What Else Can go Wrong? - Chris's Story

Published on 15/11/2006 in Real Life Stories

It’s 2-½ years since we decided to relocate to Spain and in that time we have had some real ups & downs. We were out with so many estate agents it would blow you’re mind, and at one time we almost gave up. No one would show us what we wanted; they were only interested in property that we could not afford.

Everyone has a budget, and we were told that at £150,000, we would never find what we were looking for.

We looked on the coast, but couldn’t envisage living there. We were taken to Coin, thought it was awful. We were taken way out in the country, with not a soul for miles. We asked to be taken to Trabuco, and were told that only old people lived there.

We were about to give up, when we found an agent that lived in Trabuco, who was English. We had only seen pictures on the web of Trabuco, (and don’t ask me how I found it in the first place- more by luck than judgement) Trabuco appeared to be just what we were looking for. Trabuco, is midway between Granada & Malaga, so we are spoilt for airports, and only just off the motorway, (not difficult to find) and after so much time searching, it was great. Trabuco IS NOT FULL OF OLD PEOPLE, it is an up & coming white village, where the Spanish people are so welcoming, and there are English people there, which at times is a real bonus.

We were shown 2 typical town houses, & guess what we bought them both. We mortgaged our house when we returned home, and kept our fingers crossed. Everything went well & we signed for one in May & the other in July we were on a high.

As we were on such a high in March 2004 we went to see a new development in Almeria, looked just right, and we signed for 2 off-plan bungalows, there and then, - we had the cash for the deposit, plus the first & second payment totaling £80,000, which we duly paid over the next couple of months. So in July we had two Spanish houses, and two off-plan bungalows. We felt great, like property millionaires, and couldn’t wish for anymore. We thought we had our life planned out and could settle down, move over to Spain and live the life we had always dreamed of. Once the off-plans were built, we could move over to Spain, and relax, and they would be ready in 18 months.

How wrong I could be. In August of that year I lost my job, & I was the main breadwinner. Everything went downhill from there, and I became severely depressed. You see we had taken a small Spanish mortgage for the second house, and what with the mortgage back home we were broke. We kept going, only by borrowing more and more money, my partner was working all the hours he could, and I hardly saw him. The crunch came when we were faced with loosing, both our home in England, and our mortgaged home in Spain. We put our home in England up for sale, and within 2 weeks it was sold. We were then 3 months before we signed contracts in England. Dilemma! Where do we live? We were not in a position at that time to move to Spain, so we had to rent, but OH the prices! You get over one hurdle, only to be faced with another.

In November 2006, we learned that all work on the off-plan had been halted, as there was a problem with the building license. We had already been told not to pay over any more money until it was sorted, and what a relief that was as we didn’t have any. We were in serious difficulties. If only we knew then what we know now we would not have thought about buying off-plan until we had done our homework properly.

That is one reason I am writing this, to warn others about the pitfalls. We (as I’m sure many Brit’s are,) were very green, we knew nothing then about Spanish law, and had no idea what to do. We told no one about this, because we didn’t want to look stupid. We spent months trying to find out what was going on. We contacted the company we bought through; they didn’t want to know. We couldn’t get in touch with the Solicitor dealing with this for weeks. In March 2006 we had a call from our solicitor, asking what we wanted to do. We told her we just wanted our money back, as we had had enough, - thank goodness we had bank guarantees. She told us that the bank guarantees would run out in May, and that she had applied for new ones. She told us that there would be no problem getting our money back. We were cut off in mid-flow and spent weeks again trying to get hold of her again. The wheels in Spain grind exceedingly slow!

We were going over to our house in Trabuco and so spoke to our original solicitor (the local one in Trabuco) to see if she could find out what was happening. We gave her photocopies of all documents concerning Almeria, and she said that she would contact them to see if she could hurry them along, - all we wanted was our money back! As luck would have it, our solicitor in Almeria contacted us while we were in Spain, but we were cut off again, but once again she reiterated that we would get our money back. It felt like a weight was lifted off our shoulders. It is so easy to get carried away, when you are on a roll. It all seemed like a good idea at the time. We had thought that we would never see our money again.

In July we went over to see our Almeria solicitor to give her power of attorney. She told us that it would take up to 3 months to get our money back, as everyone had August off. We sought other advice, but in the end decided to leave it with her.

Where are we now? Well that’s another story, but we are still waiting!

Want some good news? We are moving to Spain in January 2007, and are going to set up our own business.

There are so many things in the pipeline, but we can’t wait, - Viva Espania.

Will keep you updated.

After all what else can go wrong??


Written by: Chris Sinclair

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Geoff said:
27 August 2012 @ 20:10

Chris, it seems you were in a serious situation so I'm wondering how things are now and whether things have got better for you, I do hope so.

spain108 said:
05 March 2012 @ 02:19

i really do strongly advise people to be careful

with solicitors and the rest in Spain....

the pain in Spain falls mainly on the buyer.....

just a Spanish person said:
14 May 2011 @ 03:04

Spanish Dream? Well, I'm Spanish and this is the first time I heard about that. To be honest, it makes me laugh. Which image do you have about our country? Sun, beach, bike riding, fishing... What I see is that you move here to live in a bubble, without caring about the rest of the country, or even learning the language. I've witnessed it in Alicante. Sorry for being ironic, but I couldn't stand it.

Eddie said:
18 October 2010 @ 16:53

Hi is that the same chris who used to live in weymouth?

Brett Turner said:
09 March 2010 @ 08:30

I know your story so well, I wrote a book called 'Want to live the Spanish Dream...forewarned is forearmed' available from www.spanishdreamadvice.com

The Spanish system is full of legal holes that are often exploited by majors and local police officials who step down after stashing away vast sums of money. This book may prevent some of the possible disasters but our quest for bargain properties has us blinkered to such basic scams.

Good luck with the business idea and rest assured that if it works you may well fine your license application delayed and a relative of the license issue department starting a similar business, my advice is get a Spanish partner.

janet said:
30 December 2006 @ 04:28

Chris i,m very sorry what happened toyou. It seems it is happening to more and more people, and puts you off buying in Spain , but unfortunately we have already commited ourselves and have to make the best of it.We would not mind if we were ten years younger.

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