Real Problems Buying Property in Spain

Published on 11/16/2006 in Buying Process

We recently carried out a survery of our members here at Eye on Spain asking them about their experience of buying property in SpainClick here to read the survey.

The most worrying result of the survery was that as many as 24% of respondents were either unhappy or very unhappy with the whole buying experience in Spain.  When nearly a quarter of buyers are having their dreams ruined something is obviously very wrong.  Most of you will have heard about the Town Hall corruption scandals in Manilva and Marbella on the Costa del Sol and how this has affected various new developments in those areas.  We have all heard about "conmen" operating on the coasts, unscrupulous agents who have no real interest in the buyers and incompetent lawyers who just don't do their jobs properly.

Here at Eye on Spain we receive emails EVERY day from anxious people desperate because they are literally losing thousands of Euros because they have bought on non-existent developments, or their lawyers have not picked up on clauses that means they have to complete without licences in place, and the list goes on.

But remember, 76% of the respondents of our survery were happy with their purchase in Spain so it's not bad news for everyone all the time.  Fortunately most people experience a trouble-free property buying process and can enjoy their dream home in Spain without any pain.

Now, the whole reason for our newsletter, Eye Spy Spain, is to tell things as they are.  We don't hide anything, we don't always paint a good picture but we tell the truth which most magazines you buy off the shelf don't tell you.  We live in Spain ourselves and to be honest we love it here.  We have been at the receiving end of conmen and desperate agents since we moved here two years ago but it hasn't ruined our dream of living in Spain.  We live on the Costa del Sol and I hate to say it but it is full of sharks (not the sea variety) and conmen and knowing who to trust is practically impossible.

Despite all the negative publicity about the Costa del Sol we really like it here.  From the very beginning, our aim with this website was to raise awareness and to bring peace of mind to people planning to buy or move to Spain.  From all the feedback that we get we believe that we are getting there but there is stil a long way to go and a lot more we could do.  I wonder if next year when we do our survey again the "24%" of unhappy people will be reduced....we can only hope.

The reason I'm writing this today is that this week a UK TV documentary program (a very respectable one) contacted us as they are looking into problems faced by people buying property in Spain.  Well they certainly came to the right place!  We received many emails from our members who wanted to tell their story for the documentary.  However, one of the emails that we received was not very us.  They were basically accusing us to "feeding these parasites" (i.e. the TV company) with stories that would ruin our wonderful coast.  You can imagine that although I replied to this gentleman very politely I was actually very annoyed.  If 24% of buyers are having their dreams shattered then why shouldn't they have their say?  Programs like "A Place in the Sun" paint an idyllic picture of the buying process but it's just not like that for everyone.

So today I just wanted to share with you some of the comments we received from people who are having a difficult time with their property purchase in Spain.  I have ommitted names of new developments, developers and agents as they are not relevant here today.  Next week we'll publish some of your happy stories!

Read the comments below and my advice is PLEASE carry out the necessary (and more) due diligence before buying anything in Spain (or any other country for that matter).  Any effort at the beginning will pay dividends in the long run.  Remember that for most people avoiding pain comes before seeking pleasure.

"We have had and still not resolved major problems with a builder in the Costa Blanca (Busot) Even taken the builder to court. The long story may be of interest."  - PF

"I have been having a huge problem with trying to buy an off plan property in ** ***, Costa del Sol. It has been ongoing for about 4 years now - the developer has our money (or some of it) and we have no property."  - GH

"We have been having an absolute nightmare with ***** *** ***. I'm sure you are well aware of the situation."  - AT  

"You should be recieving a number of email from the residents of ******* ** ********, next to Marbella Costa del sol,this complex was completed in Nov 2004. This was promoted by ******* *** and ******* (one of the biggest companies in spain) and built by ******. Here is the story so far................Inside the urbanization we have at least 100 retouch and building fault lists this is being completed by ONLY 4 men!!! I have been waiting since March 2005 for my property to be completed. THE FAULTS ARE VERY SEROUIS" - JM

"I have purchased 2 properties in the Marbella area off-plan, with a view to selling on before completion. They have proved impossible to sell. Real values have fallen drastically against stated market value. I have lost 75,000 euros on one property and will lose 150,000 Euros on the other. I know of others in the same situation and one person who has had an unusual and unpleasant experience, which appears to be illegal" - SA  

"I have a very interesting story to tell. It starts with me buying a property off plan and parting with a 20,000 pounds Deposit. I was promised that there would be various facilities on site none of which have materilised which also includes the main item ie,the apartment. After three and a half long years of waiting I decided to ask for my deposit back only to be told that I wouldn’t receive it as I broken the contract that I signed the fact that the developer has decided not to build the facilities doesn’t matter, also there has never been any proof of building licences or bank guarantees given to any of the purchasers. Sting in the tail is when you receive a phone call from the developer asking me to assist him in sueing the local mayor for liable even though he refuses to recognise me in any other way.He has also done this to a couple of elderly retired people this amounts to a legal form of theft assisted by the agents whom we purchased through , it would appear that the agents tell you a story that is straight out of a childrens story book." - TS

"The property details were wrong as it had been discribed as being only 30 minutes drive from Raquatas de Mar in fact it is nearly 1 and half if you drive carefully down mountain road. But we liked the position and the first phase of the development so went home and paid up the rest of the money they wanted. We had already placed a deposit without seeing it as we had been assured nothing could go wrong. Then in 2004 flew out twice not a lot going on and it was not until 2005 that we realised that things were going seriously wrong, for although building had progressed in April of that year by September things were still the same, as we went out to visit. No workers were on site and no work being done also development was huge and looked deserted, and neglected. ****** ********** have lied and lied again, no apology nothing , they do not answer emails, or letters. PLEASE HELP" - YW

And that is just a small selection of some of the emails that we have received.  Remember, do your homework, research everything, talk to friends and family with experience and get a good lawyer (yes there are some around).

Written by: Justin Aldridge

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Roberto said:
Thursday, November 30, 2006 @ 6:20 PM

It occurs to me that websites like yours are bound to carry more negative stories than positive - people love to use them to get things off their chest! I personally submitted an article about our community, not because it was all good news, but simply to warn others of potential problems. After all, we learn by our mistakes. Why not share them, so others can benefit? (Eleanor Roosevelt said "Learn from the mistakes of others; you won't live long enough to make them all yourself").
The survey results are interesting, but perhaps we should bear in mind that people who had bad experiences are more likely to respond to such surveys. I am surprised the "unhappy" figure is so low! (I have had pretty satisfactory experiences so far - my apologies, but I didn't bother responding to the survey!)
By the way, Royboy, we bought a property off-plan July 05, and sold it during construction May 06 for a modest but satsisfactory profit. It's not easy, but it is possible.

Royboy said:
Wednesday, November 29, 2006 @ 4:10 PM

Hello Justin,
Your website is very good. It's very professional and informative. However, I think it paints far too rosy a picture of what's going on, particularly on the Costa Del Sol.
I paid a deposit of £55000 (yes, Sterling) in June 04, and we have not completed yet. The reasons for not completing are many fold, but mainly because the specifications are nowhere near what the original blurb stated, and some of the workmanship is very shoddy. And, more worryingly, we feel we were conned by the original salesman who, not surprisingly, has disaapeared long ago. We were told that we were front line golf .... we're not; we were told that ours was the only development on the mountainside ...... we are surrounded by five others that have been started since we put the deposit down; we were told that there would be a sports complex ..... there won't be; we were told that 24 hour security would be provided .... it won't be. The list goes on, and it seems that the "Developers" are reneging on most of the original specs .... our "luxury" apartment is anything but ! We were told that a re-sale would be no problem ..... that there were people queueing up to buy before completions ...... Do YOU, Eye on Spain, know of ANYBODY who has resold (without making a huge loss !?). The people who we dealt with first of all have found a " multi purchaser" ...... but, of course, he wants to buy extremely cheap .......... meaning that we stand to lose about £20,000 ......... that smells like a typical Estate Agent scam to me ......... I wonder what the author of the article defending Estate Agents thinks about that ........ to my mind, Estate Agents are the lowest form of ......... you can guess the rest.

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