Sunday, February 13, 2011

Spanish property, safe to buy?

Spanish property, safe to buy?



So, Beatriz Corredor – the Spanish housing minister is appealing for British buyers to return to Spain!


And there are going to be changes to the planning laws to make buying property in Spain clearer for us poor, stupid foreigners.

Gosh, gosh – I am impressed!

Indeed, Beatriz is urging us Britons (according to the UK Telegraph) to: “Come here calmly, and trust in the system that we have and the transparency we provide.”

Oh dear…and it was all going so well, up until that point.

Of course, it is the ‘transparency’ bit that will make some of us ‘old hands’ laugh – and despair.  Transparency is one thing that is rare in Spain and is the cause of a good deal of the trouble with buying property in Spain safely.  Well – that and incompetent lawyers combined with endemic corruption.

Still, on one level, it is encouraging to see that the national government has finally recognised that the great British Spanish property buying public are important.  Indeed, it even looks as though the Spanish government believe that these same good people need protecting.

Wow!  The dots are clearly being joined up, at last – which is extraordinary news.

After all the Spanish have treated the foreign Spanish property buying public with utter contempt for years.  If you doubt the latter, just check out somewhere like Marbella (see Meltdown in Marbella) or any one of the multitude of property scandals that have been swamping the international media for years and years.  None of this seems to have percolated up to national government or, if it has, then it has been ignored in the belief that you can treat all foreign buyers like fools – all of the time.

Meanwhile, amazingly (as far as I can find out) there is not even a national government department dedicated to promoting Spain as somewhere in which to buy property – let alone one making sure that the ‘geese with the golden eggs” coming to Spain are protected!

Can you believe this – given the vital importance to the Spanish economy of the Spanish construction industry and income from foreigners?

Needless to say, there is the tourist department (obviously) but when I spoke to their London office last year they said they had nothing to do with promoting the sale of property in Spain and there was no department responsible for doing so.  Almost unbelievable…

Of course, I welcome any changes to the planning laws that make buying Spanish property safer.  After all, I have written a book on the subject (How to Move Safely to Spain) and even I weary of banging on about how Spain can be safe to buy in – but only if you approach the buying process with the opposite mentality (i.e. prima facie it is not!).

So, will the new planning laws make any difference?

I do not know the detail – so, I will have to get back to you once I know more (dreading the thought that it may only be ‘window-dressing’).

However, one thing is for sure and that is unless the national government actually makes sure any law passed is enforced - then any Spanish government reassurance will be worthless.  This point is well made by the well known campaigner Charles Svoboda who, in the same Telegraph article, trenchantly states that:  “The government in Madrid can give all the assurances it wants, but without it enforcing the laws nothing will ever change.”

Absolutely – just check out the Ley de Costas for a law that has not been enforced or has been enforced so erratically that no-one knows whether they are really safe, or not, buying property in Spain close to the sea.

What needs to be done?

Well, quite a lot – to put it mildly.

Certainly, amongst many other matters, I would recommend:

1.      A general amnesty to all but the most dreadful/dangerous existing illegal properties.
2.      Instant demolition of any property erected that was illegal after the amnesty.
3.      Compulsory use of a conveyancing lawyer by any non-Spanish national buying property in Spain.
4.      An extremely stringent duty of care imposed upon conveyancing lawyers with a fast, effective and cheap recourse for any negligence or conflicts of interest – backed by stingingly brutal sanctions.
5.      A duty of care imposed upon Notarios to ensure, in writing, that a foreign buyer understood exactly what he was buying and any legal implications and liabilities thereon – and a refusal to allow the signing of the deeds without the foreign buyer being represented by an independent lawyer.

I am curious as to what you think?


Spanish housing minister appeals to British buyers to return.

10 key factors to buying Spanish property safely

Spanish property – another nail in the coffin

Spanish property – Rural a vitally important term

Urbanizado – a vital classification of land that you must know

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