Dangers of the Spanish property market

The Guardian printed a full-page article yesterday about the Spanish property market with some startling figures that underline what we always advise to the thousands of users who write to us with questions about buying a house in Spain.

Anyone intending to purchase a property in this country is advised to first visit the site or house, then pay for the services of one of the many reputable lawyers in Spain (see lawyers fees in Spain) to check out all the legalities PRIOR TO SIGNING ANY DOCUMENTS REGARDING THE SALE and also, of course, before handing over any money.

According to the Spanish Agency for Holiday Homes quoted by the Guardian, Britons currently buy 50.000 houses in Spain each year and a group of Spanish companies specialising in homes for the elderly estimate that 226,000 British, 135,000 German and 35,000 Scandinavians are living here.

However, more and more stories of people buying properties in Spain do not have a happy ending. The Valencian LRAU law has made many properties vulnerable to possible seizure, as has the illegal construction of thousands of houses up and down the Spanish costas. According to the Guardian, a councillor of Alhama (a Murcian village with just 17,000 inhabitants where property developers plan to build 55,000 new homes and no less than 8 golf courses), has suggested that the area’s biggest developer, Polaris World, has a London sales office where it is already selling unbuilt houses belonging to developments which have still not received full planning permission (although, in this case, they are expected to receive permission).

And, the paper quotes the case of one British couple who have spent all their savings on a new home in Elche, but now risk having it demolished because the town hall says it was put up illegally by the builder they bought it from.

There are many reasons for living in Spain, but buying a house here is not as straightforward as it may seem and it is essential for buyers to get professional advice to prevent their dream home from going horribly wrong.