Spanish mortgage news

Last week and again this week a tranche of data has been released in Spain.

Apart from the fact that the trade surplus is a positive most of it did not make happy reading.

Some of the issues like rising mortgage delinquencies are as a consequence not just of rising numbers but because for the last year the amount of money being lent has been less than the loans redeemed. In a shrinking mortgage book therefore the number of loans gone bad will rise as a percentage of the total book.

Lending has fallen away most heavily in the resident cities and large towns. Pockets like Andalucía still show reasonable numbers as lenders lend in these areas to non residents as well as residents.

Numbers of loans being granted for holiday home owners etc appear to be stabilized at last year levels and may well increase as banks become more rather than less active in lending against their own properties in effort to sell them.

The last few weeks there has been renewed activity in the area of mortgage enquiries relating to new builds. As the 4% IVA, which is a discount to the 10% it will revert to in January 2013 comes to a close, people are trying to select and complete before the 31st Dec deadline.

International Mortgage Solutions
www.international-mortgages.org

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Tips for a Stress-Free Move to Spain

Guest post by Jennifer D’Angelo.

Moving to Spain can be both an exciting and a daunting experience. Heading to a new country is never easy, but there are some ways to make this move as stress-free as possible. You need to know what needs to be done and when, as well as what to expect as you are getting things done.

Getting the First Things Done

If you are coming from the US, you will need a Visa. These are not granted overnight, so it is important that you get started earlier gathering the paperwork and documents that you will need to get your Visa. It is important to start early, be patient and make sure that you have all of the paperwork and documents together before submitting your application.

Getting a Place to Live

You want to get a place to live before you head to Spain. Call and email local realtors and talk to them about what you want and which neighborhoods would be best for you. You want to make sure that once you arrive that you like the place you will be living.

The majority of rental properties in Spain are fully furnished. This means that you will not need to worry about shipping big pieces of furniture or rushing around to find new furniture. Talk to the landlord and real estate agent about what the apartment comes with so that you can plan. You will still need your personal items and decorative items to get to your new place. You can choose to have these items shipped. This can be a bit pricey, but it is a convenient way to get boxes full of stuff to your new place without having to do all of the lugging yourself. Of course, you can choose to carry your items with you via whichever travel method that you choose, but this can be pricey too, especially if you are flying and have to check multiple bags.

Think about the smaller things that come with choosing a new home too. For example, do you have pets that you want to bring with you? Some rental properties may not allow pets, so you will want to ask about this, as well as any additional costs associated with bringing a pet along.

What You Bring Matters

Things like electronics may or may not be included with your new home. Most electronics will work in Spain, but things like televisions may not get the channels that you need. Ask your realtor if televisions will be part of the included furnishings.

Before getting to Spain, take to the Internet and research the neighborhood that you chose. Get to know where things like the grocery store, restaurants, medical clinics and other important places are and how far they are from your new abode.

How Will You Get There?

Many people will choose to fly, of course. If you are having most of your items shipped, flying is probably the best choice. You will get there in a day or less and can meet the rest of your stuff. Some will also choose to head to the UK and then take a ferry to Calais or Santander and then drive to Spain. These are not short drives and you will want to drive through Spain during the day since it is new to you and night lighting is not the best. If you choose to drive, make sure you have your passport, driver’s license, insurance proof and all other important documents that show who you are.

About the Author: Jennifer D’Angelo is a real estate professional in the United States who has spent time living and working in Spain. Click here for more information about Jen’s work. 

Property sales rise for first time in 17 months

After 17 months of decline, the number of property sales in Spain experienced a year on year increase in August. Official statistics report 27,708 transactions, 3% more than in August 2011.

Sales in August constitute the first figures since the government announced changes to tax benefits for home purchases that will begin in January 2013. The removal of tax relief appears to have encouraged some buyers to take advantage of the current legislation.

Specifically, Mariano Rajoy’s government announced in July that, as of 2013, those who buy a home will be unable to deduct income tax benefit. Also ending are favourable tax rates for new house purchases, which will increase from 4% to 10%.

For resales, the transfer tax (ITP) with a tax of around 8% is also rising in several regions to 10% in 2013.

The data released by the INE reveals large regional differences for example in Castilla-La Mancha, La Rioja and the Balearic Islands, home purchases have increased by nearly 30%, while in Navarra and the Basque Country there were similar variations but entirely opposite, dropping by up to 30%.

Article source: Kyero.com

The Luxurious Costa del Sol

Guest post by Heather Reid.

Whilst the Costa del Sol may conjure up images of mass tourism, many visitors are surprised to find that this region also boasts a wealth of exclusive and luxurious destinations. Spoil yourself with a luxurious road trip along the 100-mile coastline of the Costa Del Sol and enjoy a landscape that includes spectacular mountain scenery, views of the Rock of Gibraltar, the coast of Northern Africa and the Sierra Nevada Mountains.  Whether you drive along the coast or head inland, amongst the natural beauty and traditional villages, you will find luxurious resorts, fine dining, golf courses and some serious fun.

Luxurious Puerto Banus
Luxurious Puerto Banus

First of all, head to Puerto Banus, a luxurious resort built in 1970, just 6km from the town of Marbella, 64km south of Malaga.  Starting out as a luxury marina and shopping centre, today it is a major destination and a magnet for the super rich, with seemingly endless mega-yachts docked at the marina and streets chock-a-block with luxury cars.  Set against a dramatic mountain backdrop, you can’t help but be impressed by the glitz and glamour of this town.  Puerto Banus is always bustling and full of upmarket bars and restaurants, boutiques including D&G and Dior and a casino.  This is a prime party location, attracting a young, sophisticated and rich clientele whose main aim is to be seen.  There are some great restaurants, including the meat lovers’ delight, Tango or the celebrity hangout of the Red Pepper and some even better nightclubs such as the hugely popular and pricey Olivia Valere.

A few miles away from Puerto Banus is the exclusive town of Marbella.  A luxurious destination for rich European tourists, it successfully combines history and culture with flashy marinas, restaurants and beaches. Those who enjoy a bit of culture should try to get to a performance at the amphitheatre or enjoy an afternoon stroll through the historic old town, a charming place with cobbled streets, whitewashed buildings and outdoor cafes.  If however you prefer a day of pampering and partying, a visit to the exclusive Nikki Beach resort will be a highlight.  One of the most glamorous destinations in Marbella and a great way to enjoy the beach in style, try to make it for one of Nikki Beach’s ‘Amazing Sundays’ with DJ’s, live music, great cocktails and oodles of beautiful people.

If partying is not quite your thing, a short drive will bring you to Nueva Andalucia, also known as the ‘golf valley’.  With warm weather all year round, this region is perfect for golf and the exclusive Aloha Golf course should be at the top of your list.  Designed by Javier Arana, it is one of the best courses to play on in Spain.  Set within beautiful surroundings that have been lovingly landscaped, this is a well maintained golf course that most golfers will find an enjoyable challenge, whilst the terrace has amazing views and is a wonderful place to sit and enjoy a leisurely lunch.

And if it is natural beauty that you are looking for, you can’t go wrong with a trip to Benalmadena. The town is located around 20km from Malaga and boasts spectacular views across the coast from the top of the Calamorro Mountain. There is a cable car from the town that lifts you slowly up the side of the mountain, allowing you to enjoy breathtaking views as you rise 800 metres to the summit.  On a clear day you can see Gibraltar and the coast of Africa.

There are some truly luxurious options for accommodation on the Costa del Sol, including the hotel resorts of Gran Melia Don Pepe, just a few kilometres from Marbella or the Don Carlos Leisure Resort, right next door to Nikki Beach.  For something a little different there are a good selection of boutique hotels, including Hotel Claude, a charming 17th century townhouse in Marbella that has been refitted to combine exclusive modern design with the original features and the fashionable Marbella Heights Boutique Hotel, located on a hill above Marbella with stunning sea views and glorious surroundings.

With well-maintained roads, fast highways connecting the cities and major towns and plenty of wonderful scenic routes to travel, exploring the Costa del Sol by car is great fun and with companies now offering extremely competitive prices for car rental in Malaga and locations across the Costa del Sol, driving a luxury car is much more affordable.  With cars designed for extreme comfort and fitted with all the latest entertainment systems and safety features, it is likely that you enjoy the drive as much as the destination.

Heather Reid is marketing manager for Bingo Car Rental, specialists in low cost and luxury car rental in locations across Spain and Europe.

Tinsa Imie Index – September 2012

TinsaThe cumulative decline increased by 5 tenths in September to 32.9%. Capitals and Major Cities recorded the highest fall compared to other areas.

The IMIE General Index recorded a year-on-year decline of 11.6% in September, similar to the previous month, pushing the index down to 1532 points. The cumulative decline in house prices since the top of the market in December 2007 was exactly 32.9%.

In terms of the performance of the different areas, “Capitals and Major Cities” recorded the steepest year-on-year decline with 13.5%.

The remaining areas all fell below the average with very similar year-on-year figures. The largest price falls were in “Other Municipalities” with 10.9%, followed by “Mediterranean Coast” with 10.8% year-on-year, “Metropolitan Areas”, with 10.4%, the same as the previous month, and lastly the “Balearic and Canary Islands” with a figure of 10%.

In terms of the cumulative declines by area since the top of the market, the fall in prices in the “Mediterranean Coast” reached 39.2% in September; followed by 36% for “Capitals and Major Cities”, 33.2% for “Metropolitan Areas”, 28.6% for the “Balearic and Canary Islands” and 28.5% for “Other Municipalities”, which comprises all those not included in other categories.

Lucas Fox Q1 and Q2 2012 property market reports

Leading Spanish Luxury Property Agency sees volume of sales transactions nearly triple in the first half of 2012 in key Market Locations

2012 first and second quarterly results published in the Lucas Fox Luxury Real Estate Market Reports suggest continued solid interest in Barcelona, Ibiza and Mallorca, with Lucas Fox reporting almost three times as many sales transactions compared to the first half of 2011.

October 2012 (BARCELONA, Spain): Lucas Fox has released Q1 and Q2 2012 property market reports for:

Each half-year Lucas Fox publishes an analysis of trends within the luxury property markets of Barcelona, Ibiza, Mallorca and Costa Brava, using information collated from buyers and property owners in key luxury market locations.

Commenting on the report Lucas Fox Director Alex Vaughan said, “We have had a strong start to 2012, with almost three times as many sales transactions as in the same period in 2011. We have increasingly seen sellers adjust their prices to reflect the realities of market conditions, attracting new investors to the luxury property market in all our locations.”

Summarising the findings from Lucas Fox’s four key market locations, Alex Vaughan stated:

  • “In Barcelona we have seen a pricing readjustment across-the-board, sparking a new wave of foreign investor interest in some of our most sought-after locations. Many buyers who have been carefully monitoring the market throughout 2011 are realizing that it is a perfect time to snare quality properties in Barcelona’s prime property hot spots”,
  •  “The healthy interest in Ibiza property seen in 2011 has been reflected in the first half of 2012, resulting in another strong year for this market. Ibiza’s image as a party island is giving way to a greater reputation as a luxury Mediterranean holiday destination and this is further reinforced with the recent completion of the stunning Life Marina Ibiza apartment complex.”
  • “The second quarter of 2012 ended with an upsurge in investor interest and luxury property sales in Mallorca. There has been particular interest in seafront properties, country houses and large apartments in Palma Old Town amongst foreign buyers. Interest in prime Mallorca properties is expected to extend through the peak sales season until the end of the third quarter, at least.”
  • “In the Costa Brava, the number of sales transactions remains low, though comparable with 2011 levels. Unique properties in exclusive locations are still attracting a lot of interest and in some cases still exchanging close to asking price. In these cases buyers are investing primarily as a lifestyle decision and many are attracted by the potential revenue from luxury rentals, providing a return on investment whilst the market remains uncertain. Sales transactions are expected to remain slow for the rest of 2012, but we expect an increase heading into 2013 as buyers begin to sense that we are nearing the bottom of the market ”

“At Lucas Fox, we expect to experience strong third and fourth quarters in 2012, particularly in Barcelona, Ibiza and Mallorca, and steady sales activity in the Costa Brava in what is traditionally the peak buying season. Lifestyle investors are carefully watching the local luxury property market and beginning to make their moves as they recognise that prices have neared their lowest points. This has been reflected in a growing trend which has seen investors reacting quickly to the availability of high-class properties in prime locations across each area,” said Mr Vaughan.

Founded in 2005, real estate agency Lucas Fox specializes in offering quality luxury properties, a professional approach and a high level of service. The company has offices in Barcelona, the Costa Brava, Ibiza, Mallorca and Portugal.

Buying a house in Spain?

Guest Post by Grace Beckett.

Spain is considered to be one of the most beautiful and scenic countries in Europe. Its rich heritage in almost every aspect of life make it a must see destination for many. Some even go one step further by buying land or property or even a house for when they visit. If you are one of the few who would want a nice little cottage somewhere around the Pyrenees or the Sierra Nevada mountain ranges or maybe a villa overlooking the Mediterranean Sea, this article is for you.

Here, we look at some of the most important things and issues to look out for before buying real estate in the land of bullfighting, football and sangria.

History

Spain’s history shows a high inclination towards a very artistic culture. Right from Diego Velazquez in the 17th century to Francisco Goya in the 18th and 19th and more notably Pablo Picasso in the 20th century, Spain has been overflowing with it. The Flamenco music and dance has been highly regarded all around the world as well, so it’s not much of a surprise to see some of the most beautifully constructed houses and villas here.

Architecture

Spain has seen big changes in architectural style through the years. With a walk around Madrid, the capital, one can see renaissance architecture dating back to the 1500s. The country moved towards modernism in the 20th century and today, you notice an inclination towards contemporary architecture. Most of the villas around the sea-line are from the 1960s to the 80s and expanded later.

The famous property bubble

1985 saw a rapid increase in property value in Spain all the way up to 2008. Between 1985 and 1991, house values nearly tripled as there was a super-high demand all through the country. From 1992 to 1996, the prices had somewhat stabilized but then onwards, they started to skyrocket again.

It is the same theory used for a regular bubble – sooner or later, it has to pop. When the Global Financial Crisis (2007-2012) caught up with the Spanish, they were already in too deep. With the house ownership in Spain more than 80%, the country was one of the worst-affected in the world. Between July 2007 and June 2008, sales dropped an astonishing 25.3%. Banks had started offering 40 to 50-year mortgages to the owners in an attempt to slow down the crash landing they were headed for, which worked. Due to the high rates however, many sold their land and houses but are now stuck with huge debts for property they no longer own.

Value

As of August 2008, new constructions are at an all-time low, but the value of land has not had much of a change, still standing at a whopping 2095 euros/m2.

Buying property in Spain today

Regardless of the incredible downfall, Spain has managed to get back up and has improved significantly. Although there are almost no new constructions going on, you have a good chance of getting your hands on a second-hand cottage or villa/bungalow for a reasonable price (considering the boom) almost anywhere in the country. The styles vary from place to place and according to the value and they are in pristine condition.

Properties on the Balearic and Canary islands also provide some amazing scenery as well as tranquility away from the fast-paced capital.

Summing it up

Spain has seen its share of ups and downs in the property business. Buyers have gone from enthusiastic to greedy to downright delusional but right now, everything seems to have settled down. Although experts say that there still is a chance for another sharp decline in the land value, it is safe to say that the worst has now passed and investing in real estate here is pretty logical now.

Grace is an blog writer with Godot Media. Her interests lie in writing about finance and real estate. She specially likes writing about foreign markets and investments abroad. Grace is also a skilled  cv writer and financial advisor.

UK rebuffs Spanish challenge to Gibraltar sovereignty

The United Kingdom government has dismissed a request from Spain’s Prime Minister, Mariano Rajoy, for a return to bilateral discussions on matters relating to Gibraltar under an agreement dating back to 1984.

Under the previous administration in Spain, Gibraltar and the UK had made significant progress on contentious issues surrounding Gibraltar’s sovereignty after more than a century of fractious relations. Through the trilateral forum, the three governments engaged on maritime border issues, customs policy and, critically, on tax information exchange. It was hoped that through the signing of a bilateral tax information exchange agreement, Spain would in turn recognize Gibraltar’s status as a transparent, highly-regulated international financial centre, lawfully independent from the United Kingdom.

However, in its election manifesto, the People’s Party, which took office this year, said it would seek to undo the work of the previous government and aim to restore the idea of ‘Two Flags (the United Kingdom and Spain), Three Voices’. This approach would remove Gibraltar’s power of veto over discussions pertinent to the territory and force it to mediate issues with Spain through the United Kingdom, under the terms of the 1984 Brussels Agreement.

Speaking at the General Assembly of the United Nations on September 25, Rajoy called for the United Kingdom to agree to a reset, and the resumption of negotiations under the Brussels process.

In a move welcomed by the Gibraltar government, the UK responded however that it would “not engage in any discussions about Gibraltar that the Gibraltarians don’t want to engage in”.

The Gibraltar government underscored that it had “already made clear that talks under the Brussels process are unacceptable to the government and to the people of Gibraltar”, and expressed hope that with the UK’s backing the matter would be put to rest.

“Gibraltar enjoys a veto on the resumption of bilateral discussions about Gibraltar and that is the end of the matter,” the Gibraltar government stated. “The only dialogue acceptable to the people and government of Gibraltar is a trilateral process, to which Gibraltar and the UK remain strongly committed.”

Article source: Investors Offshore.com

Pool Safety – keeping Safe around the pool

Guest post by Ken Walker

Many types of safety cover are available
Many types of safety cover are available

While a pool can be many things to many people, some benefits are universal.  By enjoying a backyard pool, homeowners improve their health and fitness, release and eliminate stress, and create a vibrant atmosphere for special occasions and family fun.

Overall, pool ownership is a lifestyle change and definitely one for the better – you don’t have to leave home to escape the rat race.  A pool gives opportunities to encourage togetherness or to appreciate quiet moments alone.

Most health professionals agree: – swimming is the single most beneficial activity for your whole body; being stress-free for joints and limbs.

Improved self-confidence and a positive attitude-change are also significant parts of the pool exercise package.  Pool aerobics are a preventative, therapeutic activity and a cardiovascular conditioner, particularly for those with arthritis and other disabilities.

“The more often you swim the longer you’ll live”, according to 2 studies of more than 335,000 people by Jeremiah Stamler MD, a heart-disease researcher from Northwestern University in Chicago, who estimates you may add 10 years to your life by swimming every day.

Your own private, backyard pool can transform the most ordinary occasion into a special event.  You can readily imagine some of the occasions around your pool; parties, barbeques, college reunions and quiet gatherings of friends – or just relaxing.

With colourful decorations, tasty food and music to fit the mood, your pool parties will create memories that will last a lifetime. The possibilities are endless. What better place to entertain your kids and their friends than at home, safe in your own family pool?

Pools are Very Dangerous Places

Be aware that your pool is a potentially life-threatening hazard and plan to make your pool the safest place that it can be.  Nobody ever plans for a tragedy like drowning – but pool-owners and pool-users should all plan to prevent one by paying attention to Pool Safety.

Drowning is the 3rd leading cause of death of children under five years of age in the USA, and the leading cause of death in some states such as California, Florida and Arizona (where there are more than the average percentage of properties with private pools).   Over 280 under-fives drown each year in private pools and spas in the USA.  In Spain alone 80 to 100 kids aged 1-4 drown every year in private pools. Enough cannot be said or read on this subject.

According to the USPS Commission “An estimated 3,000 children under age five, and an even greater number of adults, are treated in US hospital emergency rooms following submersion accidents each year.”  A percentage of these submersion accidents result in permanent brain damage.

In the USA a high percentage of married couples who have suffered the fatal drowning of a child end their relationships in an acrimonious divorce.  Additionally, in almost all of these tragic cases the family feel the need to move home.

Children must be constantly supervised when swimming; this is one of the most important aspects of Pool Safety and the more people in or around the pool, the more supervision is necessary. You need to assign one person who is dedicated to watching the children. If that person leaves the pool area, they must pass the duty to another responsible adult (a sober adult who can swim and has learned CPR).

Swimming lessons provide an excellent opportunity for kids to be self-confident in the pool, but the ability to swim is not a guarantee against drowning because kids of all ages constantly test their abilities and try out new tricks. An accident can happen at any time and once again supervision by a responsible adult is the key to pool-safety.

Pool water must be completely protected whilst not in use – to prevent drowning – with a Safety Cover, Security Fence, or a Safety Net. In the USA, Australia and France, to name but a few examples, every pool must be protected by a fence, cover or safety net by law. In many other countries there is a legal requirement to protect any pool that is not ’for the exclusive use of one family or household’. That means all Community pools, all pools at properties that are rented to holidaymakers or tourists, and all private pools where guests are invited along for a swim.

Teach and enforce basic pool rules

  • No eating, drinking, running or glassware in or near the pool.
  • Don’t dive from the side of an in-ground pool – enter the water feet first.
  • Don’t swim or dive if you’ve taken alcohol or drugs – your reactions will be slowed.
  • NEVER dive into above-ground pools; they are too shallow.
  • NEVER swim during a thunderstorm.

Under no circumstances allow or encourage swimmers to Hyperventilate in an attempt to swim further underwater. This practice can cause Shallow Water Blackout; the root cause of up to 50% of swimming pool fatalities.

Pool Safety Equipment

You should have a bare minimum of a ‘Shepherd’s Crook’ pool hook firmly fixed to a pole that will allow you to reach to the bottom of the deepest part of the pool, a First Aid box and a life belt. These items are only of use if they are within reach, so keep them poolside at all times.

You can find more information on pools and pool safety on Ken’s website mypoolguru.com