Property: The terrain in Spain

The country is back in favour. Felicity Cannell examines the property market

THE BRITISH sun-lover looking for a holiday refuge in Spain has two countries to choose from. There is English-speaking Spain, centred in the coastal resorts where you can bank at Barclays and drink in pubs. And there is the rest of the country.

The former is still more popular: "The majority of visitors and property buyers are still going for the sun, sea, sand and sangria," says Roger Faulks, of Spanish Property News. "But there is increasing interest in the `real Spain', to use the guide book jargon, which still exists inland."

But in 10 years' time, the southern inland villages may be just as full of foreigners as the coast. The younger generation are moving to the coast to find work and selling up their family homes.

Buyers of inland property may have to be prepared for a mammoth renovation job. Wessex Homes is selling a cortijo - farmhouse - in the Almanzora valley of Andalusia for around pounds 12,000. It is described as a ruin with no electricity. You can buy water from a nearby well by buying a share in the well for another pounds 5,000. To compensate, it does have excellent views.

If renovation does not appeal there are still plenty of homes for sale on the Costas, where prices are starting to recover after the severe crash in the early 1990s. Prices fell more dramatically than in the UK and developers simply downed tools and left. Now, on the Costa Blanca and the Costa del Sol in particular there is a shortage of quality accommodation.

Karen Poland, of Marbella Costa Real Estate, says the impending European single currency has contributed to the recovery. "The market is very buoyant. Citizens of countries going into EMU who have cash to get rid of are buying here."

Although prices are rising again, Mr Faulks believes there are still bargains to be had: "Since the recovery, the market is all over the place. No one knows exactly what their property is worth until it is sold. The shortage does not affect prices as it would in the UK. "

Hand in hand with rising prices is the increase of buy-to-let investors - with a difference. They buy for investment but use the property for a few weeks' holiday a year. Ms Poland says: "Owners hand them over to us to rent out for the rest of the year. A two-bedroom apartment can fetch between pounds 400 and pounds 600 per week during July and August. At the very minimum, outgoings are covered with an income on top." This sort of rental can be achieved whether your apartment costs pounds 70,000 or pounds 120,000, as long as it is a short stroll to the beach without having to cross a motorway.

Location is everything. With very little beach front land left for development, such property is at a premium. Drive a few miles into the hills and you will be looking at "country" property at considerably lower prices. But if you are prepared to take your farm labourer's cottage in the hills, you may not feel totally isolated. A considerable amount of EU funding is pouring into the Spanish road network. "Motorways are being extended and facilities are increasing. Fifteen minutes inland you can get a huge plot of land and build your own villa for a fraction of the price on the coast," says Ms Poland.

If a site already has a building, albeit a ruin, you have automatic building rights. Wessex Homes estimates building costs at Ptas50,000 (pounds 200) per square metre, depending on materials. But whatever you choose, buy in pesetas. Agents are making great play of the pound's strength, but if you buy in sterling you will get no benefit.

It is vital to understand how the property-buying system works in Spain before you sign to buy a home. Get a copy of The Complete Guide to Buying a Property in Spain, by Anthony Foster, an estate agent in Andalusia. He wrote the book after seeing numerous disastrous transactions over the years. As Spain began to exploit the British love of sunshine, horror stories abounded of unscrupulous developers and private vendors. Many holiday villa purchasers arrived for their first holiday to find nothing but foundations and a bankrupt development company.

Under Spanish law debts are registered to a property rather than an individual and you may become liable for the previous owner's mortgage. If you are buying an ancient farmhouse that has been passed down through one family for generations it may not have an escritura, or title deed, and when you come to sell it this will cause problems.

All non-residents are subject to an annual wealth tax and when you sell your property the government will retain 10 per cent in case money is owed by you in tax, rates or capital gains. After deductions the money will be returned to you - but only if you ask for it. Properties bought before December 1986 are no longer liable for this retention.

This all sounds complicated but it is straightforward compared with home buying in the UK, according to Alan Simmons who has bought and sold in Spain twice. "The beauty of the system is you know where you are from the moment you decide on a property. It becomes a binding contract very quickly and there is no gazumping." Instead of using a lawyer, he gave power of attorney to the estate agent and when he arrived on holiday, "it was simply a matter of signing on the dotted line."

A reputable Spanish estate agent should be registered to one of the official bodies controlling estate agency. Using the agent to draw up the contract may be sufficient for a second-hand or fully constructed property but not if you are buying a plot of land, or in a development under construction.

Mr Foster strongly advises using an English-speaking Spanish lawyer for these deals. If you choose to buy from England through a property company specialising in Spain they will often have a lawyer to recommend. But even if you go to Spain it is not hard to find a lawyer. It helps to speak some Spanish so that you can negotiate more effectively and you are not left with a huge and unexpected bill. Mr Simmons was advised to use a lawyer to recover the pounds 4,800 retention on the apartment he sold last year. "I don't speak Spanish and there was form after form to fill in. The abogado recovered nearly all of it. But his fee amounted to nearly pounds 2,000!"

q Contacts: `Spanish Property News', 0181-297 9194; Marbella Costa Real Estate, 00 3495 283 1586; Wessex Homes, 01903 231080.

`The Complete Guide to Buying a Property in Spain', by Anthony Foster, is available at pounds 14.95 from Property Search Spain on 01223 462244.

Popular regions such as Andalusia combine sand with `real Spain'


Actress sees off speculation about her appearance in an amazing way

Arts and Entertainment
Serge Pizzorno of Kasabian and Noel Fielding backstage at the Teenage Cancer Trust concerts
musicKasabian and Noel Fielding attack 'boring' musicians
videoWatch Lynda Bellingham's tragic final Loose Women appearance
Arts and Entertainment
The last great picture - Winner 'Black and White' and overall 'Wildlife Photographer of the Year'

Arts and Entertainment
High notes, flat performance: Jake Bugg

Review: Despite an uphill climb to see Jake Bugg in action, his performance is notably flat

The Putin automaton will go on sale next month in Germany
videoMusical Putin toy showing him annexing Crimea could sell for millions

Powerful images of strays taken moments before being put down

Arts and Entertainment
S Club 7 pose for Children in Need 2001
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
'Right Here' singer Jess Glynne is nominated for Best Newcomer at the MOBO Awards 2014
musicExclusive: Jess Glynne hits out at 'ridiculous' criticism of white artists nominated for Mobo Awards
'Irritatingly Disneyfied': fashion vlogger Zoella

Arts and Entertainment
Russell Brand has written a book of political analysis called Revolution

Review: Witty banalities aside, the comedian has an authentic voice

Arts and Entertainment
Separated at birth? Frank Sivero (left) claims The Simpsons based Mafia character Louie on his Goodfellas character
arts + entsFrank Sivero sues Simpsons studio over allegedly basing mobster character on Frank Carbone
Carl Bernstein (left) and Bob Woodward (right) with former 'Washington Post' executive editor Ben Bradlee

The Washington Post editor helped Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein bring down President Nixon

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Birmingham - Real Staffing

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: The SThree group is a world le...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant Birmingham

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Comission: SThree: The SThree group is a world lea...

Trainee Recruitment Consultants

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £Competitive: SThree: SThree Group and have be...

Helpdesk Analyst

£23000 per annum + pension and 22 days holiday: Ashdown Group: An established ...

Day In a Page

Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals

'You need me, I don’t need you'

Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals
How to Get Away with Murder: Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama

How to Get Away with Murder

Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama
A cup of tea is every worker's right

Hard to swallow

Three hospitals in Leicester have banned their staff from drinking tea and coffee in public areas. Christopher Hirst explains why he thinks that a cuppa is every worker's right
Which animals are nearly extinct?

Which animals are nearly extinct?

Conservationists in Kenya are in mourning after the death of a white northern rhino, which has left the species with a single male. These are the other species on the brink
12 best children's shoes

Perfect for leaf-kicking: 12 best children's shoes

Find footwear perfect to keep kids' feet protected this autumn
Anderlecht vs Arsenal: Gunners' ray of light Aaron Ramsey shines again

Arsenal’s ray of light ready to shine again

Aaron Ramsey’s injury record has prompted a club investigation. For now, the midfielder is just happy to be fit to face Anderlecht in the Champions League
Comment: David Moyes' show of sensitivity thrown back in his face by former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson

Moyes’ show of sensitivity thrown back in his face... by Ferguson

Manchester United legend tramples on successor who resisted criticising his inheritance
Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2015

UK city beats Vienna, Paris and New York to be ranked seventh in world’s best tourist destinations - but it's not London