Wednesday, 25 August 2010
Buying Property in Spain
Every year many thousands of properties in Spain are sold to foreign investors. What is the attraction? Firstly the country has a great climate and that is particularly appealing to those people living under the grey skies of northern Europe. Getting there is both quick and relatively cheap. A flight from London in the United Kingdom to Malaga on the south coast of Spain takes only a little over two hours. It is possible to get some very cheap flights with either one of the well known budget airlines or by picking up a spare seat on one of the hundreds of charters that fly to Spain every day.
There is a wide selection of property to choose from both in type and numbers. Consideration of the following points will help to narrow the search. Size of the property, the garden and the number of rooms required. People planning to emigrate with children should check out what schooling is available locally. Consider the local health & social services. Choose between a built up area or open countryside. How near is the beach, a town, the shops, the bars and restaurants, public transport, its frequency and what time does it stop in the evening?
Many developers looking to improve their own cash flow will offer property for sale off plan. The potential buyer may be able to view a show home but in many cases they are literally shown a development plan or a scale model. An initial deposit is payable followed by several stage payments. A couple of advantages, if property prices rise between purchase and the completion of the project the buyer will own a property worth more than they have paid for it. Secondly, most developers will allow the buyer some say in style and design of both the inside and outside of the house. The down side is the amount of time buyers will have to wait until the development is completed, often in excess of 12 months. And of course they don't know what they are getting for their money until the property is completed.
The cheapest property available in a finished state is likely to be an apartment. These are often on an urbanizacion or housing estate that will often include other types of property such as townhouses and villas. These small communities will include a pool and landscaped gardens. Some kind of security is often employed either in the shape of guards or CCTV cameras. A community charge is payable to cover these facilities. A word of caution. Many of these properties are let to holidaymakers during the summer months. Some to English people with children. The noise these guys make while on holiday has to be heard to be believed. If it's not the kids during the day it's their drunken parents in the early hours of the morning.
A detached, purpose built villa offers more privacy and seclusion but it will cost more than a comparative property within a community.
Buyers looking for a more of the Spanish experience should look at properties within an established town or village. Many of these properties look small but are surprisingly spacious once inside.
A Finca is a property standing on a plot of land in the countryside. It may be a tumbledown farmhouse or a just completed villa. Many fincas have a good deal of land and this may have fruit orchards or olive groves.
Finding the right property should be no more than a question of looking. Once a decision has been made on the location and the type of property it is time to talk to the estate agent. Make certain this person is registered with the authorities and holds a license. Many estate agents have a background in time share developments so the hard sell can be expected. Any claims made by agents should, wherever possible, be substantiated by an independent source.
Any offers to purchase a property should be made in writing and include the following: The price, how it is to be paid and in what currency. The amount of the deposit, to ensure the property is withdrawn from the market, and when it is to be paid. The completion date. Who is responsible for the payment of which taxes. And a detailed list of what is included in the price, furniture, fixtures and fittings and a proviso that all systems, air conditioning, etc. are in good working order. It is vital that this is done in conjunction with a solicitor. Many English speaking solicitors are to be found throughout Spain. No document provided by an estate agent or others should be signed without a solicitor having prior site of it. This cannot be stressed enough.
When an offer is accepted the solicitor should firstly make a check with the land registry. If all is well a private contract binding both parties to the deal is prepared. Following that is the preparation of the public deeds (Escritura de Compraventa) which must be signed before a Spanish notary. Upon completion the solicitor will fax the title deed to the local land register confirming the identity of the new owner and ensuring that the property cannot be sold a second time.
There are certain charges involved with yearly maintenance of the property and these may include, community fees, electricity, real estate tax, rubbish collection charges, water. If the property generates rental income the owner will be liable
for property income and wealth tax. The estate agent should be able to provide this information.
A mortgage application in Spain is relatively straightforward. The following original documents need to be shown, passport, if employed, the last three months payslips and if self employed, accounts of the last 3 years, an accountant's reference, and tax returns.
A further 10% of the agreed price will have to be found to cover additional fees that include: Legal fees of approximately 1%, Notary and Land Registry Fees of approximately 1%, Title Deed Tax of 0.5%. A Valia tax, payable on any increase in land value may be payable. On a new construction IVA tax is levied at 7%. It is charged at the full rate of 16% for purchases of land. Purchases of used property are subject to a transfer tax and this like the IVA comes in at 7%.
People planning to move to Spain for a period in excess of 6 months must apply for residency. Spanish property owners' who do not have residency should appoint a financial representative and they must be resident in Spain. This can be a lawyer or tax adviser or to save a few Euros a neighbour or friend. It is to this person that all correspondence regarding the property will be sent.
Consider appointing a gestor or legal representative. They will look after all the paperwork and in Spain there's plenty of it to look after. There's that residency to begin with. People planing to work will need a work permit. If opening a business they can assist with the licenses and permits that will be required. They will also advise on the import of pets, cars, furniture and electrical goods. And they can sort out pension payments in Spain.