Buying a bar in Fuengirola, Money paid to agent/solicitor but they have both disappeared

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12 Jun 2009 00:00 by grumpy1 Star rating. 9 posts Send private message

My husband and I were in the process of buying a bar in Fuengirola Spain.  We chose to use an English Real Estate Agent.  The agent recommended a Spanish solicitor which we also decided to use.  When we inspected the bar, the electricity supply had been disconnected, but we were told this will be reconnected before we complete.  On our return to England, we paid a deposit (which was 20% of the purchase price) to secure the bar.  A few weeks later, we received an email from the Estate Agent stating that the electricity has been rewired and they are waiting for a visit from the inspector from the electric board, which will  take place the next day.  He wanted the balance due so that we can sign contract early the following week.
 

We paid the reminder of the money due and moved to Spain, so that we can open the bar.  Two weeks later, the inspector still has not been,  and it is obvious the inspector may not visit for weeks.  We have asked both the agent and solicitor  for our money back, because we made the payment on the condition that bar was ready and contracts will be signed immediately the money was paid.    We have not heard since from the Estate Agent.  He said we should  contact the Solicitor as the money was paid into the Solicitor bank account.   We contacted he solicitor who said he has passed the money onto the Estate Agent.
 

We are not sure how the law works in Spain. We have been here 2 weeks, we have no money left as we have given most of savings to the Estate Agent/Solicitor.    We also would like to prevent out Brits for falling for this scam.   Any ideas as to what we can do?
 

 





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12 Jun 2009 20:29 by Roberto Star rating in Torremolinos. 3871 posts Send private message

Roberto´s avatar

Oh dear, what a mess. Sorry to hear that your introduction to Spain has not been a happy one. If you do end up staying here any time, you will discover that things rarely go according to plan, and often take longer than you would expect to get sorted. Perhaps this is just the beginning of a steep learning curve for you, and a taste of things to come. Try to stay positive and focussed, and hope that one day you'll be back to look back on all of it and smile.

From what you've told us so far, I have more questions than answers, but hopefully with the input from others here as well, you may be able to find some solutions to your problems.

First question has to be: do the estate agent and solicitor have offices that you can visit? Hopefully yes, in which case while you are here, you need to go park yourself in their offices and insist on answers.

Who did you actually pay the money to? And how? What contracts or agreements (in writing) do you have / have you signed so far? Is there anything - other than the electric supply - preventing you completing the deal?

Do you know if the bar has been re-wired? If so, any registered electrician can inspect it (it costs around €150, and you get a certificate called a boletín if it passes - most will be able to do it within a day or two) and then the electric company will connect you (there's obviously a connection charge).

Do you know if the bar is even able to open legally? There's no subtle way to put this - have you found out all you need to know about licences etc.? There may be a lot more involved than simply switching the power on and opening the doors.

Finally, your last paragraph; I apologise for being blunt, but if you seriously have run out of money after 2 weeks, I fear you may have made a major miscalculation when planning this venture. You cannot realistically expect to take over a bar which presumably has been closed some time, and make money straight away. There will be innumerable expenses to incur, not least of which will be stocking the bar, and especially during these economically difficult times, but even in the best of times, getting punters through the doors can be a challenge.

I am concerned from what you have told us that you have not researched this project sufficiently before jumping in, but as I said before, hopefully you will find some help and encouragement here on this forum. So ask anything you want to, and we'll do our best to assist.

 



_______________________

 

"First get your facts; then you can distort them at your leisure"

Mark Twain

 

 

 




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12 Jun 2009 20:30 by mariadecastro Star rating in Algeciras (Cadiz). 8577 posts Send private message

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I would need to revise your contract but ,as a start with, whoever you paid the money into, needs to respond.



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12 Jun 2009 20:41 by Roberto Star rating in Torremolinos. 3871 posts Send private message

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I have just seen the other post asking about the agent, Sapphire real estate. A quick Google turned up one in Marbella (albeit at what appears to be a residential address) whose website is evidently a new one quickly knocked together; presumably the one in question though is the one giving Benal Beach as their address, which is predominantly a residential complex, although there are some commercial locales there too. The website doesn't give a unit number.

Are you unable to make contact with the agent? There are 2 mobiles and one land line number given on their website.



_______________________

 

"First get your facts; then you can distort them at your leisure"

Mark Twain

 

 

 




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12 Jun 2009 20:42 by grumpy1 Star rating. 9 posts Send private message

Thanks Roberto,

We did thought we did our research and it took us over 1 year and 4 trips before we parted with our money.  The Solicitor has an office in Benalmadena.  We do have enough funds and assets to survive for another 12 months, but  intention was never to reside in a foreign contract having lost a significant amount of money, we have to decide wther to cur our losses and go back to England or stay on with the hope of finding the agent and getting our money back. 

Our research confirms that the electricity cannot be turned on except by the Sellviana Endesa Inspector.    We do not have any contract or agreement with the solicitor, but we have numerous email receipts from the Estate Agent for the payment made.

 





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12 Jun 2009 21:00 by Roberto Star rating in Torremolinos. 3871 posts Send private message

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OK. Obviously only you can decide whether to "cut your losses". If the dream has turned sour, you may prefer that option, but since you have confirmed that you do have funds set aside to survive a while, surely you would not want to give up too quickly and without a fight?

It sounds rather like you have decided you'd prefer your money back than completing the deal? My concern is, from the agent's point of view, is there any reason stopping you completing? If you choose to pull out, while the agent (or seller) says you can go ahead if you like, there's little chance of ever seeing your money again. It certainly would not be the first time I've heard of such circumstances. It sounds like there is no actual pre-sale agreement or contract between you and the seller or agent? And how was payment made? (Cash, bank transfer etc.)

As for the electric, yes, Sevillana, as the provider, will be the ones to actually connect your supply, but assuming the premises previously had a supply, getting it reconnected is no big deal. But you will need a boletín, plus the rental contract in your name. The Boletín can be provided by any registered (Spanish) electrician.



_______________________

 

"First get your facts; then you can distort them at your leisure"

Mark Twain

 

 

 




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12 Jun 2009 21:15 by grumpy1 Star rating. 9 posts Send private message

Thanks Roberto,

We will obviously prefer to stay and complete the purchase.  We have lost credibility in the agent, the full payment was made, because the agent email us to advise that everything is ready to be signed.   We would accept that if we had pull out of the agreement we will lost our deposit, but that is not is question.  We have email asking for the payment back pending when the bar will have its electricity connected.  We have been advised that it could take months for a Sellviana Endesa to visit, and it seems pointless our money sitting in someone elses bank account. 

The agent is the one in Benalmadena, we called the lan line and and told he is out in the mountains and will return call on his return.    Payment was made by bank transfer.





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12 Jun 2009 21:38 by EOS Team Star rating in In Spain of course!. 4018 posts Send private message

EOS Team´s avatar

 From what you are saying it doesn't seem you have an actual purchase contract in place, only emails. Is that correct?

I'm not a violent man but if it were me I'd be paying the agent and solicitor a very swift visit before they do actually blow your money away.

Best of luck with it.

Justin



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12 Jun 2009 21:47 by grumpy1 Star rating. 9 posts Send private message

You are correct Justin, we dont have a purchase contract in palce, all we have are emails from the agent.  Well it looks like they have pulled a fast one on us, but not for long (I hope). 





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12 Jun 2009 21:49 by Roberto Star rating in Torremolinos. 3871 posts Send private message

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Calm down Justin, it's the weekend!

So your main concern is over the electricity? Do you know how long the bar has been unoccupied? Unless it's a very old property that has been vacant for years and has not recently had an electric supply, I can't see there being any problem getting Sevillana to re-connect the supply, providing the wiring is up to standard and there is a valid boletín. Maybe others can contribute their experiences with Sevillana, but it sounds to me like someone is telling porkies. Who "advised" that a visit from Sevillana could take "months"? My suspicion is that the agent, having told you they would arrange to get the supply re-connected, discovered that an expensive re-wire will be required first. But then, why not just tell you that?



_______________________

 

"First get your facts; then you can distort them at your leisure"

Mark Twain

 

 

 




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12 Jun 2009 22:39 by grumpy1 Star rating. 9 posts Send private message

There is some porkies and that is what really worries us.  First we were told by the agent that electricity needed to be simply reconnected.  Then we were told that the  re-wiring was needed and therefore have to be turned on by Sellviana Endesa.  Our bone of contention was that the balance of the purchase price was paid because we were told the Endesa will visit on a Friday and we will sign contracts and get the keys on the following Monday.  That was over 2 weeks ago, if we had known that the Endesa visit will take this long we will not have paid the balance of the purchase price.  All we want is for them to keep the deposit and we hold on to the balance of the purchase price until the electrivity has been turned on and we can sign contracts.  Instead, they are not returning our calls, or replying to emails.  Ideally we want to take legal option available to recover our money and not resort to violent. 





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12 Jun 2009 23:38 by Roberto Star rating in Torremolinos. 3871 posts Send private message

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Violence is not an option, but unfortunately, without any valid contract with the seller / agent, there may not be any viable legal option either.

There is no point in Sevillana "visiting" unless you have a boletín first, and a rental contract for the premises. They will not connect the supply without these. If the wiring is not certified as meeting current legal standards, and if you cannot prove that you have a legitiamte right to occupy the premises, they are not going to give you a contract and connect the power for you.

If you have been told re-wiring is needed, it seems more likely this is the stumbling block. I don't believe you are "waiting" for a visit from Sevillana. This simply makes no sense.

I don't understand why the agent cannot make the situation clear for you, or indeed why they are avoiding you. I have never heard of them, but looking at their website, they seem to take pride in their professionalism and customer care. I wonder what's gone wrong? I can understand your worry. All I can suggest is that you keep trying to make contact, and when you do speak to them stay calm and ask to meet up to discuss the electric problem. If you still can't contact them, then maybe locate the offices of the solicitor, go there and ask them to help.

Best of luck, and please do keep us informed how you get on.



_______________________

 

"First get your facts; then you can distort them at your leisure"

Mark Twain

 

 

 




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15 Jun 2009 10:01 by grumpy1 Star rating. 9 posts Send private message

 

I agree, one of the factors that may us choose Sapphire Businesses and Sapphire Real Estate   was because they seem to take pride in their professionalism and customer care.   I am beginning to wonder if this is a ruse. We have sent them countless emails. If they have any ounce of decency they will at least reply and they will refund the full payment made on a bar that is not quite ready to be sold. After all we made the full payment because Sapphire Businesses and Sapphire Real Estate told us the bar was ready.  They can hold on to the deposit until the bar is ready, but not the full payment.
 
If anyone knows the owners of Sapphire Businesses and Sapphire Real Estate based in Benalmadena, can you please contact them and tell them to contact us and refund us  our money. It is the morally correct thing to do.  




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15 Jun 2009 10:57 by EOS Team Star rating in In Spain of course!. 4018 posts Send private message

EOS Team´s avatar

Have you got their contact details that are on their website:

http://www.sapphirerealestate.co.uk/page-contact-us-2.html

Justin



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Schools in Spain Guide | The Expat Files | Learn Spanish | Earn a living in Spain




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15 Jun 2009 11:22 by grumpy1 Star rating. 9 posts Send private message

There has been some movement this morning, We have just heard from solicitors telling me electricity will me connected today and we should sign contracts tomorrow.   "De ja vu", We have had it all before.  My husband and I have no choice but to wait





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15 Jun 2009 14:03 by goodstich44 Star rating in northampton. 1636 posts Send private message

grumpy1

well I hope you are connected now? If not, can you get in touch with whoever is re-connecting you, to check the appointment  has been made, and that all is well? I would work fast whatever you do and visit your lawyer and agents in person to make sure this is not yet another Spanish scam in process.  We have leaned the hard way that common sense, being in the right, and justice for those in the wrong often mean very little in Spain, and i'm sure that fact isn't lost on those who would do you down. Good luck, I really hope this turns out to be just a temporary set back.





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16 Jun 2009 10:31 by grumpy1 Star rating. 9 posts Send private message

Thanks all.  All seems to be resolved amicably.  Agents and solicitors apologized  for inconvenience caused.   Restores our  faith in human nature.  Thanks all for your help, and support





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16 Jun 2009 12:21 by TP1 Star rating in Milton Keynes and Ca.... 161 posts Send private message

Great news!  I was getting really worried for you reading this thread.

 

Good Luck in the future with your enterprise.





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16 Jun 2009 12:54 by EOS Team Star rating in In Spain of course!. 4018 posts Send private message

EOS Team´s avatar

 Great stuff!  So nice to read something positive.

Best of luck with your venture, let us know how you get on.

Justin



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Schools in Spain Guide | The Expat Files | Learn Spanish | Earn a living in Spain




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16 Jun 2009 13:18 by tech Star rating in Maidstone/Turre when.... 83 posts Send private message

Where is your bar, and what is the name of it, next time I'm in the area I'll call in for a pint or two. If I mention EOS will I get a discount?





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