Buying property in Andalusia

The following is a guest post by blogger Mario Vitanelli on some of the pitfalls of buying property in Andalusia:

Ah, Andalusia.

From its near tropical coastlines on the Atlantic and Mediterranean to its snow covered Sierra Nevada peaks, the rains of Sierra de Grazalema to the dusts of Tabernas.

Birthplace of the  Flamenco, of Picaso, of bullfighting and home of the Alhambra. What Spain is to the world, Andalusia is to Spain.

For many expats, Andalusia is the destination of choice for their retirement years. With its varied climate and its long and storied culture it’s the place for both active retirees looking to dance and tour, and those who simply want a quiet patch to relax in the sun.

Unfortunately, not all is well in the state of Andalusia. For years the reports have been coming out about homes demolished and expat owners going uncompensated. The government in Andalusia estimates there to be approximately 300.000 illegally constructed properties under its jurisdiction, all of which could be subject to demolition.

Does this mark the end of the dreams of expats wishing to retire to Andalusia? Not at all. It simply means that home buyers need to be certain that the property they are interested in is one of the millions of legally built structures. There are certain steps that can be taken to protect a purchaser from unscrupulous sellers and construction agents.

The UK Foreign Office has created a set of guidelines that expats can follow to help protect themselves from these risks. Some of the key recommendations include:

  • Don’t try to cut costs by negotiating yourself. Hire a solicitor who is fluent in both English and Andalusian Spanish, is experienced in both Spanish property law and local Andalusian regulations, and who is registered with the Colegio de Abogados.
  • Hire a good, independent translator. Don’t rely on your own knowledge of Spanish. Dealing with legal matters and negotiations can be difficult enough in your native language. Don’t expect to catch all of the nuances of terms in a second language without good, trustworthy help.
  • Double check that the property matches the documents. Use a surveyor who is chartered through the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors.
  • Double check with the courts that there are no liens on the property and that the seller has the legal status to make the sale. Ensure that the property complies with all local building codes and districting.

Andalusia.com also has some excellent advice and resources on how to protect yourself and what to expect when purchasing property. It covers issues such as expected costs for fees and taxation. For example, the Transfer Tax on a property is paid by the purchaser, and ranges between 8% and 10% depending on the difference between the assessed value of the property and the purchase amount.

Further, it also discusses situations such as purchasing land in order to build a home on it.

Of course, the most important question is whether you can afford a home in Spain. The Spanish property market is considerably less expensive than homes in the UK. But living on a fixed income after  taking an annuity or transferring into a QROPS might limit your ability to pay the necessary costs for purchasing and maintaining a home abroad. It’s always wise to consult with professionals before you start spending funds on a purchase and then find out you are outside of your price range.

Mario Vitanelli is a freelance writer and blogger who specializes in international politics and finance, retirement and investment.

His areas of expertise include European, Asian and Latin/South American economic policy and QROPS pension scheme. When
away from his keyboard, he enjoys photography and appreciates the rest of the Vitanelli family’s endless patience with his football dependence.

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