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Can you have your cake and eat it?

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I recently took on a property search for a couple who were facing a familiar dilemma. They were attracted to buying a second home in Spain because of the change in lifestyle and culture but as they didn’t yet speak the  language were a little nervous about buying in an area where they might feel isolated. They were aware that one option was buying on an urbanisation that would give them a foothold in the country with the opportunity of getting to learn the language and more of the area at their own pace later on.

When I met them on location I challenged them on their assumption that they would learn Spanish and benefit from a different culture by surrounding themselves by expats and suggested that we consider a mixture of areas with different levels of ‘exposure’.

View of Spanish hillsTo be fair to them, they hadn’t visited the north east of Almeria before but the limited research they had done led them to believe they’d get more for their money than on the south coast which is spot on. And just as well. They were after a townhouse with  2-3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms and outside space to be purchased with a budget of £100k. Now don’t get me wrong, these exist, but examples you’d actually want to spend your holidays in and buy with money you’ve spent years earning? Not so easy.

Thankfully, my task got easier when I learnt that my clients weren’t that bothered about being close to the sea. Suddenly their budget was looking a lot healthier.

More often than not, purchasers are rewarded with improved size or style of property the more adventurous they are when considering a location. Of course, some prefer to be surrounded by familiarity and the practicalities of the amenities and facilities on offer in some urbanisations can be hugely attractive. The opposite can be said for more rural or traditional locations but the cultural stimuli on offer speaks for itself.  But there’s also a (wrongly) perceived level of risk for choosing one type of location over another. After some sensational historic stories of ‘Spanish land grab’ many opt for urbanisations believing them a low risk option. 

Others hear stories of issues of older and sometimes more rural properties having issues with title, planning consent and even  ownership as many properties are passed down from one generation to another until they are eventually sold. Simply put, these properties may not have had any conveyancing done for decades, maybe more but that shouldn’t put you off. Such issues are just legal details that any  independent, expert lawyer will go through as part of the conveyancing process - just the same as they should highlight the different rules and regulations of buying on an urbanisation such as management fees, rules of ownership, letting fees and so on.

If you really want me to labour the point ; let’s compare the amount of clients we are reclaiming lost deposits for from unfinished developments to those with issues from buying outside of urbanisations. Perhaps not a fair comparison but the fact remains that any decent lawyer working for you will go through the relevant issues for the purchase whatever the type of property – that’s what they do. 

They should in fact unburden you from such negativity and empower you up to choose a location and property that actually suits you and your needs. The only problems I ever come across are from people who didn’t use an independent lawyer in the first place. 

So what location did my clients go for? A very small urbanisation on the edge of a traditional Spanish town. It seems they did actually want their cake and ate it too!