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Spanish Eyes, English Words

A blended blog - Spanish life and culture meets English freelancer who often gets mistaken for Spanish senora. It's the eyes that do it, rather than the command of the language. Anything can and probably will happen here.

Buying on a community: Checks you should make before you sign the deeds
27 November 2014 @ 18:25

This post was prompted by someone who messaged me after reading my blog post about buying on a community. She asked if there was anything she could do to find out what life was really like on a particular community, and how she could avoid potential problems. To some extent, it is the luck of the draw, but there is also a lot of research you can do on your own behalf.

Talk to the President (or Vice President)

Rmember that the President is the person who is legally responsible for all aspects  of administration of the community. He may have a Vice President to assist, and a Committee to bounce ideas off, and some Presidents may involve the Committee in the decision making, but in law, it's all down to the President. So, talk to the President, raise any concerns you may have, ask about the community rules, and how the fees and the budget are calculated.

If the President is not happy to discuss  the community with you, maybe you should look elsewhere. When we were buying on La Finca, the incumbent President was very helpful, and played a big part in our decision to buy on that particular community. The best type of President is a strong character who will strike the right balance between being friendly and approachable, and also firm  and decisive when it comes to making tough decisions and acting in the best interests of the community as a whole. If everyone loves the President, he's not doing his job right.

Check out the minutes of previous AGMs

Okay, minutes can be a bit dry, and not really give you a 'feel' of the community itself, but they will give you an idea of who turns up at the meetings, and how the voting goes on decisions. If there's a good attendance at the AGMs, that means the owners are proactive in their community. If the attendance is low, and there are a lot of proxy votes - especially if the proxy votes rest with just one or two people - it's a bad sign. It indicates two things: that a lot of the community members don't really care what's going on, and that some people may be rounding up proxies to get the outcomes they want. This can happen when a vociferous minority make their preferences felt, and other community members are either intimidated or feel that it's not worth putting their views forward.

AGM minutes can also give you a good idea of how well the community budget is planned and executed, and you can see how many debtors the community has. If owners are not paying their fees, then essential community services may have to be curtailed.

Ask around locally

If there are problems in a community, the word often spreads. Just come straight out with it and say you are thinking of buying on X community, and does whoever you are talking to know if it's a good idea. Check out local expat businesses - lurk around in the English supermarket or mail room and listen to the gossip. And check out local forums for inside information.

Check out the local English language papers

Most local newspapers have an online edition with a search facility. Put the name of the community into the search engine, and see if anything interesting comes up. If there's a long running dispute, or if the community is socially active and integrated with the locals, there'll be something about it in the local English language press. It will help to give you a more rounded picture of the community and your prospective neighbours.

Putting in the research before you decide to buy a property on a community within an urbanisation could mean the difference between living the dream and being landed with the home from hell.Take the time to check it out, listen to the locals and look at the community objectively. You know it makes sense!

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Like 0


moosh said:
29 November 2014 @ 09:37

Check there arent too many Spanish residents there,they dont like to pay community charges so they tend not to bother,plus they like to close the pool from 2 until 5 in the afternoon for quiet time so they can sleep

Douch said:
29 November 2014 @ 09:50

Also talk with the Administrator of the community - do the buildings/gardens/pool etc look to be well maintained - has the Cedula (certificate of habitation) been granted.

Jacksonsadmin said:
29 November 2014 @ 12:14

Excellent article on what in the near future will become the normal in buying a house in a community.
I have written past articles on house values in communities being linked to the efficiency and transparency of the running of the same particularly with regard to members funds use.
Spain's housing recovery has started but hopefully the buying public will have become wise second time around to the community governing board and the other members being a important part of their investment.

SandrainAlgorfa said:
30 November 2014 @ 00:03

Good comments from all of you, and yes, you do have to factor in the behaviour of community members who can tend to go a bit power crazy and make decisions and act in ways that could be detrimental to everyone.

Shadbolt said:
30 November 2014 @ 13:55

Good useful information and I'm on it any other advice from anyone greatly appreciated.

ali-parandeh said:
30 November 2014 @ 14:32

I have now been working with communities for over 7 years and have some nearly one thousand communities using our platform.

Moosh, a community full of Spaniard or Foreigners, does not say anything about the way they pay. In fact Costa del Sol is full of foreign communities with debts ranging from few thousands to some nearing a million euro. I have seen all sorts. Equally, I have seen foreign communities with more restrictions that fully spanish ones.

The best way to check out a community is to ask a few neighbours and now a days, many communities have websites. search to see if you can get some information on the web. All the commmunities using our platform have a public website.

Your major source of information however, is the last AGM minutes, which gives you the health bill of the community. The Administrator or the President of the community should be able to provide you with the relevant information. Although this is considered confidential to non residents, in case of a purchase you could argue to the owner that you need to see it before purchase for due diligence. As the information you see (will not or shall not be used) for other purposes then you are complying with the data protection act.

Finall SandrainAlgorfa. To improve a community life is easy. All you need is transparency and a good communication system. Jackson's Administration and many others use a platform known as Urbytus. It is multilingual and is popular on the Costa de Sol and also north of Spain. If you live in a community, search for Urbytus and sign up your community.

Pasha01 said:
01 December 2014 @ 12:54

I am a President of 5 years now. I can say my Spanish residents do pay and also use the pool between 2 & 5pm. One did get in arrears, but I sorted out a payment plan for them and they have paid the debt off in full. They now pay monthly, which is easier for them. I would also ask how the Community finances are. Is the money spent wisely and what projects have been completed. Believe me when I say it is not easy being a President, so no matter how good at it you are. Trying to get X owners to agree all the time is never going to happen. Some think the Constitution and rules don't apply to them and they do as they like. The President is responsible for all aspects of the Community, however Spain does not do much to help them. The Banks ignor you and the adminstrators often have their hands tied and can't do much in certain situations. Some owners don't want to participate and are not the least bit interested in the Community. Imagine, if you will trying to get all you neighbours in the UK to agree. If you like a property, look at the notice board, ask to contact the President, read the AGM minutes, find out about problems around the area. Look to see if the Communial areas are well cared for as well as the other properties on the urbanisation. Try to get a feel for where you intend to buy, and visit more than once, at different times. Good luck.

Shadbolt said:
01 December 2014 @ 13:20

Thankyou, is the Administrator someone who is not a part of the community? Do some communities use a third party for example like we would use an Accountant? The President has been most helpful however while most of my questions have been answered the AGM minutes are not available! Until after we make the purchase! Perhaps this is because of confidentiality clauses or data protection. This was a bit disappointing. All the properties look very well kept as do the communal area's and we have no real concerns. It would be good to return on a number of occasions but impracticle for us being back in the UK. So researching as much as possible using various media.

Douch said:
01 December 2014 @ 13:42

It is possible for the duties of an Administrator to be carried out by the President or another owner appointed at the AGM, but usually an Administrator is a professional (like as you say an Accountant) who is well acquainted with Spanish law, and appointed to deal with budgets, collecting fees, and dealing with many other administration matters. S/he should be aware of most of the ongoing issues. Of course a professional Administrator will charge for this service. Try running Google searches to find information about the roles and responsibilities of all those involved with the running of a community.

SandrainAlgorfa said:
01 December 2014 @ 14:26

Loving all the positive responses to queries and extra information that's coming from this post. Some great advice here - thanks everyone.

ali-parandeh said:
01 December 2014 @ 15:13

Shabolt, if the president doesn't give you the minutes, the seller of the property can. As Pasha01 mentions it can reveal a lot about how the money is spent. I would certainly push the owner to get the minutes and if required sign a confidentiality agreement that you will not use the information for anything else other than the purchase or pass it on to anyone else. I certainly would not buy without seeing the minutes. If they are not providing it, then they are hiding something.

ali-parandeh said:
01 December 2014 @ 15:16

Pasha01. As you say getting everyone's agreement is a very difficult task. I have been the president for now 7 years. I am voted in because I am trusted by the majority. In the past 7 years we have had votes on many things and to my surprise on every occasion, it has always been a unanimous; 100%, agreement by all. I put it all done to our communication platform. We have always provided the information to all owners in a transparent manner and everyone is informed ahead of time before any decision is made or money spent. Try our platform and hopefully you will also be pleasently surprised and I am sure as someone who has been in for 5 years, you will be appreciated for the good job you are doing.
Best wishes.

Shadbolt said:
01 December 2014 @ 16:13

Ali-parandeh I have already tried that route but they haven't kept them apparently not much to report so didn't see the point!! I had said I wouldn't breach any data protection etc and it was only for due diligence. Only a very small urb. Didn't detect or see any issues but take your point.

ali-parandeh said:
01 December 2014 @ 16:25

Any owner at any given time is entitled to request a copy of the current or any past AGM minute from the Administrator or the President. So even if they have not kept them, they can get a copy. We have all our minutes going back to 2007.

Shadbolt said:
01 December 2014 @ 16:53

Of course and why did I not think of that - thank you. So many i's to dot and t's to cross in this buying process. Getting ahead now though thanks to everyone's assistance.

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