I’m Moving…

I recently returned to the real-estate sector after a few years out and picked up where I left off with this blog. I enjoy writing and keeping people up to date with what’s hot and what’s not in the world of Spanish real-estate.

See ya! Hasta pronto!
See ya! Hasta pronto!

However, I am now going to be writing specifically for Marbella For Sale, a real-estate agent based in Puerto Banus.

Marbella For Sale have recently launched a complete redesign of their website and it now incorporates a blog. Now that blog needs content and that is where I come in!

I will continue to focus on the same subjects, and will make every effort to remain impartial. I don’t like filling blog posts with marketing or self-promotion and will strive to keep it that way.

It seems WordPress want to charge me actual money to do a site redirect from this domain to the new one. Not likely! So please update your bookmarks to the new address: http://www.marbellaforsale.com/blog/.

Thanks to all who came here and read my words. I hope to see you all at Marbella For Sale.

Bye for now,


10 Entire Villages For Sale in Spain

Are you looking for a Spanish property? Do you fancy a townhouse, an apartment, or perhaps an entire village?

There are plenty of opportunities to pick up a decent property for a bargain price at the moment as the recovery continues to accelerate. If you were thinking of a reformation project then none could be better, or perhaps more challenging, than buying an entire village of old, dilapidated properties in the Spanish countryside.

Here are ten villages that are currently for sale in Spain, most of which are under half a million euros, with one of them being given away!

1. Castellfollit del Boix – €2 million

This 17th century village needs attention
This 17th century village needs attention

Covering 58.9 square kilometres, Castellfollit del Boix consists of 12 historic stone buildings in this small Catalan pueblo dating from the 17th century.

The village is only around one hour drive from Barcelona, which is why this one is the most expensive on our list. The buildings are in various states but all will need at least a little TLC.

2. Lugo hamlet – €250,000

There are no permanent residents left in Lugo
There are no permanent residents left in Lugo

At the bottom of a verdant valley in northern Galicia lies the small hamlet of Lugo.

Listed for only 250,000 Euros, this small, quiet village consists of four houses, a mill, a granary and a barn. All buildings are in need of attention and this would not be an easy project.

It will be very peaceful as there are no longer any permanent residents. The last gave up and moved on around 10 years ago. The only sounds you will hear are the wind rustling the peach trees and the varied wildlife.

3. Pontevedra hamlet – €398,500

Pontevedra hamlet requires very little work
Pontevedra hamlet requires very little work

This one is for those who want to buy something that has already been renovated.

This small town on the Galician coast comes with five properties that have already been remodelled, leaving you more time to relax and enjoy your new surroundings.

4. Llirt – €749,000

44 buildings/ruins availble in Llirt
44 buildings/ruins availble in Llirt

This small village lies in the foothills of the Pyrenees, surrounded by grasslands and pine forests.

It comes with 44 buildings which are essentially ruins. Definitely a serious project for serious buyers.


5. A Barca – €0 – pay only management fees

12 properties for free in A Barca
12 properties for free in A Barca

Free? Free, you say? Well, almost.

The local town hall is ready to give away the entire village of La Barca, a rundown hamlet in the Galician regions.

However, there is a caveat to buying it; you must agree to renovate the entire village, which consists of 12 houses in various states. Again, this is not a weekend project and serious buyers will have to put both time and money into restoring this country village to its former glory.

6. Bárcena de Bureba – €425,000

75 properties - not for the faint hearted!
75 properties – not for the faint hearted!

This tiny little village lies in Castilla y León, north of Madrid consisting of 75 properties.

Where else could you buy 75 properties for under half a million euros? Well, calling them “properties” is probably unfair. Ruins would be a better description

All 75 building are in serious need of renovation. It wont be a weekend project.

7. El Rebollal hamlet – €499,000

El Rebollal sits in the countryside of Asturias
El Rebollal sits in the countryside of Asturias

On Spain’s northern coast is Asturias.

Here, nestled in the countryside you will find the small hamlet of El Rebollal.

It comes with 11 properties, most of which have already received some level of renovation.

Sitting in 3.5 hectares of forest and pasture land, this is a peace lover’s dream. Interestingly, it also boasts a pretty good mobile signal.

8. Ferrol hamlet – €210,000

Ferrol Hamlet comes with a 15th century manor house
Ferrol comes with a 15th century manor house

Up in the Galician region once again, this small village is only 15 minutes from the beach.

It comes with a chapel, farmhouse, stone mill and a 15th-century manor house, all sitting within five hectares of woodland and pasture.

Pick up this hamlet, and your reward for all the blood sweat and tears shed during the restoration will be your seat as lord of the manor.

9. Ortigueira – €125,000

Ortigueira includes a bakery and a river full of trout
Ortigueira comes with a bakery

You may have seen this village in the press.

Coming with four old stone buildings that all require renovation, this extremely cheap village comes with free well water and a bakery with a stone hearth.

The largest property comes with hardwood floors and five bedrooms which look out over orchard of various fruits including peaches, figs, walnuts and pears.

At the foot of the valley you’ll find a small river full of trout.

10. Pueblo Los Belgas – €960,000

This Andalusian village includes a school
This Andalusian village includes a school

Moving further south, half way between Murcia and Malaga lies Pueblo Los Belgas.

Sitting within 25 km² and surrounded by the stunning landscape of the Baza National Park, this Andalusia village would be a very exciting project for any investor prepared to take a leap.

This small, tranquil village comes with a school and a bar but while some of the buildings are in need of attention there is a lot less to do than in some of the other villages on this list, hence the asking price.

Treasury Trawling Internet For Rentals

Your rental income is being watched!
Your rental income is being watched!

Following the introduction of new regulations for short-term rental properties, the government are now employing new tactics to find and punish those who do not declare their rental income.

Up to 50,000 property owners could be in line for sanctions if they are found to be renting out their property for short-term (holiday) rentals without telling the authorities or declaring any income they receive from it.

The government have set up a special division to track down the undeclared properties by trawling internet property portals. They are also said to be monitoring electricity usage to ascertain if the property is inhabited.

The Treasury workers’ union, Gestha, estimates the total amount of undeclared taxes to be in the region of 100 million Euros, which is why they are keen to put a stop to it.

However, it’s not only a tax issue. Many in the hotel industry state that it is unfair competition as they have to comply with a raft of regulations, including health and safety issues, which undeclared rental properties do not. Black-market rentals are thought to occupy up to 30% of the total properties for rent on the Costa del Sol.

Fines of up to 25% of the rental income will be levied, being based on the size of the property and the rental costs requested by the owner. The fines can also be backdated so don’t think that owning up now to years of undeclared rentals will get you off the hook. You must prove when you began renting your property and pay the fine based on the length of time you have failed to declare the income. A little heavy handed, but necessary to bring the market under control.

There are differing opinions from industry insiders with some saying the regulations will improve the sector in both quality and safety. Opposing opinions suggest many owners will simply stop renting out their property for short-term rentals and the market will be strangled leaving a shortage of holiday accommodation.


Spanish Siesta Under Threat

Is this the end of the Siesta?
Is this the end of the Siesta?

I’m sure you’re aware of the Spanish Siesta; the two hours in the afternoon, usually 2pm – 4pm, where shops close and everyone goes for a nap.

Spain is one of the few remaining countries that does this and some people suggest it affects business by effectively “closing” the country for two hours every day.

Acting Prime Minister, Mariano Rajoy, has plans to scrap it and reduce the length of the working day bringing it in line with the rest of Europe.

Mr Rajoy said he intended to “find a consensus to make sure the working day ends at 6pm.”

The siesta isn’t universally observed these days but the working day is still split with a two, or even three, hour lunch break, meaning the working day doesn’t finish for most people until 7pm.

The siesta was originally introduced to allow farmers and construction workers to avoid working during the hottest part of the day. It is also said that despite the longer working day, the siesta actually diminishes productivity for Spanish workers.

Flexible Hours

In 2013, a Spanish parliamentary commission said “We need more flexible working hours, to cut our lunch breaks, to streamline business meetings by setting time limits for them, and to practise and demand punctuality.”

The report also suggested that dropping the daily siesta would raise the quality and life, raise low birth rates and reduce marriage breakdowns.

The acting PM is also considering a return to GMT (Greenwich Mean Time) for the country which currently operates an hour ahead of London. The time zone shift was the decision of dictator General Franco in 1942 as a way of showing support for Hitler’s Nazi regime by bringing Spain in line with German time.


Top 10 Bizarre Requests for Consular Assistance

With millions of Brits choosing to live outside the UK, it’s unsurprising that the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) are inundated with calls from desperate Brits stuck in a hospital or prison cell.

What may surprise you, however, is just how many ridiculous requests the FCO receives. Anything from sourcing English bacon to worries about nudists.

The FCO have released what they call their “Top Ten Bizarre Requests”, partly for amusement, partly to highlight to people exactly what services they can proivide.

During 2015 over 500,000 calls were made to the consular services line which is there to provide emergency or legal assistance to Britons who get in trouble abroad.

Of those half a million calls, 3,250 were from Brits who had found themselves hospitalised, 4,770 from Brits who found themselves in a jail cell, and 3,670 from the families of people who had died overseas. As well as dealing with those issues, the office also issued 38,000 replacement travel documents.

Firstly, here is a list of things you should call the FCO for:

  • Arranging to visit British people in hospital
  • Arranging to visit British people in prison
  • Advising on money transfers
  • Assisting those caught up in a crisis situation

This is not an exhaustive list, obviously, but gives you an idea of what they can do.

What they cannot do is get you out of jail if you’ve been arrested, although 74% of Brits* thought they could. They cannot necessarily arrange travel home for you if you have lost your tickets, although 22% of those surveyed thought they could. And they will not lend you money if yours is lost or stolen, which 15% of those surveyed assumed they could.

Foreign and Commonwealth Office Minister James Duddridge said: “Our consular staff are a helpful bunch and do an amazing job helping out Brits in trouble around the world – but it is important that people remember they are there to help with genuine emergencies and not as an alternative to directory enquiries.

“Every minute they spend handling a call requesting advice on butlers or nudists is time taken away from dealing with life and death cases, so I urge the public to think before picking up the phone.”

So, here is the FCO’s Top Ten Bizarre Requests

  • a man planning to move to Spain called because he was worried he may encounter nudists on the streets
  • a hungry expat called to ask where he could buy English bacon
  • a lady in Lebanon asked for assistance in recruiting an English butler
  • a holidaymaker called looking for Travel Advice for a visit to Coventry
  • a European filmmaker needed an English pensioner for a part in his film and thought the FCO could help
  • a woman arrived in Russia and was upset that the Embassy didn’t send someone to show her around St. Petersburg
  • a British man asking for assistance to get illegal employment in Singapore
  • a mother asked for the contact details of a young British YouTuber, as her son was a fan of his Minecraft videos
  • a confused businessman looking for information on the construction of plug sockets
  • a man in South Korea asking what he could do with his old pound notes

* Research from the UK Travel Habit Tracking Research Report, September 2015

Property Rental Prices Increased in Q1

Expect to pay more for rentals in 2016
Expect to pay more for rentals in 2016

According to data released by property portal, Idealista, the cost of rental property increased by 4.3% across Spain during the first quarter ending March at 7.4 Euros per square metre, per month. Comparing on the annual rate the increase is 5.2%.

The rental market appears to be recovering more strongly than the sales market. Head of research at Idealista, Fernando Encinar, said “with the report data in hand it is clear that there is a huge demand for rental housing, and that supply is rising strongly.”

The recovery in rentals has to take into account the large amount of rental property available to the market. Excessive construction, leading up to the crisis, means there is a large stock of good quality housing resulting in a large and varied choice for tenants.

Encinar explained “Given that the construction during the years of the housing bubble left a large housing stock of good quality properties, the rise of rents can be a boost for many owners and a good choice for small and medium savers who want to seize the moment to invest in housing.

“With rates at zero and banks giving historically low yields many small investors are seeing good returns by buying homes and placing them on the rental market.”

Rentals by Community

All communities recorded an increase in rental costs during the first quarter, except for Euskadi where prices fell by 4%.

The largest increase was recorded in the Balearic Islands where rental prices have increased 11.2% to 10 Euros per square metre, since the start of the year. The closet “runners-up” were Madrid where prices increased 5.2%, Valencia which saw a 5% increase, and Catalonia where the cost of renting has increased by 4.7%.

Madrid remains as the most expensive location to rent a property. In the capital you should expect to pay 11.5 Euros per m². Catalonia follows as the second most expensive with prices of 11 Euros per square metre.

Andalucia saw prices increase 2.5% on the quarterly basis. The region shows an annual increase of 4%, remaining popular and closely matched to the average for Spain. The price of property for rent in Marbella increased 8% on the annual rate, showing a quarterly increase of 4.7%.

The Costa del Sol showed rental price increases in most areas with Estepona leading the way with a 27% annual increase. Prices in Malaga increased by 15.5%, followed by Fuengirola where rental prices increased 15.1% on the interannual rate.

Results by Province

Increases in rental costs were recorded in 38 of the country’s provinces with the largest increase registered in the Balearic Islands. Valencia saw prices increase by 6.7%, while prices in Madrid increased 5.2%. The largest decline in rental prices through Q1 was recorded in Tarragona where prices fell 8.6%.

When ranking the provinces in order of the most expensive, Barcelona leads with a price per square metre, per month, of 12.6 Euros. Madrid comes in second with 11.5 Euros per square metre p/month.


Coastal and Island Property Prices Increase

Property prices increased in March
Property prices increased in March

According to data released by Tinsa today, the average price of finished housing remained stable throughout March showing a slight increase of 0.8% over the same month last year.

The areas of the “Mediterranean Coast” and the “Balearic and Canary Islands” show the most positive month with both areas showing an increase in prices of 4.3% during March.

The cumulative adjustment since the pre-crisis peak remained at -41%.

Only two areas recorded negative adjustment on the annual rate. “Capitals and Big Cities” and smaller towns grouped under “Other Municipalities” both recorded prices slightly below those of March 2015, with annual declines of 0.6% and 1.3%, respectively. The areas grouped under “Metropolitan Areas” recorded a healthy increase of 2.8%, year-on-year.

Quarter 1, 2016

When looking at the evolution of prices over the first quarter of the year, the overall pricing index is 2.2% higher than the end of Q4, 2015. The highest quarterly shift was recorded in the “Balearic and Canary Islands” where prices increased 5.4% over the previous quarter. Following closely behind was “Other Municipalities” with a 3.4% increase, and the “Mediterranean Coast” where prices of property for sale increased 3.1%.

Despite recent price increases there is still a huge gap between today’s prices and those of 2007. The average adjustment across the country is currently -41%. In the “Mediterranean Coast”, despite the recent onset of a recovery, is still showing the greatest difference over prices of eight years ago. Currently prices on the south coast are 46.5% lower than before the crisis. Other areas where the price difference is over 40% include “Capitals and Large Cities” and “Metropolitan Areas”, where prices are currently 45.1% and 43.8% below pre-crisis levels, respectively.

The lowest cumulative adjustment since the crisis is recorded in the “Balearic and Canary Islands” where prices are currently 29.1% down, while “Other Municipalities” are still 36.1% below those of 2007.

The Tinsa IMIE index is calculated on the annual change in the value of a m² of a property.


Home Sales Soared 15.8% in February

Property sales increased in Feb 2016
Property sales increased 5.3% in Feb 2016

February 2016 proved to be a great month for property sales as the number of property transfers increased 5.3% over the same month in the previous year to a total of 154,386 properties.

Sales of housing increased a whopping 15.8% with 34,771 deed transfers registered, according to data released by the National Statistics Institute.

When looking at the type of housing sold, 84.9% was in relation to urban properties, with 15.1% of properties being rural. In the case of the urban properties, 56.7% were residential properties.

Rural properties showing an increase in the annual rate of 4.2%, while for urban properties the increase was 13.9%.

According to the data, 22.5% of the homes sold in February were new properties while resale (second-hand) properties accounted for 77.5% of purchases. This represents a fall of 0.2% on new property while resale properties seem to be responsible for the positive figures after registering a 21.4% increase in February.

By Community

Per 100,000 residents, the communities with the highest increases in property transfers during February were Extremadura and the Balearic Islands, with increases of 29.6% and 26.4%, respectively.

The only two communities to register a negative monthly variation were Andalucia which saw a fall of 10.6% and Galicia where property sales fell 1%, when compared to the same period in 2015. Despite this overall decline, Andalucia recorded the highest number of home sales in February with 6,476 homes sold. They were followed by Cataluña with 5,304 and Madrid with 5,275 home sales.

When looking at sales of residential property, the communities with the highest annual increase were the Basque Country with a massive 50.3% increase, closely followed by Asturias with a 40% increase and Cantabria where home sales increased 38.9%.

Type of Housing

The data suggests that 89.2% of the properties sold in February were free housing while 10.8% was protected. This represents an increase of 16% for free housing while protected housing increased 14.3%.

The data further suggests that when comparing February to January, 2016, sales of residential property increased by 7.3%, representing the first positive February for five years.


Resale Property Prices Increased in Q1

Spanish property market recovering
The Spanish property market is recovering

Property portal Fotocasa have released their Q1 report on second-hand (resale) property prices in Spain. The data shows a slight increase in prices of 0.5% over the first quarter of 2016 meaning a square metre will cost an average of 1,627 Euros. According to the report this is the first quarterly increase in prices since 2007.

The data released by Fotocasa suggests this is the third consecutive quarter of growth following Q3 and Q4 of 2015 which recorded increases of 1.1% and 0.7%, respectively.

Beatriz Toribio, from Fotocasa Studies, said: “The price of housing is stabilizing after eight years in the red. In 2015 we saw how the fall abruptly slowed and how some areas closed the year with price increases. After losing 45.5% of its value, we hope that in 2016 housing prices have bottomed out across much of the country and will begin to recover in the major economic and population centres,”

According to the report, the inter-annual rate showed an increase of 0.6%, the first increase in year-on-year prices recorded since 2007.

Q1 by Region

When comparing to December 2015, eight of the country’s autonomous communities recorded a positive change with the Canary Islands registering the highest increase of 6.3%. The Balearic Islands followed with a 2.2% increase. Valencia and Andalucia registered increases of 2.2% and 1.4% respectively, while Madrid showed an increase of 1%, with Catalonia closing the quarter with a 0.9% rise in property prices.

When we look at the average price per square metre, the Basque Country topped the table with 2,736 Euros per m². Second and third positions were taken by Madrid and Catalonia with €2,225 and €2,064 p/m².

The cheapest region was Castilla-La Mancha where the same space will cost you €1,050. The next two cheapest regions were Extremadura (€1,088 p/m²) and Murcia (€1,143 p/m²).

By Province

Thirty of the country’s provinces showed an increase in prices with the largest recorded rise being in Santa Cruz de Tenerife where prices increased 2.9%. Las Palmas was next with a 2.4% increase.

Of the 779 municipalities looked at by the study, 459 recorded prices increase, while 320 showed a decline in property prices.

NB: I must point out that this is data based on the prices of the properties Fotocasa, a property portal, have for sale on their site. Another property portal, Idealista, also release data based on their listings and that is why, in case any of you noticed, a previous article based on Idealista data, suggested prices had actually fallen in Q1. As with everything, it depends who you ask! If I report on both studies you can get a better idea of what the actual figures are.

‘Discriminatory’ Inheritance Tax to be Refunded

Up to 100,000 Brits could receive a refund
Up to 100,000 Brits could receive a refund

For many years now, British people who received a Spanish property as part of an inheritance found themselves lumbered with a huge, unexpected, tax bill.

Now it is revealed that many of these home owners have finally received their refunds after a lengthy battle. As much as 3.3 million Euros have already been refunded in taxes which the homeowners should never have been asked to pay.

Barcelona-based law firm Spanish Legal Reclaims are handling the case for many Brits and they say there is another seven million euros of claims in the pipeline.

Furthermore, the company’s chief executive, Luis Cuervo, expects to file claims for a further three million euros over the next few years as new claimants come forward.

Sources suggest that up to 100,000 Brits could have been affected by the charges with up to 300 million Euros unnecessarily paid.

The Agencia Tributaria (tax office) applied the charges when a property owner died and passed the property to a family member of friend. The charge was also applied to lifetime gifts. In some cases, the tax amounted to almost a third of the value of the property or gift and it had to be paid in full within six months of notification. However, Spanish residents were exempt from up to 99% of the tax and paid little or nothing.

Because of this disparity the European Court of Justice deemed the charges unfair. It is discriminatory for property owners living in another EU country to be charged higher taxes than locals, and the court said victims of the charges should be repaid, with interest.

The authorities are now repaying an average of €30,000 per claim. The refunds are not automatic and those who think they have a case need to file a claim themselves.

“Anyone who paid the inheritance tax during the past five years can claim back all the tax that they paid – but doing so is a complex and daunting task only for specialised lawyers, experts in EU tax claims, as there is no single form to fill in,” said Mr Cuervo.

Finally, a win for foreign property owners!