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Start of a New Adventure in Spain

This is a story about first buying a property off plan. That had issues. Then found an old cortijo that we would renovate and hopefully turn into a Bed & Breakfast

How events change your outlook
26 September 2010


Part of phase 2 has been completed, but work has stopped for a few months as our builder had some other work that he need to complete which we agreed to that it would not be a problem with us, as we are in no hurry, so long as the main structure is complete, roof on and windows in by the time our building licence expires.
But events that happen can change your outlook on life. My father passed away suddenly a few weeks ago, he lived life to the end, but still had things he had planned to do.
So where before I/we was just letting things take their time and see how things pan out, we how need to start living the dream, while we still have the time on our side to do this.
My mum, who passed away some 14 years ago and dad had their dreams and went for them, I am a bit more cautious. But how I believe you need to live them, if you fail at least you can say I tried and move on.
Sorry if this sounds a bit morbid, but it’s part of this adventure and we now need to get things going and start living the dream.
So we are going out in October to get things moving along.

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Hows it going ?
20 June 2010


Work was started on phase 1 of the project which involved raising the roof, building up and over of which was once the kitchen, knocking though door ways, which was quiet a job as the thickness of the walls in these old buildings

The wooden beams replaced where the old ones were rotten as well as roof tiles. Everything that was replaced was like for like.


The builder had been giving me weekly updates and sending pictures regularly on the progress of the work which was good and came to the point that we could not wait for a Fri/Sat when we would receive these.


Since work start we have been out a few times, as the builder wanted us too,so we could to see the work and to make sure all was ok, plus as things move along you can see the shape of how things will look, the sizes of room etc. I feel this is an important time as you can make some changes, do some things abit different, as we did.


Although we went out in March, the morning we arrived at the house there was snow on the ground it was freezing cold, and just started to rain, there was no roof on the house, rubble everywhere, standing on the first floor suryeing the work wet, cold thinking o my god. But the builder said trying to read my thoughts, getting abit worried with the expression I must have had on my face, this is it at its worse state?


He was right. We went out end of May the building is taking shape, with most of the main building work on this phase complete, work will start on phase 2 which is an extension on which use to house the animals.


Looking forward to next stage.

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Another Issue
04 June 2010


Had e-mail from builder to say that he had received the extension of licence from the town hall, but they have only granted as a year, instead of the 2 we had requested, this is due to the fact that the town hall are cracking down on this sort of thing.









This was done in the following weeks, he agreed to our plans and work started on 8th Feb

Booked flights for the middle of January 2010 to go over for two days to go though the plans and both our ideas so we could get it down on paper making sure that we kept most of the windows etc in the same place as these was agreed by planning and town hall. This was all done; the builder took the new plans off to the architect for he’s approval.

Had phone call from the builder to say that he had spent some time measuring the property as per the plan to have some idea what could be done, but needed us to come out to look at he’s ideas, but also I had my own ideas on what I now wanted , we needed to agree on the best way to tackle this project, but also to get this renovation started as we now have a shorter dead line to complete.

So how we have a shorter deadline than we wanted. Still these things seem to happen to us, so we need to push on.

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First stage of renovation
16 May 2010


We planned a trip in the next few weeks to go over sign some paper work, and finally pick the keys up for the house  unlock the doors walk inside, knowing we own it.

We did all of the above over three days, meeting the builder, and showing him inside for the first time, although on our first day out there we arrived early and did a few miles going to bank in Murcia and then on to the solicitors in Almeria, busting for the loo on the way to the B&B, we detoured off to go to the Cortijo to use the loo and you could say that we christened it.


Had  a good meeting with the builder, although we went through what we wanted to do, as we need to do the build in stages as it had cost us more in short term to buy the property. As we went through the plans we found that some of the measurements did not fit and walls was shown as being knocked down which had no need to, but as I said early the architect was suggesting for it to be  knock down and build completely new, but rustic looking. Therefore, it was decided that the builder would need to see the architect to go through what we wanted to do, i.e. to do it in stages and to build on the existing part of the house, without knocking any of it down, so we could keep the character of the building. We returned home, but did not want to, which was always the case when we come out .


The builder had he’s meeting and sent me the outcome of it and first thing that need our urgent attention was the fact that the building licence that we had at the start of all this was due to expire on the 21st of January 2010.


On the good side we could put in for an extension of the licence for another 2 years, which the architect had written a letter to the town hall explaining the situation on how long it had taken to purchase the property. He said that there should be no problem with the town hall granting us an extension.


We was luckly that the builder had arranged this meeting or we could have missed the dead line, the licence would have expired and we would have had to reply for it from start, phew! You could say.


Also the builder was happy for as to do it in stages and the architect was happy to do the build in the way we had suggested, so long us the outside was in keeping with the original plans, was white and the tiles on the roof was what was stated on the plans submitted to town hall .


The only thing now we had 2 years to complete the build, well at least the external part the inside we can do in our own time.


I started to re look at the plans again to look at want we could do, we had a free rein as such to re design the layout and make sure we use every part of the old parts of the building.

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Finally is it ours?
25 April 2010


The following day I phoned the vender to get hes reaction on this, you can guess that he was not too pleased as he came so close to having he’s money, he could see it, nearly touch it, but  it was not to be, so close yet so far. He said the only positive thing was that he’s ex wife was not present, he thought that would have been the icing on the cake. 


I got a phone call on the Monday to say that the ex wife was going to come out her self, I thought that would be interesting for the vendor, just in case there was any more issues as she wanted to to get this done and dusted.


All was set for signing at the Notary on Thursday the 5th November 2009.



Thankfully, we completed on  that date with no problems, you can imagine how we felt when we recieved the news, we was finally able to pop the chamagne open to drink to the first part of our dream complete and finally we were the owners of Cortijo los Titos.


How we could start the renovation


Also we could not wait to visit and pick keys up from our solicitor.







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So close
17 April 2010


What had happened was years ago, the property was extended, but so the owner  did not pay any more tax they never registered the extension as tax is based on the size of the property.

This took a few months, which is not surprising, but it was quicker than I thought it would take as the vendor was pushing it though, as he knew that we had the bank behind us.


Finally everything was in order and a date was set for everyone to sign at the notary, although we was having trouble contacting out solicitor as he had power of attorney to sign all paperwork on our behalf. So at the time it was suggested that we come over to sign. We looked at doing it in a day which could be possible, or over 2 days which we have done before, it was a nightmare to find flights to be able to do it in a day, or two as the vendor was willing to pick us up from the airport, in the end it  was not possible., as a lot of the airlines had cut back on there flights.

In the end we was able to make contact with our solicitor,  he contacted us and all was arranged for the meeting and the signing at the notary , you thought we would have been excited by this, but we was not, as we had  been though this many times and there always something that raises it`s ugly head, and guess what?


We was right, everyone was at the notary for the signing etc, when the notary noticed that the ex-wife of the vendor power of attorney and her NIE number was in her married name etc, but now she was divorced it was not legal for them to sign on her behalf. I got the phone call after the event, which at the time I thought should have been  good news, but as I said it was not, I could not believe it, so close, but still not ours,  thought came to me that we could have gone all the way out there at a great expense to not have completed, I would have lost it big time.


My legal/ fin adviser stated that her solicitor should have realised this at the time of going though all the paper work, but once again this was missed.

He said that it was not a problem but she would need to get another power of attorney done was would be able to do it quite quickly, and should be able to complete next week. I had my doubts as the way our luck had gone on this it would go on for longer.

But as the saying go`s (you never fail till you stop)

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Is the light getting further away
10 April 2010


Within a couple of weeks he a found a couple of banks interested, once again we had to send all our documents off again (buy this time we must be will known with the Spanish banks).

One came back with an ok as the advisor had sold our situation to them as he had all the original information of the property, but this was also depending on valuation, which again we had to open account with them and send money to pay for this.

The valuation was completed and came back at a lower value then the last one which we had expected. We got back to the vendor and put another offer on the table on how much we was willing to pay for the property, he was not happy with this offer , but we knew he had no choice,  if he decided to put the property back on the market he would only get the current market value for it and the added cost of marketing it again.

He had to liaise with he’s ex wife on this, but it was not long before he got back and agreed to our lasted offer.

Then the next problem arouse, we thought there could be no more problems, but we was wrong, the size of the property was different to what was stated in the land registry,  they said that it was not a major problem to be



rectified, but it had to be re-measured by an architect and then signed by the town hall, then get it registered at the land registry so that a number can be allocated to the property, which the bank needed. This had to be done by the vendor as this error should have been highlighted and sorted when he purchased it.


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Light at the end of the tunnel
04 April 2010


Once again what do we do?  Give up or keep tiring. We decided to pay a visit out to Spain to see if they were any other problems, also to see it there was anythink we could do. I had spoken to vendor about the last set back, which is was quiet angry about due to the fact it kept coming back that the property was illegal,he was going to speak to the bank himself because he felt that it was all wrong, because all paper work that was in place and the fact as said before the town Hall had granted us planning permission for the renovation, which they would not have done on an illegal property.

He also came up with another idea on taking over he’s mortgage (which I found out that you can do this in Spain) and paying the difference from the mortgage and asking price, which we had re-negotiated again due to fact that house prices was falling fast in Spain, as well as in the UK , and was based on the last valuation that was done.

We went out in May 2009, had a great visit first staying with the father-in-law in Elche and then driving done to Almeria and staying in our favourite B&B and meeting up with the vendors bank Manager, which he agreed that they would be no problem in taking over he’s mortgage, we supplied him with all the information that he required (don’t know how many times we have how given banks etc our details).

The only thing now was that he would submit it to he’s Head Office for approval, which as he said at one time he would have had the authority to ok it, but because of the credit crises, everything had to go to them now, which could take one week or several, and how the Spanish work, months.

We also went to the solicitors just to make sure that it would be in order and the contact that he would have to draw up to make sure it was all legal, which was no problem as all parties involved was ok with this, including the vendors ex wife..

We also found out that the proposed golf course that was earmark across the way from the house was still going ahead; we visited the offices of the promoters who had plans of it laid out and the details of site and work involved. This would take about 2 years to be developed by the work involved, so this would give us the time hopefully to buy and renovate the property before it was finished.

The rest of the time we spent in Spain was enjoyable, time went very quickly and in no time at all we was back home.

Several months past and phone calls back and forth to the vender on any news from the bank, but no news yet. We also tried to look around again to see if there was any bank that would be interested.

Out of the blue some months later I had phone call from the solicitors that was acting on behalf of the vendors ex-wife, firstly to ask that we was still interested in buying the property, as it had gone on for so long now, and secondly he would be able to assist in helping us find a bank that would be interested giving us a mortgage (its not what you know, it’s who you know as the saying go`s).

find out next time what happen`s

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Hear we go again
29 March 2010


We spent the next 6months looking for a mortgages though mortgage brokers this had cost as time and money, the first one looked at all papers asked for copy of valuation, and looked at a few banks that might be interested, but all came back with the same answer as before that while the work was being carried out on the property it was not habitual. Therefore, if anything were to go wrong, they felt it they would not be able to sell it.  After all, it was still a building, on land, that has a value.

We then went though a broker in UK and he found a bank that would be interested and we filled in all the paper work paid some admin fees to the broker and everything was going fine, then at the last minute the bank pulled out saying that they had changed they criteria and we now did not meet this, the broker tried to fight this for us stating the we had started the process before they decided to change this. But the bank came back to say there would not loan us the money.

By this time we started to think that it was not to be, we would not be able to buy the property and our dream was lost.

If I gave up on this dream I would always think what if !  So I was not going to give up, although friends and family thought we should give up, as they thought it was not to be.

I went back to broker to find out if they was anyone else out there that would be interested, we also went to a Spanish broker to see if they could find a bank.


They was a couple out they that was interested, so we went over the same process again of providing all the information the banks wanted, having a valuation done.

One bank got to the point of an offer when valuation was sent to their Head office; they stated that according to the land registry the property did not exist so was illegal, what again this is coming up. On requesting copy of valuation, he visited the right place, but on pinpointing it on the cadastral map he had the wrong plot, so all information there took from this was all wrong. I highlighted this with them, and they  relook at it, but came back later with the same story. Which again I told them how could this be when the seller as a mortgage for the property. Again we was told no, but also |I had lost confidence in the bank due to the errors that was made.

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The story continues
21 March 2010

The story continues from where I left of in my last blog

We decided to carry on as we have fallen in love with the property; the vendor had to now get the property measured by an architect to draw up the plans with the correct measurements.

The problem was that on land registry it shows  that the size is a lot smaller than the actual measurement, this happened when the vendor had sold some of the land to his father, and paper work was not done correctly and then re-registered at the land registry.

To do this the vendors solicitor is requesting a segregation certificate from the local town hall (to segregate the land from his father and add it to the house) which all should have been done in the first place .

Once this has been done, it can go to the notary to make the segregation and added it to the deed. Then it will go to the cadaster in order to give it an independent cadastral reference to the property. Therefore, in manna culture this could take months.


This was finally completed in May 08, and valuation was done on the property as it stands now and once the property had been renovated. Therefore, everything was ready to rock and roll.

The bank got back to us to say that they was only  prepared to offer us a mortgage for X amount  which was considerable less than we need as part of the mortgage was to buy property and to do the renovation, the valuation came in a lot less than the asking price and the value of property once it had been renovated came in quiet a bit higher which was good, but made no difference to the bank ( due to the situation with the property market in Spain at that time).  One we would need to go back to the vender to see if we could renegotiate a new price based on the valuation, as prices had came down due to the credit crunch, especially the property market that was happening around the world at that time.

Before we made our move with speaking to the vendor the bank Manager phoned me to say that the bank had changed they mind and was not now willing to give as a mortgage, Why?, because the property would not be habitual while the building work was being done, what a load of bull, they knew all this at the start. All that was requested by them, all the plans etc was done so they knew from the start what was involved. They was running scared due to the banking situation around the world, which I would have understood more if they told me this was the reason not to loan us the money, and not come out with some cock and bull story.


story to continue

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