan a quick getaway so you can get yourself down to the ploice station and get it or if you have Powers of Attorney with a lawyer make sure that the lawyer does it for you.

All clients of Valencia Property who have a mortgage have this document as a matter of course as it is a requirement for opening a bank account and the bank itself asked for it before.

"Owners of Spanish property could lose their homes if they fail to produce new identification documents proving their non-resident status.

Britons who use their overseas accounts to pay for their Spanish mortgages and essentials such as utility services and council taxes, have been required by Spanish banks to produce a residence certificate or “Residencia” since March last year.

Failure to produce the new documents could result in bank accounts being frozen and mortgage repayments stopped.

However, some Spanish banks have failed to contact homeowners or given short notice to produce the papers.

One reader, Simon Wells, 52, from Walthamstow, east London, said that on August 15 he was told by his Spanish bank, Cajamar, to produce the documents by September 15.

“This is not easy to do as you have to register in person at a Spanish police station and then have it stamped by a town hall official. We were warned our account could be frozen.”

The requirement is part of an EU initiative to crack down on tax dodgers. Spanish residents are taxed at source, so to avoid paying tax there you have to prove non-residence status.

Britons — there are about 145,000 with bank accounts and properties in Spain, said broker Savills Private Finance — have to declare gains made in Spanish bank accounts to the UK taxman.

You qualify for non-resident status in Spain if you spend fewer than 180 days a year in the country and are able to produce the new document.

Anyone who bought a property before the new rules came into effect may be asked by their Spanish bank to produce the Residencia. Those who bought property after they were introduced will have been told of the requirement.

Residence certificates include your name, address, nationality, date of registration and the “Numero de Identificacion de Extranjeros”, a tax number for foreigners in Spain.

The Spanish Tourism Office said: “If you have a Spanish property, and have not been asked to produce this document, I suggest you contact your bank directly.”

Homeowners can contact the Spanish Ministry of the Interior’s immigration directorate helpline for more advice on 00 34 91 363 9071.

To apply for the non-residency certificate you usually need to go in person to the Oficina de Extranjeros or police station in your province of residence.

The document costs about €10-€13, although if you go through a lawyer you may have to pay more than ¤120 (£97.20)."

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Fourth Podcast Links

I have just recorded the fourth in the series of podcasts that I have done. This analyses the current situation in Spain and Valencia, has info about some great deals on rentals and sales and tells you more about reasons to live here. Within it I mention some links and here they are.

Of course we also have mentioned a few times and our mail address at for more info on any aspect of the podcast. You can subscribe to the series in iTunes using VPAudio in your search. The raw feed is here Download the MP3 directly into your iTunes player and listen to my dulcet tones again. You also have the option to subscribe for future podcasts of which there will be many.

PS; I forgot to metion that Mdonna plays in Valencia next week. How many people will go to see the recently turned 50 superstar?

Thursday, September 11, 2008

An Afternoon Out Walking Around Olocau

Today i decided that it was hot and sunny, I was too tired to stare at a PC all afternoon and it was time to make sure i got some exercise and air after the World not ending on Wednesday in Geneva.

So I went out with a packed lunch for a walk in the mountains around the picturesque village of Olocau, my favourite place around here. Anyway here are some photos, the walk was hot, sweaty and just over an hour and a half accompanied by an MP3 recording of a marketing book and my thoughts.

My legs are now totally jellified and obviously the worst bit was dropping down into Olocau as the brakes needed to be applied liberally. Enjoy the photos.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Hola Valencia

If you want to see some great photgraphy and read about some interesting places in Valencia then go to this page and have a look Excellent references to everything happening in Valencia. Things to do, things to see and things seen.

A Question Well Answered

I put a question up on Linkedin, if you don't know it it is a sort of grown up Facebook! Here it is;

What is the single most important thing that an estate agent can do to attract you to purchase a property?

Anyway I had some great answers but one stood out because it meant research not just a gut feeling. It came from Colin Gorvett and this was the answer.

"I asked this question of my office this morning; and the top 5 things they believed their clients (purchasers) required of them were:
1. Positive/reassuring attitude
2. Knowledge - of the market, neighbourhood, and industry
3. Interest in the purchaser and their needs
4. Understanding of the possibilities and options of improvement to a property
5. Punctuality and respect of the client"

Colin has a real estate agency in Cape Town, South Africa being a Consultant at PRO-PROP Property Consultants. He shares with me, and it seems his office does too, the ethos that we have here. First seek to understand the needs of the client and then work from there to help as much as possible.

With all the negativity associated with being an estate agent it is good to know that others see things in the same way. To see all of the answers go here

Thanks a lot Colin and hopefully if anyone who reads this blog is coming your way they will keep you in mind. Here is Colin's link
PRO-PROP Property Consultants Cape Town
PRO-PROP is an innovative property consultancy based in Cape Town, South Africa.

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