10 Tips on Buying in Spain

1. Always use an independent lawyer

2. If the deal looks too good to be true it probably is

3. Always obtain planning permission before building

4. If buying off-plan, negotiate penalties for late completion

5. Try and look at a builder’s previous works

6. Seek the advice of other residents if buying into a development

7. Remember the sun when considering glass buildings

8. Resolve a property’s title or boundary ‘issues’ prior to completion

9. Spain is safe but consider security if vacating the property for long spells

10. Always make an offer. The days of rush buying are long gone

Location, Agent, Lawyer

The age old slogan “location, location, location” does not apply to Spanish property, according to Paolo Bonanni from Savills/Select Resorts. ‘The maxim I would apply when buying overseas is, Location, Agent, Lawyer.’

Location

The word location has a double meaning when it comes to overseas property investment ? location of the country and location of the property. Once you have decided that Spain is the right location to invest (suitable climate, culture and language) you have to find the right property location within Spain. If you are looking for a holiday house consider accessibility (Ryanair currently flies to Santander, Santiago de Compostela, Valladolid, Seville, Gerona, Reus, Zaragoza, Valencia, Jerez, Murcia, Granada, Almeria and Madrid but there’s nothing stopping them from discontinuing a service), facilities, attractions and security and compare prices of properties in the area.

Agent

The agent marketing the property should be a prime consideration, particularly if you are buying from a property developer. ‘A good, reputable agent will have done his homework and checked out the project before marketing it,’ says Mr Bonani, ‘A good agent will let you see a copy of a contract prior to commitment and explain the buying process’.

Lawyer

It is important you choose a good lawyer to represent your interests, someone you find easy to communicate with. ‘If you use a lawyer from your home country, he generally instructs another lawyer in the country where the property is situated, which means that potentially you are paying for two lawyers,’ Mr Bonanni explains, ‘My advice would be to use an independent lawyer in the country where you are buying who speaks your language. You should locate one personally, or be given a choice of two or three by your agent or developer. It goes without saying that this should not be the same lawyer that the developer is using.’

Facts and Figures

Properties in the south of Spain are on average three times cheaper than those in the south of France. It is impossible to predict exactly what the return will be but in recent years house prices have risen substantially. According to property experts, prices are rising fastest in Valencia; 6.1% compared to 3.7% in the first quarter of 2006. Houses in this area are still cheaper than in Barcelona and Madrid, offering added incentive to investors.

Where to buy

In search of rural Spain

Jon Clarke, who runs Andalucía Exclusive recommends looking for places off the beaten track such as Ecija and Osuna, as well as Coripe, Alcala la Real, Aracena and Cazalla de la Sierra. ‘In each of these towns you can still find an excellent stock of stunning, authentic old properties available for conversion to modern living.’

Arta, Mallorca

Thought to be the oldest inhabited part of Mallorca, this charming village boasts a fascinating 13th century church and the bronze-age Talayot de Ses Paises ruins. Although a surge of new villas and hotels has altered the appearance of the village, there are many beautiful and unspoilt hamlets dotting the nearby coast.

Arcos de la Frontera, Andalucia

Precariously balanced on top of a limestone ridge, Arcos is one of Andalucia’s most stunningly positioned white villages. In 1962 it was declared a national monument ensuring its whitewashed houses and stone castle walls have been well-preserved.

Axarquia, Granada

Axarquia is a rural area, scattered with white-washed mountain villages. Although services around Axarquia are well-developed the area has a low-key family orientated feel with plenty of small resorts and unspoilt hamlets.

Córdoba

Once a port city of great significance, Córdoba was founded by the Romans and later became the centre of Islamic Spain. As well as the world-famous Mezquita Moorish mosque, Córdoba is graced with a wealth of historic buildings, monuments and museums. With its history of Flamenco dancing and bull fighting Cordoba is considered one of the liveliest Andalusian towns.

Costa de la Luz, Huelva

The Costa de la Luz in Huelva Province runs from the Guadiana river on the Portuguese border to the Guadalquivir river in the east. The surrounding Atlantic coastline boasts long, unspoilt sandy beaches backed by pine woods and sand dunes with many protected coastal reserves. Small fishing resorts scatter the shoreline, separated by marshes and estuaries. Costa de la Luz still offers virgin beaches, particularly around the Playa de Castilla running alongside the Parque Nacional de Donaña – a 25km-long stretch that is only accessible on foot.

Frigiliana, Malaga

Voted the ‘prettiest village in Andalucía’ by the Spanish tourism authority, Frigiliana also boasts an interesting history. The steep-sided El Fuerte provides a picturesque backdrop to the village and was the scene of the final bloody defeat of the Moors of La Axarquía in 1569. The village is a tangle of narrow cobbled streets lined by whitewashed houses with wrought iron balconies and red geraniums. Small plazas provide shady seating and the village bars are perfect for enjoying an ice-cold cerveza.

La Herradura, Costa Tropical

Less well known than its popular neighbour, the Costa del Sol, the Costa Tropical’s beaches still retain plenty of Spanish character, with spectacular cliffs, secluded coves and sand beaches. La Herradura is a popular water sports resort situated in a secluded bay within easy reach of Malaga. The area has many excellent restaurants and a beautiful marina (Marina del Este).

Seville

Founded by Hercules – according to legend ? Seville is one of the largest historical centre in Europe and Spain’s third largest city. Both Romans and Moors have made their mark on the town, known universally for its feria, Flamenco and bull fighting.

Spain Stats

Capital: Madrid

Monarch: King Juan Carlos I

Prime Minister: José Luis Rodriguez Zapatero

Land mass: 505,992 Km sq

Population: 44,395,286

Currency: Euro

Recommended reading:

Buying Property in Spain

Mark Stucklin (Collins, £8.99)

A practical guide full of authoritative advice on where, how and what to buy, with an overview of the Spanish market, by COUNTRY LIFE contributor, Mark Stucklin who runs Spanish Property Insight
the independent property information website.