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Our House in the Alpujarras

Our Experiences of owning a village house in a small community in The Alpujarras in a village called Yegen.

In The Beginning
22 December 2012 @ 22:12

As I said in the introduction we began thinking that we'd like to own a second home in Spain when we visited my in-laws 12 years ago for the first time and we tasted spanish life in a traditional setting in a place called Competa. But it was only in September 2010 that we actually doubled the size of our mortgage in England and approached a spanish lender to apply for a mortgage. 

1. You are told to buy in Spain you should allow 10% for all you're fees. NOT if you need a mortgage and want the services of a good solicitor. Our total expenses came to 16% of the purchase price. So be under no illusion it's going to cost you more than you think.

Having got a spanish mortgage agreed in principle it was time to find a property that we liked. The first property that we saw and fell in love with was not to be.

2. Since the spanish lenders got their fingers burnt they have tightened up their lending criteria, not a foreigners thing but to Spaniards too. So initial enquries on property one revealed that the property was built on RUSTICO. There are two types of land in Spain. URBANA (Urban) land where houses are built and most buildings in and immediately around a village,town or city will almost certainly be on Urbana. RUSTICO (agricultural) land is for farming and apart from Naves, Almacens and other farm buildings, nothing else should be built on Rustico. The consequences are if a house is built on Rustico look long and hard as to wether it is legal and if you want a mortgage forget it ! Because lenders will not lend on such a building. 

Having learned from this we began looking at property that would be allowed by the lender.

3. If you use an estate agent in Spain the usual fee is 3% of purchase price. Some although not all agents regard it as perfectly common place for this to be paid by the buyer and not the seller as in England. So make sure you check first. Some agents will have property on their books that they know to be illegal and built without permission and it is only if you ask the right things will they volunteer this information. After all it is not illegal to sell it and you will only find out when they serve a notice on you to pull it down.

So we found eventually the house in Yegen (or rather 2 houses as it is). It was built on Urbana so we should be OK. But NO

4. Intial searches showed this property was built on Urban land but both houses were detailed on the deeds (escritura) as being about 20 sq metres. It was obvious that what was there in reality was considerably larger.

So the bank insisted that the deeds had to be updated properly to reflect that the houses were bigger and contained more rooms etc. The seller then had to have an architect out to draw up plans and an up to date description of the property. As well as this the increase in size meant that it was likely that the property had gone over the boundaries set onto neighbours land. Therefore all those who may object to this had to be written to to give them the opportunity to object to the larger property encroaching. Thankfully all those who lived around the property made no such objections. Therefore this could at any stage have stopped the lending process for us and put the whole deal off. It also cost the seller a considerable sum of money to put right. They will thank me not to be too specific on the figure.

After 9 months the day came to go to the Notary's office with our solicitor, the bank lending and representatives of the selling party. An interpreter was hired (yep another 236 euros) to make sure we understood each and every part of the process. 

5. The appearance before the notary was probably no more than 20 minutes but we were there for nearly 3 hours in total so be prepared for half you're day to disappear.

We got the keys at last and the property was ours. We already had a bank account fortunately with the bank lending us the mortgage so that was set up. We decided to take the life insurance and house insurance required for the mortgage with the bank for ease.

6. Days after signing the bank too over 500 euros from the account which was actually more than was left in it. It was for the house insurance "You did want to pay a whole year for both house in one payment didn't you ?" They don't do it monthly as a matter of course and the best we could have had was quarterly.

Fortunately my solicitor had taken care of the whole process and had also sorted out our Wills

7. English wills count for nothing in Spain. If you have not made a spanish will don't expect you're loved one's to benefit automatically when you die.

Having moved in the bills had to be changed into our name. So my solicitor contacted the electricity company. Ah a new owner time for red tape.

8. If you buy a house to get connected to the electricity you will have to get a recognised electrician to go to you're house and make a stamped report that you're electrics (fuse board etc) are modern and comply with regulations. This can cost up to 300 euros (At the time of writing I await my bill). This buleton or report will be sent to the electricity company. Then they will connect you !! NO Then they will send their own guy to make sure you're electrician is telling the truth and knows what he's doing before they will connect you to the supply.

Well the purpose of writing the above was to guide you through the minefield that is buying a property in Spain and hopefully you will be wiser to these things than we were. But what ever else you do.

GET A GOOD INDEPENDANT BI-LINGUAL SOLICITOR. (Not the one the agent suggests or the bloke at the town hall who will do it on the cheap)


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