Buyer's Guide
Costa Tropical

"We have known Martin these last 4 years; we bought our first house in Spain from him, a beautiful white house up in the mountains of Jete. He helped to make the whole journey as hassle free as possible, and that is saying something given the Spanish mañana. He has continued to be of help and support, very important when your property is in another country..."


What help will I need?

Initial Searches...

For many customers looking for a Spanish property then their first point of call is searching the websites of real estate agents in the area in which they are interested. In today's market this can be very confusing for buyers because not only are there very few real esate agents who offer exclusivity of property promotion in Spain, but also the growing number of property portals displaying sales from various independent agency sources, the increased number of (informal) web-based only property "finders" claiming to be independent (often they have no office nor can present the buyer with copies of the relevant paperwork) , and finally too, the recent trend for individual owners to promote their own property on their own website or third party websites like ebay or blogs.
For many buyers, the next step is to visit the area and to arrange viewings with the agent or agents. It is important at this stage that the buyer establish that the agent and/or its representative operates from a registered office in Spain rather than a simple meet and great at a local bar or popular meeting place. For despite the agent's claims by phone or mail, there can be no greater security for the buyer than to have the physical experience when they meet for their appointment, that there is a fully working business in place. A company that has its employees looking after the various interests of a broad range of clients and a business that clearly demonstrates client trust and confidentiality.
It is important too, to avoid at best, the locals who can offer "a great deal on a property." An individual such as this may not necessarily have had access to the owner’s deeds, or be aware of any relevant issues pertaining to the state of the property, its description and/or any changes in the legal qualification of the property. All too frequently, I have seen people still to this day purchase property from such third parties – only to discover much later that they have not or can never obtain a title deed, or that the deed was never registered, or the private sale organised was invalid – horror stories, I know, but it is one of the main reasons to use an estate agent with registered premises, satisfied customers and can present a copy of the properties paperwork.

Spanish banks...

Offer similar products to those in the UK and the rest of Europe. When purchasing your Spanish property you will need to open a non-resident bank account. Thereafter, and if you need, you can shop around to see what mortgage opportunities are on offer. As a rough guide I would suggest that before opening the account with a specific bank that you first check the list of charges, the ability of staff to speak your language, the provision of internet banking facilities, and finally the accessibility of their website in your own language. Still to this day there are many banks in Spain who operate pages in English, and yet do not accord the same criteria to account transactions; so making it doubly difficult to understand charges or movements on your account.

Legal advice...

Having found the estate agent and the bank, then the next assistant, if you need, is to locate a lawyer. Over the years, as the property market expanded, many lawyers moved to the town from the cities to either join established small firms or open independently their own offices.  What is certain, and contrary to all the established thought, concerning "independent lawyers" and the press reports stating that you should NEVER use the lawyer recommended by an agent; then I would challenge this by adding that not all lawyers are the same. Like doctors, each offers specialist knowledge: an aptitude to ease and communicate well with local farmers can be very useful to a successful conveyance, is respected by the local community, has prudence when making definitive searches, is understanding of the implications and changes current in property and land legislature, is proactive in the ways of organising, amplifying and correcting incomplete deeds, and of course is fully registered with college of lawyers. Consequently while some lawyers will accept the challenge of a first title deed say for a village or country property, many more will shy away from the task, simply suggesting to their client that such a property is "years of work, and impossible or too risky to ever be fully registered."

The role of gestor; is not dissimilar to that of a solicitor in the UK; but is still very different in that a gestor is an accountant as well as possessing an understanding of the law. They are not lawyers or tax advisors, but they do have their own institute of associates like the legal and financial professions. The office of gestor originated at the turn of the century to bridge the gap for Spain's illiterate communities and the states bureaucratic systems. For a small fee a gestor can help with organizing a wide range of documents needed for successful life in Spain, they can check contracts, assist in applications for residence in Spain, changing driver and vehicle documents, tax return filing, and so on. A gestor can be extremely useful to you during your life in Spain’s bureaucratic system either as a resident or non-resident owner of property; and while they have no specific authority to advise in specialist tax operations they are nevertheless very useful in the preparation and submission of the relevant declarations such annual rental income tax and patrimonial wealth tax.

Currency Transfer..

Many of us still use our High Street Bank to transfer money, whether it be UK to Spain, Spain to UK or indeed, anywhere else abroad. Whether it be ad-hoc one off payments or regular transfers such as pensions, mortgage repayments or a hard-earned salary we all want the best for our money. Using the Banks, we normally suffer poor exchange rates, charges to send the money and fees to receive it. In these times of volatile markets, we need to be ensuring we maximize whatever rate we can achieve.
There is an alternative to being squeezed by the Banks - a recognized and properly authorized Foreign Exchange company. Currencies Direct have been in the business for 13 years now and continue to go from strength to strength. With a Head Office in London and offices throughout the world - including four here in Spain - Currencies Direct have helped literally hundreds of thousands of private and corporate clients. You are allocated not only a dedicated dealer, but also the services of a local representative - someone who lives in Spain and understands fully your needs and concerns and is able to visit you for a face-to-face meeting should you require one. Registration is easy and without obligation.
So, whether your needs are for one-off amounts or making the most of regular transfers, speak to Currencies Direct. Oh and by the way, they guarantee no charges, fees or commissions! Spain Costa Tropical and Tropicana Estates recommend Currencies Direct for all your international payments, transfers and exchanges. To discuss your requirements please contact me.

Finally, one of the best ways of obtaining help locally has to be to listen to friends living in Spain; their advice and experiences can be an invaluable source to assist you decide what and what not to do… you can also read some of the testimonials and case studies that we have received from some very satisfied, and happy, clients over the years.

Edit 11.2013