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A View from La Concha

A "Legal Eagle's" views on family life, the property market, the locals and expats, the beauty of the Costas and the diversity and warmth of a life lived under the Spanish sun.

Vultures
27 June 2008 @ 08:49

Vultures
 
There are very few things that amaze. Being frightened is one good way to shake down your enjoyment. Since I was in my early 20’s standing on the edge of the World Trade centre in New York – looking down – my fear of heights has become progressively worse. So my kid’s idea to take the cable car up Benalmadena Mountain was not greeted with huge enthusiasm.
 
That said it was a birthday treat! Going up a mountain dressed in skiing gear has never posed a problem - well sky lifts in Europe are head height plus and you stand sandwiched with other skiers and snow boarders such that you cannot see the outside and the DROP!!! Travelling in a chewing gum bubble the size of “Bazooka Joe’s Flashlight” - if any can remember that - is an altogether different experience.
 
On the way up with my wife and middle daughter my palms are wringing! The climb is apparently 800 metres and only 15 minutes but seated in this small cable car for such a time was purgatory!
 
Arriving at the summit to be told that the much talked about Horse show has temporarily been cancelled was a disappointment – but we’d get over it. The true highlight was the Bird of Prey show. The Griffin Vulture – bald so his feathers don’t impede his delving into a carcass - the Harris Hawk, the Chilean Eagle – with the blue plumage to camouflage him as he climbed high for an attack - were just astonishing: A rare white vulture who answered to the name “Gabby” and was allowed to fetch a morsel of meat from my heavy leather gloved left hand. Various Kites who spiralled high in the air and upon hearing “Pepe, Pepe” - as they all seemed to be called - would lock their wings and dive earth wards at great speed to catch morsels of mouse.
 
Nick the brilliant Dutch/Swedish sounding trainer and lead demonstrator gave a brilliant performance in Spanish and English. Various audience members were used as birds that’d happily peck your eyes out were sent high into the bright blue air to return for catapulted carrion.
 
That’s a weak link - what do you mean that Spain’s property market is now fast becoming a Vulture market! Exactly as is happening in the UK, opportunities in the Distressed and Repossession market grow daily. We are gearing ourselves up to handle the level of client interest that grows in line with the available stock. The sources of such property are equally broad but beware of those pieces of property stock that are being marketed as “distressed” simply because they have stuck to date as they have either been too highly priced, are in poor locations or lack quality. “Location, Location, Location” has never been more relevant!
 
On the Costa del Sol – my patch – a lot of property is starting to become available at discounted prices because of developer’s going bust. This has an obvious danger for off plan purchasers who are seeking to protect their deposit and stage payments which they have invested with a developer. We have talked before about the position of an off plan purchaser where he becomes an unsecured creditor of the developer if the developer files under Spain’s creditor protection legislation.
 
Last week I attended a Seminar to discuss debt collection in relation to Spanish companies and came across the concept of “Concurso Necesario”. I am still receiving further legal opinions as to its precise operation but I understand that it gives “suppliers” or general creditors of a Company/Developer – I would argue that an off plan purchaser falls into this category - the opportunity to commence a Procedimiento Concursal – an Administrative Receivership action - where they are clearly owed money by a Company that cannot pay. I understand that this gives such a creditor the rank of “Privilegio General” and means that they would take priority over unsecured creditors – for example – and rank alongside the Tax Office and Social Security on a “first to list first to be paid” basis.
 
Where the purchaser of an off plan development has a provable fear that their Developer is likely to file for Bankruptcy – but hasn’t taken that step as yet - then rather than waiting for the Developer to take such action wouldn’t it be more attractive for a group action by off plan purchasers to explore further the prospect of initiating such a Concurso Necesario. I have asked our legal colleagues to explore whether this may be an attractive solution for off plan purchasers to improve their position in the Administrative Receivership by being the party responsible for initiating and running the proceedings, appointing the Administrative Receiver etc.
 
There of course will be legal costs but they can be share amongst a group of creditors to reduce the overall costs per capita.
 
I am not yet confident that this will work but if it could be made to work for Creditors of a Developer wouldn’t it be great to get the boot on the other foot for a change.


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