Purchasing Property

Do you have a query about moving to Andalucia and buying property in Andalucia. Find out by posting questions and reading about other peoples experiences.
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Loopy Lisa
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Purchasing Property

Postby Loopy Lisa » Wed Jan 11, 2017 6:32 pm

Hi, I’m new. Just a quick intro, my partner and I are looking forward to a move to Andalucia in the next few months. We are selling our UK home, giving up work and moving to Spain, with a plan to settle here and enjoy the relaxed lifestyle.

We have some queries as the process seems incredibly slow and fraught with issues, the biggest one is the lack of an honest estate agent who can be relied upon to keep all parties informed and to be truthful!!!

So we are now at the point of the PPC and it has taken 9 months to get here - problems with the land registry documents being incorrect; incorrect plot size (we are now 5000sqm less) and the lack of legal access onto the plot and therefore the property!!

The Land Registry issues etc can be rectified but the access is a major thing for us, but the sellers don’t seem to understand this and have accused us of being difficult. The plot we are buying has no direct access onto the road – in every direction it has to cross somebody else’s land. The land owner was eventually found and there is now a verbal agreement that he will enter into a formal agreement with us. So the vendors and the agent are pushing to sign the PPC and we wish to have the access properly dealt with first. Does anybody think this is unreasonable? In addition, the vendors want us to cough up the 10% deposit and pay direct to them (we aren’t going to do that) but they say that is normal in Spain – having followed the Spanish Land Registry guidance it doesn’t seem that it is normal as that advice states do not pay to the vendor. Does anybody else have any views on this? And now it appears that when we are about to organise to transfer the deposit to our solicitor to hold in escrow, and ask the agent to forward our reservation deposit, that the money has already been passed to the vendor.

Is it me or does this seem to be wrong? I don’t know who to ask, as the vendors and agents have a vested interest in the sale. The property is in the countryside and I appreciate that things are done differently, but the agent hasn’t been the most forthright in communicating with us (in fact we have only received 2 phone calls from his firm in 9 months!!!)

Any advice/experience or just views would be really appreciated.

Thanks x

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Enrique
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Re: Purchasing Property

Postby Enrique » Wed Jan 11, 2017 6:58 pm

Hi Loopy Lisa,
Welcome to The Forum.............. :D

Sounds like you should have walked away long ago.......there are loads of properties for sale in the Campo ( countryside) to choose from...... :idea:
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Re: Purchasing Property

Postby gavilan » Wed Jan 11, 2017 8:34 pm

I would whole heartedly endorse that comment/advice from Enrique ... get out now ... find somewhere else where things are not nearly so complicated ...

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Re: Purchasing Property

Postby Unicorn » Wed Jan 11, 2017 9:01 pm

Welcome Lisa. The following is not intended to be harsh, just the result of so so many stories of buying problems heard over the years.

The pertinent part of your original post Lisa is you want to 'enjoy the relaxed lifestyle'. From your comments it would seem you would be a long way off that and that are buying a whole load of problems and experience tells us that in Spain problems just breed bigger problems.

Most ol' timers on here will say you would be truly living up to being 'loopy' as we have heard so many tales of woe such as yours and buyers just soldier on in some sort of belief that laws will be followed, agreements kept to, and that lawyers seemingly have your interests at heart. This is not the UK, it is the Wild West, particularly in the campo - they are a law unto themselves. Even if somehow you muddle through and seem to have bought the place I would bet that that is when the real problems would start. Many lawyers here are not, how can I say, the most scrupulous in their dealings. And if lawyers and agents (and probably the local state administration) are working in cahoots the smart money, I'm afraid, would always be on them.

I wish you all the best, and if you buy this place sincerely hope it all is fine. All I suggest that people on here would say is that you have been warned and that at least you are going into battle with eyes wide open.

For all that, I would say, should you continue with this property, in the words of Sir Humphrey Appleton 'that would be a brave decision'!

All the best, sincerely.

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costakid
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Re: Purchasing Property

Postby costakid » Wed Jan 11, 2017 11:35 pm

Please Please do not part with another penny. You could end up with a piece of land that is land locked by others. Then its worthless. Walk away. What your buying is not unique and can easily be found in the campo a 100 times.

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Re: Purchasing Property

Postby chrissiehope » Wed Jan 11, 2017 11:55 pm

When you first paid some money over to the agent to 'secure' the property, did you specify anything, such as the access being regularised, as a condition of sale ? If you did, then I agree, walk away - you may get your money back if the condition was not met, but it will mean more expense as you may end up having to take them to court.

We had a similar problem, but with the legality of the property, it took several years, but we eventually got our money back, along with some of the costs.

So, hard tho' it is, assuming you can afford to lose what you've already paid, it will probably work out cheaper (& less stressful !) in the long run to try & find somewhere else

I wish you all the luck in the world :-)
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Re: Purchasing Property

Postby Beachcomber » Wed Jan 11, 2017 11:57 pm

Apart from the question of servidumbre, the lack of which should be ringing serious alarm bells, does the property have a license of first occupation and/or a building license? Is it registered as a dwelling rather than a shed or warehouse and does the description correspond to that in the nota simple and in the Catastro records?

If you have been going through the process for nine months I assume you are aware that there are, in effect, two 'land registries'; the Registro de la Propiedad and Dirección General de Catastro. Does the square meterage in each of their records more or less coincide? If not, have you obtained a topographer's report?

Assuming the property is in Andalucía bear in mind that any rural property built here since 2002 is, by definition, illegal regardless of whether it has a building license or is registered in the Property Registry or Catastro unless it is built on an area of at least three hectares and is to be used for a properly registered agricultural business.

If, despite all the warning signs, you still decide to go ahead and you do not have a total command of the language make sure you have the original Spanish contract translated by a totally independent translator qualified in legal translations. Do not rely on an English translation by a lawyer or estate agent or some local expat who thinks he can speak Spanish. If push comes to shove it is the Spanish version of the contract that will take precedence in a court of law and there have been occasions when it was found that the English version is wildly different from the Spanish.

You should not pay any deposit whatsoever until every single one of the legal questions has been resolved to your own satisfaction. Do not rely on anything that you are told by the sellers, your lawyer, the estate agent or any local politician or, in reality, anybody whatsoever. You are on your own and there is nothing more relevant to the term Caveat emptor, quia ignorare non debuit quod jus alienum emit than the purchase of a property in Spain.

It has always been said that you should not buy a property in Spain unless you can afford to lose all of your money and this is even more true today than it has been in the past as many foreigners have found to their cost. If there is any doubt whatsoever you should abandon the purchase of this property and look elsewhere.

A few years ago I would have been castigated for writing a comment or saying anything like this in conversation but now most people agree with me, Spaniards and foreigners alike, as you will have gathered from the previous comments.

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Loopy Lisa
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Re: Purchasing Property

Postby Loopy Lisa » Thu Jan 12, 2017 12:12 am

Thanks for your responses. I think you have all put into writing what we knew but were reluctant to accept regarding the access.

chrissiehope wrote:When you first paid some money over to the agent to 'secure' the property, did you specify anything, such as the access being regularised, as a condition of sale ? If you did, then I agree, walk away - you may get your money back if the condition was not met, but it will mean more expense as you may end up having to take them to court.


When we made the offer (which was the full asking price - no haggling) and paid the deposit we were told that the paperwork was "clean as a whistle" and no issues at all. It transpired that there were issues, including the wrong size of plot, the swimming pool and outside terracing not on Land registry and differences between the plot and catastro. All of these we accepted could be rectified without too much hassle; when we visited the property we were told that the driveway was a "shared access/drive/track" which intimates an element of proprietary rights and we accept that this was the case. It was only when the revised documents were received back that we found that the access driveway wasnt shown and that the plot was landlocked.

Anyway since writing this afternoon, we have received an email from the agent saying that the vendors have stated that if we do not sign the PPC by monday they will pay the 3000 euro deposit to them as compensation that we have refused to move forward. At the moment I dont trust myself to respond in a rational manner!

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Loopy Lisa
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Re: Purchasing Property

Postby Loopy Lisa » Thu Jan 12, 2017 12:17 am

Beachcomber wrote:Apart from the question of servidumbre, the lack of which should be ringing serious alarm bells, does the property have a license of first occupation and/or a building license? Is it registered as a dwelling rather than a shed or warehouse and does the description correspond to that in the nota simple and in the Catastro records?

If you have been going through the process for nine months I assume you are aware that there are, in effect, two 'land registries'; the Registro de la Propiedad and Dirección General de Catastro. Does the square meterage in each of their records more or less coincide? If not, have you obtained a topographer's report?

Assuming the property is in Andalucía bear in mind that any rural property built here since 2002 is, by definition, illegal regardless of whether it has a building license or is registered in the Property Registry or Catastro unless it is built on an area of at least three hectares and is to be used for a properly registered agricultural business.

If, despite all the warning signs, you still decide to go ahead and you do not have a total command of the language make sure you have the original Spanish contract translated by a totally independent translator qualified in legal translations. Do not rely on an English translation by a lawyer or estate agent or some local expat who thinks he can speak Spanish. If push comes to shove it is the Spanish version of the contract that will take precedence in a court of law and there have been occasions when it was found that the English version is wildly different from the Spanish.

You should not pay any deposit whatsoever until every single one of the legal questions has been resolved to your own satisfaction. Do not rely on anything that you are told by the sellers, your lawyer, the estate agent or any local politician or, in reality, anybody whatsoever. You are on your own and there is nothing more relevant to the term Caveat emptor, quia ignorare non debuit quod jus alienum emit than the purchase of a property in Spain.

It has always been said that you should not buy a property in Spain unless you can afford to lose all of your money and this is even more true today than it has been in the past as many foreigners have found to their cost. If there is any doubt whatsoever you should abandon the purchase of this property and look elsewhere.

A few years ago I would have been castigated for writing a comment or saying anything like this in conversation but now most people agree with me, Spaniards and foreigners alike, as you will have gathered from the previous comments.


It does appear to have all the required licences and was built about 12 years ago I think, it was sold as a villa but everywhere else it is referred to as a Cortijo (as in all the documentation). I do consider myself cautious and my partner is as well, I trained (but didnt practice) as a lawyer in the UK and my partner is a contract manager.

I appreciate your candid response.

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Re: Purchasing Property

Postby maureenscot » Thu Jan 12, 2017 1:20 am

I would lose the deposit and walk away. Too many ifs and buts. Also folk have been caught in situations where a place is being sold 'legit' but turns out several generations scattered over the globe also own the house. Others have found that there are dictats that say the surrounding farmers have first refusal on cortijo land. But even without these risks, as previously stated, there are rustic laws in the campo stipulating what the land can be used for or not. Years ago you may have got away with going ahead and hoping for the best but not any more. It is a serious offence to have an illegal swimmimg pool and misuse of water and there is no mercy. Do not believe anything that any professional says unless they come by sound reccomendation of several others. This includes lawyers, mayors, town halls, agents, translators. Spanish prisons are full of these people though even more are still around.There are loads of legal villas and cortijos in the campo. Ther are lots of genuine experienced people on this forum to help you find somewhere where you can begin your relaxed life. If any of these professionals or owners were committed, they would have done the necessary before nine months had gone by. Good luck

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Re: Purchasing Property

Postby maureenscot » Thu Jan 12, 2017 1:24 am

Living in Spain is wonderful but there are an awful lot of expats with broken hearts and empty pockets. Keep us posted

Beachcomber
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Re: Purchasing Property

Postby Beachcomber » Thu Jan 12, 2017 9:57 am

The initial reservation fee is a provisional payment pending a legal investigation of the property.

Apart from the fact that the property appears to have been built at least two years subsequent to the law banning the construction of all properties on rural land (subject the proviso in my last post) there appear to be many other unresolved legal issues in which case you are entitled to a total refund of the reservation fee.

The other parties will be well aware of the situation which is why pressure is being put on you to proceed and if you do so, far from 'enjoying a relaxed lifestyle', you are likely to be consigned to a lifetime of hassle and legal wrangling.

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Wicksey
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Re: Purchasing Property

Postby Wicksey » Thu Jan 12, 2017 10:10 am

As a matter of interest, whereabouts are you buying?

When we were buying our current house the agent, whom we had known for many years, took a 3000€ deposit from us with a contract to say it would be refunded if the sale couldn't go ahead. It turned out there were problems with the land and then he wouldn't repay it to us. We ended up doing a swop of land so that we owned the access to our house and the neighbour was happy to give us land to the side of our house in return for letting him have the land above our property. In fact, it was the agent which helped us do this but otherwise we would have walked away. We were still furious with the agent, but in the end it did work out OK. The previous owners paid for new land plans to be properly surveyed and drawn up and the catastral plan is in the process of being changed. However, I still wouldn't recommend buying in the campo these days and we don't intend to do so again!

I would agree with everything the other members have said above. Please do not think that the law as you know it in the UK applies here. Buying a house in the campo is difficult enough, but in your case it sounds like you already have many problems that may never be resolved. As Beach says, it seems from what you have said that the house is possibly illegal as well. It's no wonder the vendor and agent are pushing you to complete a sale as there are obviously many insurmountable problems with the property.

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Enrique
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Re: Purchasing Property

Postby Enrique » Thu Jan 12, 2017 10:39 am

Hi ,
A couple of get out of jail items that you have checked...........no :?:

Mains power is this from official source.... :?:
Mains water.......... :?:
and the nasty stuff..........sewage........what is the system in place...... :?:
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Loopy Lisa
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Re: Purchasing Property

Postby Loopy Lisa » Thu Jan 12, 2017 11:28 am

Hi. Mains power is via solar only - for this the property is completely off grid. There is no attachment to the mains power. It is solar with batteries.

There is mains water.

Sewage is the 3 chamber system.

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Re: Purchasing Property

Postby Unicorn » Thu Jan 12, 2017 1:56 pm

Lisa

If given a choice between losing 3000 Euros or my mind I would choose the money. No contest.

Have someone look at you compraventa. It seems they have not complied so there is no reason they should keep your money.
But, we are not somewhere where reason has the upper hand.

I suspect that if you call a halt the price will miraculously drop but do not be tempted. You would just be buying a slightly cheaper load of hassle and heartache.

Set your lawyer on them, or you could denounce them, or threaten to, you may get your money back.

Spend an afternoon watching those live life in the sun programmes as see dreams trashed, bankruptcies, divorces and separations, people living with no water, power, access and town halls pulling properties down.

Then get on the internet and find something else with no or way fewer problems.

Good luck.

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Wicksey
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Re: Purchasing Property

Postby Wicksey » Thu Jan 12, 2017 5:41 pm

I'm surprised it has mains water but no electricity. Our campo houses have never had a problem getting electricity connected but we have never had mains (ie town drinking) water and have to make do with agricultural water supply (which is a bit hit and miss at the moment).

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Loopy Lisa
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Re: Purchasing Property

Postby Loopy Lisa » Thu Jan 12, 2017 5:48 pm

Really, we were told that the electrical supply from the mains to the house would cost Euro 20,000 which is why they chose to go off grid. This property really is in the middle of nowhere - no neighbour we can walk to, and no house in sight. All the land close by is open countryside so I assume that is why the costs were going to be so high for connection, or maybe this was the cost of "buying" a right across the neighbours land ..........

Watch this space, as they say!

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Loopy Lisa
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Re: Purchasing Property

Postby Loopy Lisa » Thu Jan 12, 2017 5:49 pm

We are buying in the Los Velez area of Almeria. Swapping land parcels - this would be workable, for us, but I don't know whether this would divide the developers land into unacceptable small plots which would restrict building and I don't know if this was suggested to him, although we had mentioned to the estate agent about doing this during our second call from his office just after the Brexit vote.

I am beginning to see just how much our hearts were ruling on this deal not to mention our choice of not asking why it had been on the market for 18 months before we made an offer .......... yep, when things look too good to be true - they generally are!!! *deep sigh*

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Re: Purchasing Property

Postby Wicksey » Thu Jan 12, 2017 6:08 pm

If you are really in the middle of nowhere then I would question where the water is from. Certainly around here what I would call mains (treated drinking) water only reaches out a little way into the campo surrounding a village/town unless it's different there. With no other houses within sight I would be surprised if it was 'mains'. Our own water is bought from our neighbour's agricultural supply. We don't really like that arrangement but have little choice other than to have a bore hole sunk which even then is no guarantee of being successful.

In the campo plots of land cannot be divided up. We have simply moved our boundaries so that instead of a long thin oblong plot we now have a wider, rhombus shaped one .... if that makes any sense! The neighbouring landowner happened to have owned our plot originally and he had decided to hang onto some of it which he shouldn't have (as his water tank is on the top of what was our hill). So we have let him keep the top part of the land and he has given us some of his neighbouring plot, but it's more a change of boundaries than him dividing up the plot. The escritura showed the proper land plan but old Paco had other ideas!

The land has been surveyed and topographical maps drawn up and signed and agreed by him and our assessoria is in the process of getting the plans changed on the main register although it can take years to go through. In your situation I would be very worried about access as you are completely landlocked and would not accept just a verbal agreement of the rights of access.


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