Chorizo Frito - a good quick summer tapa
04 August 2009
Published at 09:17 Comments (1)
Ok. Today the naked agent turns naked chef for a few moments! (Ok, not anywhere as good a cook as Jamie Oliver, but still not too bad at making the basics).
As some of you are on your holidays and busy bbq-ing at weekends, here is a good typical Spanish tapa, which takes about 3 minutes to make and will impress your friends:
Chorizo Frito al vino
1. Get yourself a few good thick chorizo sausages.
2. Cut them into thin slices (maybe about 1/2cm thick or just under)
3. Fry them in a pan , hot plate or barbecue them on a medium-high heat. (For those of you who are frying them and are little more indulgent, add a little olive oil.)
4. As you fry them add a little red wine, and fry them further, until the edges start to burn slightly. The mixture of red wine, oil, and chorizo juice is perfect for you to dip your bread into. Adding the red wine makes all the difference to the flavour. (Personally I like to cook them pretty well as I love the charcoally burnt taste of chorizo)
5. Serve the sizzling chorizo and juice into a little typical spanish terracota dish
6. Enjoy with a nice cold beer, red wine or a 'tinto verano' and have some good bread handy to dip into the juice.
Some additional ideas:
1.Fried chorizo with a couple of fried eggs is an excellent Sunday brunch fill in (it also helps with a hangover)
2. Fried Diced Chorizo frito in your omelette, with some cheese and herbs.
Adios por ahora
Five Key Mistakes Every Property Buyer in Spain Should Avoid:
31 July 2009
Published at 10:38 Comments (5)
When buying a property in Spain (or anywhere for that matter), there are some key issues which we tend to overlook. Here are 5 essential mistakes which need to be avoided. These may sound really obvious, but they are extremely important.
1) Lack of Research
Speaking from experience, I know how much research, time and effort we tend to spend on buying a new car, or even a new pram for our little ones. Yet for some reason when buying a home, we tend to be less involved with actual due diligence process! I know when I bought my property a few years ago, I decided in less than 24 hours! Did I conduct all the necessary due diligence? No, not really, but I wish I had. Don’t get me wrong, I love my place, but with a little more research I may have done things a little differently. Do I wish I had known what I know now – for sure.
Now, in the tough current climate, as buyers, we are all being a little more prudent, and so we should.
When researching which property to buy we need to consider the area, builder, developer, construction quality, management company, licences/legaity, community rules etc and unless you are satisfied, do not proceed. Check which agent to use in your local area. Ask around, and you will soon get a feeling of who to work with. I always say use a local agent as they are the ones with the local knowledge, and this is a key part of your research (as well as the internet). Check out prices of comparable properties, and ask plenty questions on your viewing trips to see whether you feel you are getting a realistic picture. The market is now ideal for picking up distressed properties, so with good research and a good agent, you could find a very well priced bargain.
2) Getting bad financing
I think a few of us in the past have been caught up in financing or mortgage deals which on the face of it appear great, but when you dig a little deeper (and often too late), you realise this is not exactly what you had wanted to sign up for. Our ebook, Your Stripped Down Guide to Getting a Property and Mortgage in Spain, covers all the points you need to look out for with the banks (interest rates, bank charges, opening commissions, valuations, types of mortgages, cancelation fees, mortgage taxes etc) and what questions to ask. Two chapters of the book are dedicated to providing you with a step-by-step guide as how to calculate and obtain a mortgage which is right for you and your wallet. The mortgage calculator on our site will help you calculate your approximate monthly payments and assess your budget
Banks in this current environment aren't as lender-friendly as they used to be, but if you shop around, they are still keen for good business, so if you have your paperwork in order, you can negotiate to get the best deal for you.
3) DIY Conveyancing
It is so important for you to find a good lawyer to help you with the property conveyancing process. The ebook, mentioned above, will talk you through all the points you need to cover for conveyancing (checking the nota simple, title deeds, mortgage deeds, licences, title, community fees etc, but it is to be used in tandem with good sound legal advice. The book gives you the tools and shows you what issues you need to watch out for, so know when you meet your lawyer you which main points to check on. (Knowing this info also puts you in a better position when negotiating the final price).
4) Under-estimating Your property expenses
Buying in Spain, is costly, with charges being anywhere from 10% to 15% of the purchase price depending on whether you are taking out a mortgage not. You can learn about the exact expenses to include in our ebook, but the main point to take away here is to ensure you budget for them and understand them before you start looking around. There are so many cases of people finding a property they like, only to find out that once they have added the costs on top, they can no longer afford it. Worse still –in some case people have actually paid non-refundable deposits, oblivious to fact that there will be additional charges. Your agent should cover all of this with you on day 1, but it I always better for you to be prepared
5) Over Paying for your property
This goes in line with the first point I made about research. It is easier said than done though…and in this market what is a fair and realistic price anyway?
The main thing is to compare like for like properties if possible, and to ask around at banks and agents for some of the ‘distressed’ properties. Ensure when you get a price you compare the actual size of the unit (m2), plus terraces, land, parking etc rather than just focusing on the number of bedrooms, so you get a price per square metre. This will start to give you a feel of the value of similar style properties. Many developers, in recent times have tried to squeeze 2 bedroom units into what is effectively the size of a 1 bedroom property, so always look at the exact floor area being sold.
Well, that's about it for today. Enjoy the start of the weekend.
Adios y hasta pronto
Click on the book to get your copy today.
Aifos Files for Bunkruptcy Protection
29 July 2009
Published at 09:16 Comments (0)
We all know Aifos has been battling with its creditors over the last 12 months or more, and many of us (including many of the people on this site), have been stung one way or another by a company who has not seemed to deliver on its promises over the last 2 years. Many people are in current talks with their lawyers to see how they can get their deposits back.
According to recent media reports Aifos has recently filed for Bankruptcy protection with the courts in Malaga. This in itself is no surprise, and not new news to many of us, but what is astounding is the fact that the company may have more than 1 billion euros in debt which it still owes to some 15 or more creditors. Bankruptcy protection may in theory help them deliver on their promises and ensure the delivery of the projects which are are still under construction (some 3000 properties), and safeguard some of their staffs jobs, but time will tell.
Aifos are also owners of the two luxury Guadalpin Hotels in Marbella and Puerto Banus, both of which are bing handled by the receivers or the administrators, after the creditors forced them into adminstration earlier this year.
Let's hope there's a 'swift' resolution, but Spanish courts are not renowned for their speed in dealing with matters of this nature.
Sir Alan Sugar buys luxury Hotel Byblos in Mijas, Malaga
28 July 2009
Published at 07:11 Comments (5)
According to some recent press reports, Sir Alan Sugar has just bought the luxury Hotel Byblos in Mijas. The property, which had previously belonged to the 'infamous' Spanish property developer Aifos, had been put up for auction, after the Spanish property group had defaulted on its payments to its creditors. Sir Alan acquired the property at auction through his Spanish property holding company for an amazing bargain of just under 3m Euros. The property is said to be valued at around 39m Euros, and seeing as valuers are tending to be slightly more conservative with their valuations at the moment, this deal looks like one of the best property bargains of the year! It is unclear whether he will take on any of the debt (if any) associated with the property, but either way it is a great purchase. Reports suggest the deal will be completed in the coming weeks, so we'll watch the space carefully
Adios por ahora.
Living in Spain - Protect yourself while you travel
16 September 2008
Published at 00:00 Comments (0)
Many of us who are living in Spain like to escape once in a while and venture to other parts of the world, be it scuba-driving trip to the Red Sea or long-haul tour of Asia. However, one thing is for sure, we should all make sure we are protected when we travel, especially in the recent wake of the companies such as XL Leisure and K&S going bust.
Anyway, I found out to my misfortune that without travel insurance
, things that could go wrong sometimes do go wrong, and by the time you try to back track and cover yourself it is too late.
Therefore, my advice to those of you who plan on traveling soon is to take out your travel insurance a few days in advance of your holiday. You might prefer to take out a policy which covers you to take a few trips during the year. Anyway, you can get your travel insurance here online in a simple format
(This company treated me well, and you can either apply online directly or speak to the staff who will tell you what is best for you). Read the fine print, and see what suits you and your family. Don't necessarily opt for the most expensive, but opt for the one that suits your needs. I personally have taken out the annual multi-trip policy, as that suits my family and I best. And for those of you who like the outdoor sports, such as scuba diving, skiing or snowboarding, some of the new standard policies will cover you for
Two years ago, before taking out my policy, I ended up having to pay loads when my bags were lost (Madrid airport??!!), and a hotel had cancelled my reservation, (but that's another story).
Transferring / selling your Vehicle on the Costa del Sol?!
14 September 2008
Published at 00:55 Comments (5)
For those of you looking to sell or buy a 2nd hand car on the Costa del Sol, the vehicle transfer process can be painful and pretty time consuming if you choose to do it all yourself, especially if you have to go the Jefatura de Trafico in Malaga.
However, there are various 'gestors' / admin companies which take the pain out of this job. Once such company Getsoria Regina Lopez Castlla in Malaga ( http://www.reginalopez.com). Call them to find out how much it will cost to transfer your car. The basic costs involved are as follows: 4% car transfer tax (on the governments book value of the car), transfer documentation payment (about 45 Euros), and then the admin fee which the gestor will charge. When you call them ensure you have the FICHA TECNICA (log book / car details), as they will ask you for the date the car was registered, the engine size, horsepower and the exact model. Based on these variables, they will be able to tell you how much it will cost to transfer your vehicle.
You will have to submit a transfer form (signed by seller and the buyer) together with the following documents:
- Original FICHA TECNICA
- Original PERMISO DE CIRCULACION
- COPY OF YOUR LATEST MUNICIPAL CAR TAX RECEIPT
- SELLERS PASSPORT & NIE NUMBER / GREEN RESIDENCY CERTIFICATE OR SPANISH ID CARD
- BUYERS PASSPORT & NIE NUMBER / GREEN RESIDENCY CERTIFICATE OR SPANISH ID CARD
- BUYERS PROOF OF ADDRESS (ie copy of empadronamiento is porbably best)
- Funds for the vehcile transfer ( They prefer you to do a bank transfer for security, but they will accept cash)
You can pick up one the transfer forms from a professional car dealership who deals with this gestoria. (Just ask them to tell you which dealership is closest to you). Sign the form and hand in the correct documents & payment back to local dealership. The dealership normally will send the documents on to the gestoria and a couple of days later you will get a temporary driving permit, which will enable you or the new buyer to drive the vehicle while the official transfer is completed. This can take from 2 weeks to 2 months.
That's pretty much it in theory!
Adios por ahora
Don't buy a property or get a mortgage in Spain without reading this first.
Bananas, Hangovers, and Working in Spain
09 September 2008
Published at 20:11 Comments (1)
Many of us enjoy a good night out in Spain, but before we know it we have had one too many and face the prospect of having a hangover the following day. This is especially bad news when we know we have to get up early the following morning to go to a meeting, or view a few properties with a real estate agent.
But there is cure - BANANAS:
Bananas can help cure or prevent hangovers. The main causes of hangovers are dehydration and depletion of potassium, both direct results of alcohol consumption. Bananas are an excellent source of potassium (second only to the avocado), and as well as being high in magnesium, they can help relax those pounding blood vessels causing that nasty hangover headache. Bananas also contain tryptophan, (which can help you sleep), as well as high amounts of vitamin C.
So, if you're out partying in Spain and want to avoid a hangover, drink sixteen good sips of water and eat a banana before heading for bed for a good night's sleep.
This way you can enjoy your night out and still 'enjoy' your work the following day.
Your Guide to Buying a Property and Getting a Mortgage in Spain
Taylor Wimpey to leave Gibraltar
08 September 2008
Taylor Wimpey, the UK property company, will pullout of Gibraltar next year, bringing to an end a business relationship with the Rock going back four and half decades
Published at 19:20 Comments (5)
The British company unveiled the exit plan as it reported a pre-tax loss of £1.54 billion for the first half of the year after slashing the value of its land assets. Even before the poor results were announced in August, the company said it would reduce costs by closing a third of its British offices by the end of September, shedding 900 jobs and cancelling the half-year dividend payment. But it ts its plans to leave Gibraltar that will most resonate in Gib and the South Coast of Spain.
The move was outlined in a one-line sentence in a presentation to financial analysts.
“We have plans in place to exit our business in Gibraltar, which we expect to be complete during 2009,” the results statement said.
A UK spokesman for Taylor Wimpey said the company was not in a position to add any further comments.
“We’re not giving anything more specific on this at this stage,” he said.
However, it has been suggested that Taylor Wimpey has held discussions with another construction group with a view to a possible sale of its Gibraltar assets.
No one in Taylor Woodrow’s senior management in Gibraltar has been available for comment when the news was announced. Workers at the company appeared to be no clearer as to what implications this would really have.
Taylor Woodrow first came to Gibraltar to work on projects for the Ministry of Defence over 45 years ago. The company later became involved in commercial projects and residential sales, and was the developer behind many of Gibraltar’s emblematic buildings including Queensway Quay and The Cornwalls Centre. It is currently working on two major housing projects, the Tradewinds development in Marina Bay and Filomena House.
Taylor Wimpey’s results in August come against the broader background of the credit crunch and turmoil in key housing markets. “The first half of 2008 has been characterised by the very challenging trading conditions in the UK, US and Spain,” said Norman Askew, the company’s chairman. As a result, the company was forced to write off £690 million from the value of its land portfolio to reflect the lower price it is likely to receive for home sales in the current economic climate. Some £586 million of the overall write-down relates to UK land banks, with £70.8 million relating to US assets and £33.3 million to land in Spain, where Taylor Wimpey sold just 83 properties between January and June, down more than 25%. The company also wrote down a further £816 million of intangible assets and goodwill recognised from the merger between Taylor Woodrow and George Wimpey last year.
Taylor Wimpey’s total house sales were down nearly 31% to 8,494 during the first half of 2008, with average prices for the UK private home sales dropping 10% during that period compared to a year ago. In the US, where Taylor Wimpey does around one sixth of its business, average house prices slumped 28%.
The group now faces breaching its banking covenants - which measure how well placed the firm is to repay the debt - because of its poor results, which will have a major impact on its operations worldwide.
'Most Wanted' Drug Dealer Captured in Madrid
06 September 2008
Published at 10:49 Comments (0)
On Friday the Spanish police announced the arrest of one of the most sought-after drug traffickers in the world, Edgar Guillermo Vallejo Guarin, also known as "Beto the Gypsy."
In conjunction with the US DEA and the Spanish Civil Guard, Vallejo Guarin was arrested outside a luxury hotel in central Madrid
According to sources Vallejo Guarin has a long history of violence, involvement in money laundering of drug funds and corruption of high-level government officials. He was on the 'most-wanted' list in various countries, and the United States, had offered a $5 million reward to anyone who helped bring about his capture.
In June 2001, he was accused in Florida of being a principal source of cocaine smuggled from Colombia into the United States throughout the 1990s.
"He is responsible for the shipment of a multitude of tons of cocaine via ship to the United States (especially the west coast of Florida and Miami) and Europe," a press-release said. In addition, he is suspected of being linked to various assassinations, it said.
On being arrested in Madrid sources say Vallejo Guarin was carrying false identification documentation that identified him as Jairo Gomez.
Vallejo Guarin's main residence was in a Barcelona suburb, but he had been staying in hotels across Europe and Venezuela in an apparent attempt to avoid arrest, the release said.
All in all, any efforts made to stamp out corruption and drug-dealing will only enhance Spain's economy, and hopefully put in on steady ground for the long term. The idea is to avoid the corruption problems and scandals caused over the last two years, which have really hit investors confidence in the property market.
Story of the HSBC Tower and a Spanish developer
03 September 2008
Story of the HSBC Tower and a Spanish developer
Published at 17:52 Comments (1)
Many of you know or have seen the large HSBC Tower HQ in Canary Wharf, London. Well, what many of you might not know is that the building was bought last year by one of the large Spanish Property giants - Metrovacesa. The price they paid then was about 1.1bn (Pounds Sterling). Obviously, at the time it was heralded as a fantastic opportunity with the Spanish company buying one of London's landmark buildings. Analysts alike all seemed to agree that while it was a high price to pay, it was still a deal worth doing! Large companies were buying landmark buildings left-right and centre!
Well, recent reports from analysts seem to retract those statements. The deal was a purchase and leaseback to HSBC and only gave Metrovacesa an annual return of between 3.5% to 4%!! Not brilliant if you ask me (especially when spending that kind of money)! What;s more is that HSBC loaned them a large part of the funds (800m ish) to purchase the property! So well done HSBC!
Metrovacesa now is not having the best of times and is trying to restructure some of its finances to make the payments. The building they bought for 1.1bn Pounds last year, could possibly worth 20% less today (according to some analysts), so given the tough market in Spain (and the UK), they may need a helping hand.
All in all, it just goes to show, that whether you're large developer with billions to spend, or an individual buyer with 100000 Euros to spend, always do your homework, and prepare for the worst case scenario (even if those around you are painting a rosy picture). Also, with each real estate investment you make determine whether you are in it for the long haul or short term, and ensure you can meet your mortgage/loan repayments. Only then can you satisfy yourself that is a worthwhile / comfortable investment.
YOUR 'STRIPPED-DOWN' GUIDE TO BUYING A PROPERTY & GETTING A MORTGAGE IN SPAIN
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