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Count von Zeppelin, a retired German army officer, flew his first airship in These documents refer to a Zeppelin raid on Hull in June large numbers of aeroplanes, not just for reconnaissance, but as fighter air support and as bombers. After the war both Britain and Germany continued to develop airships for.

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This tax is Chapter 2: Considering the Cost of Spanish Buying 33 the responsibility of the person occupying the property on 1 January of each year. This tax is due annually and varies from 0. The higher the value of your property, the more tax you pay. Taxing your departure Property is an eye-opener when it comes to seeing just how many ways a government can put its fingers into your pie and grab a slice of tax. See Chapter 11 for how to decide what price to register, as it may not be the actual price paid.

Income tax rates in Spain and the UK are very different and, in most cases, less favourable than capital taxes. For nonresidents, the flat tax rate is 35 per cent. The sale must be declared on your tax return. To qualify, you must have lived in the property for a minimum of three years or sold it because of changing 34 Part I: Preparing for Your Spanish Buying Adventure circumstances, such as a new job, marriage, or separation. The gain is deferred, to be taxed on the eventual sale of the reinvestment — that is, the newly purchased property.

But if you rent out or sell the property, your British tax situation becomes a little more complicated. This is not an easy choice, and not one that is totally up to you to decide, because of rules governing tax residency. I deal with the taxing issue of taxes in Chapter 13, and you can find help on this question there. As far as Spanish property law is concerned, the good news is that foreigners have the same rights and obligations as the locals. The bad news is that although Spanish property law has similarities with UK property law, Spanish law has significant differences.

Starting with the assumption that Spanish property law is unique means you will be well-prepared. The same goes for nearly everything else — and everybody else — about a Spanish property transaction, from finding an estate agent to getting a survey done. In this chapter I introduce you to your Spanish property team.

Sure, you can run the show as if you are working for MI6 and keep everything to yourself. Estate agents play a crucial role in matching supply and demand. Despite appearing to sit between buyers and sellers in the housing supply chain, estate agents are appointed by sellers to look after their interests. But think again: Estate agents are realists. They know it takes two to tango in the housing market, and, as the person with the cash, you are going to lead the dance. Until a property is sold, estate agents are out of pocket for their services. Estate agents need a buyer to get paid. The seller is nominally paying the estate agent, but in fact the agent is busy working to find you the property of your dreams.

Estate agents have hundreds of villas, apartments, and plots of land on their books. They also have links with dozens of other estate agents, who in turn have hundreds more properties for sale. If one agent ends up selling a property on the books of another estate agent, the agents split the sales commission.

Getting an estate agent on your side If you maintain a good relationship with your estate agent and you handle the relationship right your estate agent can be working for you on your team while being on the payroll of someone else. In other words, you have a free resource, and your estate agent can Chapter 3: Assembling Your Team 37 take much of the sweat out of the job of finding your Spanish home. Far from being an irritation, your inquisitiveness will prove your interest in doing the deal.

Ask at the outset how quickly the seller wants to sell or how soon the seller can vacate the place. Try to have your money in place before you start to look for property. Ready cash can also give you the edge over other potential buyers. Keep a record of your dealings with your estate agent.

Note down telephone conversations that you have with them, including who you spoke to, when you spoke, and what you both said. Your thoroughness will demonstrate your professionalism and keep your agent on her toes. Keeping records may also help to avoid any disputes further down the line if something that you thought was agreed is later denied.

Knowing what to expect for your their money Advertised Spanish property has a built-in commission payable to the estate agent, with anything from 5 to 10 per cent being the norm. So you can expect the best estate agents to work hard for their money. The chances are she will pitch in your direction anything within your price band and 10 per cent above on the off-chance that something strikes a chord. The property had to be detached, in a country location, and have some outbuildings to convert. Bill and Jenny ended up buying the middle part of an old building conversion, with neighbours on either side, in a small town, and within sight of the main railway line, with the station being 10 kilometres further on.

That the house had a great swimming pool and was available immediately were the clinching factors. The most professional agents fix up everything, including flights, hotels, and taxis. Finding an estate agent In Spain, estate agents are called inmobiliarias. You may find that some of the Spanish and British estate agents have merged and formed joint ventures. Some estate agencies are big concerns, and others are one-man bands. The size of the agency is not much of a guide to its competence. Misconduct by an API agent can result in the agent being fined and even having her licence withdrawn.

The network provides a service allowing you to search through a joint listing of properties held by member offices. Member agents subscribe to a strict code of conduct. Membership is rather like an exclusive partnership or club. The best way to find an estate agent is by word of mouth from a satisfied client whom you know and trust and whose judgement you respect. Failing that, you have to hunt out an agent yourself.

You can find estate agents listed by region with details of their Web sites, from which you can then find details of their professional bodies, on the following two Web sites: www. However, in the UK, a lot of people have jumped on the overseas 40 Part I: Preparing for Your Spanish Buying Adventure property bandwagon — some with little or no previous experience of dealing in property.

You are far better off dealing with established estate agents with a strong UK track record or who are members of the Federation of Overseas Property Developers, Agents and Consultants phone: ; www. You can find a full A—Z listing of members on the Web site. Colliers focuses mainly on corporate property and handles a range of domestic investment properties. Rental, management, and professional surveying services are also offered throughout the region. Their UK and locally recruited bilingual staff are fully trained in UK and Spanish conveyancing and have a thorough knowledge of the region the company covers.

Propertiesabroad collaborates with selected agencies and developers all over Spain and other countries enabling them to offer expert local knowledge to people wanting to buy existing or new-build properties.

Do I recommend buying property in the Torrevieja area?

Chapter 3: Assembling Your Team 41 Avoiding pitfalls Involving yourself in sizeable property transactions needs care. Introducers latch on until an opportunity arises to introduce themselves — an obliging English speaker who just happens to know of a special bargain dream house that is not known to the market at large. No one works for nothing, so these people will have an arrangement with an estate agent who can load the deal to pay off the introducer. No seller in her right mind is likely to surround the sale of her property in a veil of secrecy.

One rule applies to anything and everything involving contracts and money: always take legal advice. Estate agents may tell you that if the transaction is straightforward, they can save you the 1—1. Only at that stage do the real problems, such as the ways in to and out of the property, and title, boundaries, and access, show up.

Take special care if you are buying a property from someone with several adjoining properties to sell, as they have no interest in paying legal fees to put these matters in good order. Although the seller pays the estate agent, as soon as you show any serious interest in a property, you will be asked to put your hand in your pocket.

As soon as you have seen a property, or perhaps even before, you may be asked to put down a deposit to secure the property. Your best option is to put down a reservation deposit so we can keep the property for you. The advantage of dealing with licensed agents is that they, like lawyers and other professionals, are regulated and you can claim financially against the governing body if you are dissatisfied. Working with an unlicensed estate agent is more risky.

You can also see whether the company holds a current GIPE or API licence, the name of the individual who holds the licence, and details of other professional bodies and associations the estate agent is affiliated to. Few Spanish estate agents are bonded with professional indemnity insurance or carry malpractice insurance.

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Buying a home in Spain

Those that are bonded limit their insurance coverage to a few hundred euros. Be prudent and limit your relationship with estate agents introducing you to the deal. Let your lawyer do the rest of the work. Often, buyers rush out to find a lawyer only when they hit snags after paying a deposit — or, worse still, signing a contract. Find a reputable firm specialising in Spanish property law in your own country or use a Spanish lawyer abogado in the area where you want to buy. Most abogados speak good English, especially in areas popular with expats. Always use an abogado recommended by somebody you trust.

A handful of UK-based lawyers deal purely with overseas property conveyancing. However, a UK lawyer might not always be as conversant with specific local laws as a local lawyer, who understands the rules and regulations relating to her particular area, especially as the rules and regulations can change radically from province to province.

Your abogado draws up an initial pre-sale contract, handles the payment of the customary 10 per cent deposit, and goes with you to the notario notary for the final exchange of contracts. Nabbing a notary Property transactions in Spain are looked after by a notario who takes care of the legal bureaucracy. A notario carries out checks on the property and makes sure that all the paperwork is in precisely the correct order for smooth processing by the Land Registry, so that registration can take place. The notario also has a responsibility to make sure that you pay the appropriate property taxes on time.

You absolutely have to use a notario, because under Spanish law only deeds of sale witnessed and authorised by a notario can be registered at the Land Registry. Without registration, ownership transfer is not complete. In theory, you can get round this process, because a private contract between two parties for the sale of property, or indeed anything, is legally binding on the two parties concerned. However, a third party — say, an organisation granting a mortgage on the property — will be excluded from such an arrangement.

So, in practice, a notario must witness all sale of property in Spain. In more remote areas of Spain, you may be unable to find a notario who speaks enough English to explain the process to you. The notario is not there to look after your interests, so you also need your own lawyer. This is where lawyers — particularly UK lawyers with Spanish property expertise — come into their own. Finding the best Because the notario performs a neutral function, finding a notario is straightforward.

The local phone book gives details of notarios, and the estate agent you are dealing with has a handful of regulars to choose from. Finding a UK lawyer with the necessary skill is less easy. Your existing lawyer is unlikely to have the right expertise. Ideally, try to find a lawyer through the personal recommendation of someone whose judgement you respect and who has successfully bought a property in Spain. The Web site lists more than UK solicitors who speak Spanish. In effect, the appointed person assumes full responsibility for making your decisions and committing you irrevocably to certain things by signing documents on your behalf.

However, for your own peace of mind, and to give you some idea of what to budget for over and above the purchase price to make your property shipshape, a survey is not something to be skipped. If a seller refuses you permission to do a survey, be deeply suspicious and look for another property, preferably through another estate agent. But if you just want to keep the bank happy, a simple valuation may be enough.

The survey is most likely to be needed if the property is of unusual construction, is dilapidated, or has been altered extensively. The report includes extensive technical information on the construction and materials as well as details of the whole range of defects, both major and minor. A valuation is not normally included with this survey but can be provided at a modest additional charge. Delivered in a standard template-based format, the report focuses on urgent and significant defects that affect the value of the property.

The survey is designed to assist the prospective buyer in making an informed judgement on whether to proceed with a purchase. Unfortunately, neither has an English-language Web site, but with a little help you can make out their services. Your best bet is to follow up on the leads you get by going to property exhibitions, reading the relevant press, and searching on the Internet. In Chapter 4, I look at ways to find out about properties and advisors in Spain. Personal recommendation is the best way to choose a surveyor.

Such surveyors are easy to find, as they attend most of the international property exhibitions and advertise in magazines selling Spanish property. If you use a UK-based lawyer with relevant Spanish property expertise, the lawyer should be able to recommend a UK-based surveyor. If you use a UK surveyor, make sure the surveyor really understands Spanish building methods and the local regulations. Most UK-based surveyors cost a little more than Spanish surveyors, but at least you can read the survey in the English version and ask any questions you may have.

Lost in Translation: Taking On a Translator All the people you have on your team are professionals and speak the language and jargon of their trades. Spanish estate agents who are fluent in English can help, but they 48 Part I: Preparing for Your Spanish Buying Adventure are hardly a source of unbiased advice. And Spanish estate agents may not have the necessary legal knowledge.

Even if your notario does speak good English, she almost certainly will know little or nothing about the international dimensions of the transaction, such as matters of UK taxation. The attitude of Spanish notaries on the need for interpreters at crucial meetings, for example, is variable, to say the least. Written translations are not provided as a matter of course. As with much about buying property in Spain, you have to take your own precautions. Even if you speak Spanish, you may not feel up to handling multiple conversations going on simultaneously, as you have to do when you come to sign the deeds.

Your lawyer may be able and prepared to summarise the areas that she thinks are important in a letter, or may even have translated any areas of potential concern. But unless your lawyer or the person she relies on for translation is reasonably competent in the technical aspects of surveying or building work, much vital information can be lost.

Looking for a linguist The following four organisations can provide you with someone to translate technical documents or can supply a translator for crucial meetings. Make sure anyone you consider has worked in the property field before and ideally has dealt with structural and building matters as well as legal issues. All members are required to have full professional indemnity insurance cover to safeguard the interests of the translation purchaser.

The institute runs a company called Language Services Ltd www. Taking someone out from the UK is an expensive option. An alternative is to hire an interpreter in Spain, where rates are around 30 per cent lower, and travel costs minimal. To save costs, consider using a telephone translation service. This works by setting up a conference call using a telephone with a loudspeaker at an agreed time. In this chapter I tell you about the different ways of getting to and from Spain, regional climates and how they can influence your choice of location, the various types of properties available, and the importance of doing your homework so that you end up with a home in Spain that you can afford and find appealing.

What is likely to be taxing is working your way through the thousand and one carriers, old and new, plying between dozens of airports and harbours in the UK and a similar number of destinations in Spain and its islands. Scores of travel agents advertise their services on the Internet. Most Web sites allow you to enter your dates of travel, departure point, and destination; the site then produces a list of flights and fares from which you can choose.

Two respected online travel agents are Travelocity www. Travelocity and Expedia offer an excellent range of options for booking flights and package tours, reserving hotels, and sorting out car rental. Airlines regularly offer last-minute specials, such as weekend deals and Internetonly fares, to fill empty seats. Most of these specials are announced on Tuesdays or Wednesdays and can only be purchased online.

Specials are usually valid for travel only that coming weekend, but some can be booked weeks or even months in advance. Check out the sites compiling comprehensive lists of last-minute specials, such as www. As a potential property investor, you must consider what can happen if a budget airline pulls the plug on your route or goes bust. Budget airlines dump routes and alter timetables at will. Make sure that at least two airlines service your destination and that a wide variety of major cities around the world also serve the area.

There you find two parallel pull-down menus, the left-hand one asking where you are travelling from and the right-hand one allowing you to choose your destination. Entering a request for information on available low-cost airline flights between the UK and Spain shows all the airports served at both ends. Then select your city to show all the Spanish airports served by the low-cost airlines covering the route. They also want to know something about how enjoyable or otherwise the flight will be. Seat Guru gives comprehensive seat and aircraft information for 29 airlines.

The Web site offers tips on check-in, baggage, unaccompanied minors, and travelling with infants and pets. The Web site has almost everything you need to know about your journey, including how to get to and from the airport, which on occasions is up to kilometres away from the city or town it services.

The information includes public transport bus, train, metro routes, costs and timetables; taxi services and costs; and details of motorway links. Information on transfers between terminals, car parking, shop and restaurant facilities, and left-luggage is also included. An airport that is costly and time-consuming to get to and has few facilities is unlikely to influence property prices in the area. You have a choice of restaurants, bars, cinemas, and nightclubs thrown in for good measure, as are lectures on subjects of interest. The ship departs Portsmouth in the evening and arrives in Bilbao in time for breakfast, after two nights onboard.

Returning, the ship sails from Bilbao at around midday and arrives in Portsmouth late in the afternoon of the next day. For sailing days, fares, and online booking, visit www. Madrid is six hours away by train or an hour by plane. The voyage takes 24 hours. Check out www. Ferry fares to Spain are generally expensive, so shop around. Two companies specialising in discount fares are Channel Travel www. Getting to Spain by sea involves crossing the notorious Bay of Biscay. Unless you and your family are exceptionally good sailors, try to avoid this way of travelling in bad weather.

Check the weather reports on the Met Office Web site www. Have a look at the aptly named www. Driving all the way Motorways and roads to Spain are good, but the distance is long. Going by car takes 26 hours to get from London to Barcelona and 28 hours to Madrid. Add another six to ten hours to reach the southern Mediterranean coast.

Eurolines phone: ; www. The buses and coaches on these routes are comfortable, but remember to take a few good books and lots to eat and drink. You may make lots of new acquaintances on the bus and even be lucky enough to meet someone who knows about the Spanish property market. Driving yourself By car, you have various options: You can take the ferry from Plymouth to Santander, which is the shortest car route but the longest boat route. If you plan to stick to motorways, you have a 2,kilometre journey from London to Malaga, which, though potentially an adventure, takes three to five days to complete.

Roads can be extremely busy in the summer months. Add to this the high cost of motorway tolls coming through France, and you may find that driving is an expensive and less-than-enjoyable experience. Unless, that is, you include the journey as part of your preliminary reconnaissance of the country. You can find information on motorway routes and tolls at www. If you do decide to drive to Spain, why not break up your journey into a mini tour? Doing so means that the tortuous journey becomes fun and you can do lots of fabulous things on the way. And remember: Stop to eat at the places where you see lots of lorries, as truck drivers seem to know the best places to eat.

Letting the train take the strain You can reach Spain by rail from the UK, but not without changing trains. The Gran Classe bedrooms even have en-suite toilets and showers. The returning train leaves Madrid in the early evening and gets into Paris the next morning. From there, the Eurostar arrives in London before midday. This is a Web site run as a hobby, although very professionally, by Mark Smith, a career railwayman who worked for British Rail. Mark found that travelling by train from London to Europe was easy, but getting information was remarkably difficult, as no one seemed to provide online train times, fares, and booking information for train journeys from the UK to mainland Europe and beyond, especially where a boat trip was involved.

This Web site does provide this information. The easiest and cheapest way to book the Eurostar and the trainhotel is online at www. Look for the Englishlanguage button — a British flag in the lower left corner. To get the cheapest fares, book the journey in two separate stages: London to Paris and back, and Paris to Spain and back. If you try to book from London to Spain in one go, none of the cheap trainhotel fares shows up. Travelling within Spain Spain is pretty easy to get around. The network of trains criss-crosses Spain, allowing you to travel to all but the smallest of towns.

Although slow and inefficient in the past, RENFE trains have improved in recent years, now enjoying a 98 per cent punctuality rate. Primary long-distance routes are served by night express trains with firstand second-class seats as well as bunks literas. Many stations are equipped with automatic vending machines.

Generally, reservations are only necessary during the high season and for overnight sleeper berths and the high-speed AVE trains. Make reservations in person at the train station or call the local RENFE office or their toll-free number in Spain phone: When reserving your ticket, ask for either one-way ida or round-trip ida y vuelta. Economy class is turista, and first class is primera clase. Buses are often cheap as dirt and go everywhere, but can be hot, crowded, uncomfortable, and smoke-filled. The biggest exceptions to this rule are the buses to Toledo and around the Basque Country, which are faster and more frequent than the trains.

This is ideal while you are doing the broad research sweep to get a fix on where exactly you want to settle down. On the other hand, renting a car is more expensive than travelling by train or bus, and you need to worry Breakdown! In the event of a vehicle breakdown, look for emergency phone boxes on major motorways.

For assistance, call Chapter 4: Finding Your Dream Home 59 about the business of driving in Spain — for example, reading maps, negotiating traffic and one-way systems, and following street signs in Spanish or Catalan. Arranging car rental before leaving home is a good idea, or you risk not getting a car or the car of your choice during the high season in popular areas. Most major car-rental companies maintain offices throughout Spain.

Spaniards drive on the right of the road, and they drive fast. When they pass on the left, they often zoom up quite close before darting around the car in front of them. They may also honk their horns as they move to pass you. The prefix A- or E- the latter a European Union designation precedes autopista numbers on road signs. Exits are labelled salida, except in Catalonia, where the sign reads sortida. Carreteras nacionales are countrywide main roads designated by N- and a Roman numeral.

To turn around and go in the other direction on a highway, look for the sign that reads cambio de sentido change of direction or shows a U-turn arrow. Spaniards tend to drive as though the entire country was one big southern European racetrack, but, in fact, speed limits do exist. You will notice that Spanish streets, in both big cities and small villages, are very narrow.

Driving in such intimate company may take you some time to get used to. Many cities have blue zone zona azul areas where you can park in a metered spot. Parking hours are from 8 a. Non-metered parking is virtually impossible to find. In underground parking areas, collect the ticket and pay when you leave. Never leave anything inside your car in full view.

Break-ins and theft of rental cars, especially in Madrid and Andalusia, are not uncommon. Choosing Where to Look Spain is a big country — twice the size of the UK — with some big empty spaces. The population of each square kilometre is less than a third of that in the UK. So you have plenty of choice! Bright lights, big city — or just plain country? Spain has six big cities, all vibrant and exciting, but none the size of London, Paris, or New York. Outside the big cities, the country is liberally dotted with towns with populations ranging from 20, to 40, people.

Smaller towns have banks, gyms, cinemas, and local bars and restaurants — all things that may be in short supply in the rural areas. Remember, too, that even though you may have had a wonderful time in a remote rural area with a friend or partner, the same area may not be quite so attractive when you are on your own. Finally, the country offers few work opportunities and no cinemas, theatres, or museums.

Travel is difficult and expensive. But, of course, in the country, you have a better chance of owning property with a view worth writing home about, and property may well be far less expensive than in a town. Beaches or mountains — or something in the middle? Then have a look at Chapter 9 to discover life in the islands, where the sea is rarely more than a handful of kilometres away. Why not aim for the best of both worlds? Travel an hour or so inland, where you can find dozens of attractive towns and hamlets with more affordable properties and more permanent neighbours and facilities.

If you come from England, Luxemburg, Belgium, or a host of other countries, your knowledge of life more than 1, metres above sea level may be limited. Such places have no mountains to speak of, only scattered areas of rolling hills. Ben Nevis only reaches to 1, metres.

In Spain, the average altitude is metres above sea level, and a sixth of the country stands above 1, metres. Looking at a population-density map, you can see how thinly populated the interior of Spain is, especially in the mountain regions. Chapter 4: Finding Your Dream Home 63 Despite the common assumption that Spain is all sea, sun, and sand, the weather can vary enormously around Spain. The temperature across the country ranges from a minimum average of 4 degrees Celsius 39 degrees Fahrenheit on the northern Atlantic coast in January to a maximum average of 35 degrees Celsius 95 degrees Fahrenheit in Seville in July.

Weather-wise, Spain is divided into two main regions. The northern region, covering about a third of the country, bordered by the Atlantic coast and stretching westwards through the Pyrenees, has a maritime northern climate that is often unpredictable and rainy. The other region, covering about two-thirds of Spain, is dryer and more predictable when it comes to sunshine. The Mediterranean coastline and the surrounding area has a pattern of hot summers and mild balmy winters — not words you would apply to the UK. Central areas in the southern part of Spain are generally several hundred metres higher than the coast and can be arid in the summer and bitterly cold in winter.

The climate is generally very good, with infrequent rain. The climate is brilliant, with sunny days and blue skies. Meanwhile, the high mountain ranges in both the north and the south offer excellent conditions for winter sports. The information is based on the latest eight to ten years of historical weather readings. Beginning Your Search Properties on the market in Spain range from caravans to mansions, and everything in between. Start by doing your research at home. Unless you have a clear idea of what type of property you want, where you want it, and what you want it for, keep your search criteria wide.

Picking property types Most foreigners stick to the coastal areas and new purpose-built houses. Apartments range from single-room studios to luxurious five-bedroom mansions in the sky. An advantage of living in an apartment is that all the owners in one block have to be members of the communidad de proprietarios and share the upkeep costs of common facilities such as swimming pools, gardens, and access roads skip to Chapter 6 to find out about apartment living.

Beware though, particularly in resort areas, apartments can be noisy and the roads may be busy. In Chapter 14 I talk about how to make money out of your property. Resale properties are older houses that are up for sale and, like second-hand Chapter 4: Finding Your Dream Home 65 cars, are less expensive than equivalent-sized new properties. They are usually sold with their furniture, making it easier and cheaper to move.

Check out Daltons Property www. Many sites offer full facilities, including swimming pools, entertainment, and bars. You need a plot of land and planning permission, but the building costs are less than half those for a conventional house. But remember: A log cabin may not be the best place to live in deepest winter, especially in the mountains. Townhouses often have a garage below and a sun terrace on the roof, with many — perhaps too many — stairs in between.

Modern townhouses are mostly in complexes with shared pools. If you decide to forgo a beach frontage, you can expect a lot more space both inside and outside for the same money. Villas are common throughout the Costas. Most of the early villas were built in the s, and many need substantial renovation work to bring them up to standard. Modern villas are often built in complexes with shared pools. A shady garden is important in Spain, where 3, hours a year of sunshine is not uncommon.

Moving To Spain? Get A Quote…

Older properties in the same location as newer properties of a similar size are often cheaper. But an older building and its contents can look tired and need sprucing up, and the building may not have air-conditioning. Unlike new-build properties, resale properties in Spain do not come with guarantees. Therefore, you need to take time to assess the property and seek professional advice on its structural condition.

Are you buying a property in Spain for dummies? A simple explanation - Fuster Associates

Sussing out shows: Overseas property exhibitions Dozens of exhibitions run all over the UK, and indeed the world, focusing on various aspects of buying property in Spain. Property exhibitions display photos, show videos, and give details of properties for sale. An EMIGRATE exhibition typically has immigration officials on hand from a number of countries to explain the procedures and even to process immigration applications.

I list here some of the major overseas property exhibitions, but keep an eye open for details of other exhibitions, as more are launched every year and many national organisations also run regional road shows. Local newspapers advertise hundreds of smaller property shows, usually held at hotels. Doing it yourself: Newspapers, magazines, and Web sites Estate agents and lawyers are usually the first people you come into contact with when you seriously start searching for a property check out Chapter 3 to see how to get these professionals and others into your search team.

But you can get a head start by finding out for yourself what is currently on the market by looking at newspapers, magazines, and Web sites. Reading the news Almost all of the Sunday papers and many of the dailies in the UK have overseas property sections. You can find articles on most aspects of living abroad, ranging from finding a mortgage to getting medical coverage and pension rights.

In a recent count, UK newspapers listed over Spanish properties for sale in one month. Glossy magazines sometimes feature new Spanish resorts, often adjacent to golf courses and marinas. They are distributed in supermarkets and newsagents across the UK and Europe. The first three issues are free, so you can taste before you buy. Each issue has around pages of property information, lifestyle guides, and details of the latest property developments.

The TV programme www. The TV Web site has some basic fact files on Spanish regions. Its Frequently Asked Questions section covers a range of the most usual topics as well as containing the answers to the most frequent questions from readers for the preceding four months. A growing number of English-language papers and magazines are published and distributed in Spain, aimed at both the expat Chapter 4: Finding Your Dream Home 69 communities and property buyers in general.

For key words and phrases associated with property dealing, have a look at the Appendix. Check out On-Line Newspapers www. Surfing the Net The Internet is a great way to find out about the property market in a particular area from the comfort of your own home.

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Literally hundreds of Web sites offer — or claim to offer — comprehensive details of property in Spain. Although the Internet is a useful starting point for your research, you need to tread carefully. But you get absolutely nothing concrete for your money and little chance of recovering it if the property is not completed for years — or, worse still, never completed.

Check out Chapter 3 for more on the legalities of paying deposits. On the Internet, start by typing your specific needs into a search engine, such as Google www. Advertisers have mastered the art of planting key words into their searchengine listings so that everything with even a marginal connection to what you are looking for is flagged up. Persevere, refine your search, and keep at it. Spending hours on the Internet will be a whole lot cheaper than wasted trips to Spain if you have nothing worthwhile to view when you get there.

Start by using English words and then move on to Spanish words such as inmobiliaria estate agency , which may deliver a new list of Spanish property Web sites, many of which have basic English translations. Web sites come and go all the time. Click on Inmobiliaria and surf through links to more than , properties all over Spain. This site also hands out general information on mortgages, insurance, and living conditions in each area of Spain.

The site started life as a simple guide to the buying procedures for residential properties in the UK, but with partners, it now covers buying guides and property listings for over 26, properties in Spain. The site has an amazing filter allowing you to pre-select properties to view by a host of specialised criteria, including ski property, golf property, renovation projects, and commercial property.

Start by finding a foreigner like you who wants to sell up. In many cases, buyers are trading up after putting their toes in the water. Ask your friends and acquaintances whether they know of anyone who has a property for sale. To widen your pool of contacts, draw on your networking skills.

Everyone you find with a property in Spain knows a couple of others, and they in turn know a couple more. Pulling on that thread soon unravels hundreds of people having some connection, however tenuous, with someone else thinking of selling a home in Spain. Take care not to be sucked into parting with any money until you have taken legal advice.

Pop over to Chapter 3 to find out about deposits, to whom they should be paid, and when. Auctions in Spain operate much as they do the world over. Do all your research about the property which you can read about in Chapter 12 beforehand, take your lawyer with you to the auction, and have your cash ready to finance the transaction. One benefit of auctions is that the final selling price is public knowledge, as are the bids. You can find up-to-date information on auctions in Spain on the Web sites of Property Auctions Spain www.

Local papers also carry details of auctions, as does the English-language press in Spain. Check out how that deposit is to be made and have the funds available on the day. Call ahead to double-check that the house you are after is still to be auctioned. Properties can be, and are, sold before auction by smart or desperate buyers who knobble the seller. Auctions are usually advertised six to eight weeks in advance, so go to one or two to get to know the ropes. Carry out all the inspections and checks before you bid.

Jump to Chapter 12 to discover what you need to look out for. Once the hammer comes down, the property and the risk are all yours. Not the subject that worries the Chancellor of the Exchequer, but if you are successful, you must have the full funds ready to complete the purchase, usually within 28 days.

Set an outside limit on how much you can spend. And never exceed it! Consider giving your lawyer power of attorney read all about this in Chapter 3 so he can bid for you and keep you within your budget. Some house-hunters work with just one estate agency, but to get unbiased help you want a house-hunter that works with lots of estate agencies. Usually, a house-hunter asks you to fill in a detailed questionnaire designed to capture your needs precisely.

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The house-hunter then sets out to find properties in the area you want, at your price, and that he believes correspond to your needs. He personally visits properties, takes detailed notes and photos, and sends information to you for viewing before you make the trip to visit the properties he has selected. When you get to Spain, your house-hunter will set up viewing appointments and accompany you on those visits. If you decide to buy one of the properties he recommends, you then deal directly with the estate agent. The fee structure depends on the type and level of service you choose.

You need to work out just how desirable a particular property is and what that is worth to you.


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To do this, rank each property according to how closely it matches what you want of the ideal property. Next, list the properties you are considering and measure them against the graded criteria. Table shows a sample ranking for an imaginary couple trying to choose between an expensive new fully furnished and equipped apartment close to the beach with a shared pool, and a slightly older but cheaper villa that is inland and has a small garden and private swimming pool.

The couple are strapped for cash, but they have to be able to get to and from the UK as cheaply and quickly as possible, because they have business commitments at home. They value their privacy and would like to take on as little responsibility for maintenance of the property as possible.


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Bearing these factors in mind, our imaginary house-buyers have given price and proximity to an airport the maximum weight of 5 in the scoring. Privacy and low maintenance both have a weight of 4, and being ready to occupy merits 3. Then you can add up the weighted scores to get a total for each property. The highest score shows the property that best meets the criteria. The weighting you give to each factor and the factors themselves are purely a matter of personal preference. Then renting a property in Spain may be the answer, giving you time to get to know the country better before you purchase.

Check out the chapters in Part II for some useful insights and tips on finding the right location. In this chapter, I give you lots of practical information about renting property. If you want to go the landlord route and decide renting out your new place is a way to generate some useful cash, jump to Chapter Answering the Big Question: Long-term or Short-term? Having the chance to try before you buy is one of the great advantages of renting. Starting out in rented accommodation means you 78 Part I: Preparing for Your Spanish Buying Adventure can move to Spain with relatively little pain or cost.

Living in an area temporarily as you look for a property to buy gives you the scope to widen your network of contacts in the housing market. In either instance, you could spend time renting while property prices are rising and so have to pay much more when you make the switch from renting to buying. Two types of property exist on the rental market — long-term six months plus and short-term weekly rental. Each type has pros and cons. Depending on the area and time of year, unless you reach a compromise with the owner, your rent could be very high.

With a long-term let, the cost may be a lot less, but you are tied for a longer period — great if finding your ideal property takes a long time, but a bit of a bore if you find your property fairly swiftly. Also, with a long-term let, you are committed even if you decide the area is not for you. Taking short-term rentals or holidays in the different areas of Spain on your short list of desirable regions gives you the opportunity to compare and contrast.

With this experience under your belt, you are in a better position to make a long-term decision on a property. An even better approach is to return to your front-running regions at different times of the year. Many people who have purchased to rent maximise their rental power by renting the property out at prime times and keeping the property available for themselves some of the time too. Chapter 5: Not Ready to Commit? But unfurnished can mean completely naked — literally bare walls and a door or two.

Such niceties as light fittings, a cooker, and a fridge may well be missing. Furnished apartments, on the other hand, can come complete with every conceivable luxury, such as a dishwasher and a fridge with water- and juice-coolers — in short, everything designed to give tourists a great holiday. Properties available for long-term renting in resort areas are usually furnished amueblado , giving you one less problem to deal with.

Moving between furnished rented houses is far less trouble than buying furniture that may not suit the house you end up buying. You could begin by staying with friends and then moving on to a guesthouse or hotel and then to a holiday let. Who knows — you may even find that renting meets many, if not all, of your needs for a property abroad, saving you a lot of time and expense.

Most of the newspapers, magazines, and Web sites you use in your research to find a property to buy can also help you find a property to rent. Have a look at the list of recommended resources in Chapter 4. In addition, Web sites such as kyero www. The Sublet Web site has a powerful search facility allowing you to search by Spanish region and town, number 80 Part I: Preparing for Your Spanish Buying Adventure of bedrooms, furnished or unfurnished, cost of rental, and whether pets are accepted. Keeping it local If you reckon you might take months rather than weeks to find a place to buy, think carefully about the creature comforts of your rental property.

Wising up on words Local Spanish papers are a useful source of rental properties. Finding a Property to Rent 81 Taking a hotel room or holiday apartment for a week or two as you look around for somewhere to rent longer-term is a good idea. Have a look in local papers, estate agencies, shop windows, and supermarket and college notice-boards for rental ads. Expat publications are also a fruitful source of quality rentals refer to Chapter 4 for a list of these publications.

Having a go at house-sitting House-sitting is an arrangement in which someone lives in a house while the permanent residents are away. In exchange for free accommodation, the house-sitter cares for the house, garden, pool, and pets. You — the house-sitter — get free accommodation while you search for your home to buy — and all for little more effort than you would have had to make had you been living in your own house. Other bills, such as local and property taxes, are the responsibility of the owner. They are subscription-based services, so take care to find out whether they have clients in Spain before you sign up and pay out.

For example, at the time of writing, one site lists 1, house-sitting opportunities, but 90 per cent of them are in the US. Swapping homes Home-exchange holidays began back in the s when Dutch and Swiss teachers began swapping their houses during the long summer holidays. A US firm, Intervac, lays claim to starting the idea as a business in The Internet has given house-swapping an enormous boost, and these days you can find hundreds of businesses in the field.

Today, an estimated , house-swaps take place worldwide every year, and this figure is growing fast. Home-exchanges generally operate as membership clubs run by agencies with a network of properties around the world. Some, such as Intervac, have staff in more than 30 countries who can help you by phone, in person, and online. Members send brief descriptions and photographs of their homes and write a line or two about where and when they would like to visit.

In theory, house-swaps have no limit to the length of stay, but in practice most arrangements range from a few weeks to several months, with some listings lasting for a year or more. Bear in mind that the greater your flexibility, the more likely you are to arrange an exchange. Different people equip their homes differently and live in neighbourhoods reflecting their lifestyles.

You may prefer to swap with people whose circumstances are similar to yours. Rather like a dating agency, the success of home-exchange schemes is based on having a very large database of people willing to swap houses. Most house-swappers are fairly flexible about where they end up.

A month in California may be just as acceptable as a month in Spain or the Maldives. You, however, have one destination in mind — Spain — which probably means you need to join several networks to be sure of finding a suitable range of properties from which to choose. After finding a suitable partner with a house to exchange, you follow up with e-mails or phone calls, giving all the necessary information on the duration of the exchange, facilities in the property, and location, so that both sides feel happy.

When both parties are ready, you exchange a formal signed agreement on a standard form supplied by the exchange agency. The owners usually pay domestic bills utilities and whatnot , but confirm this in writing. They contain useful information on the factors you need to think about when considering a 84 Part I: Preparing for Your Spanish Buying Adventure house-swap as well as directories of exchange properties.

Intervac, for example, has more than properties in Spain in its exchange directory, which are available for periods as short as ten days and as long as three months. The Web sites give you information about the property and location and advice on how to best present your property, what to put in an information pack, sample home-exchange agreements, letters of regret to people being turned down, as well as information on the risks involved in house-swapping. Spain is awash with inexpensive places to stay for a few days, weeks, or months without having to commit to renting an apartment or villa for months at a time.

Youth hostels are usually fairly basic, but then so are their prices. This may be the cheapest — and probably the least comfortable — type of accommodation. Ask at local tourist offices for details. You stay in a cottage and get involved Chapter 5: Not Ready to Commit? Finding a Property to Rent 85 in working life on a farm or some other country pursuit.

Staying in this type of accommodation gets you meeting Spanish farming families, many of whom may have barns and land for sale. Who knows — this could be the way to find a property before it hits the market. Cutting a long-term deal Spending anywhere between three weeks and three months in a sunny Spanish holiday resort while looking for a property to buy can work out cheaper than staying at home in Britain for the coldest months of the year. You can book up to 99 days in a hotel, with or without air travel. Calculating payback Staying in a hotel may seem like an expensive option.

But by cutting out the costs of taking out a lease, putting down a deposit, and paying telephone, heating, and local rates bills, a hotel may actually be cheaper than renting a villa or apartment. Winter-sun deals often cost less than that — and you get fed into the bargain. Plus you have none of the hassle of renting. Like thousands of others, Greg Wainwright and his wife, Deirdre, fantasised about owning a place in the sun. With a lot of determination and a few compromises, they made it happen.

The Wainwrights had been visiting Spain for ten years, travelling around many of the regions and dreaming of owning a villa near a beach or with a swimming pool. Last year they took the plunge even though they had still not found their dream home: They sold up in the UK and bought a motor home. This gives them incredible flexibility in being able to travel anywhere at any time.

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