Things to consider when buying a new build or off-plan property in Spain

New builds in Spain can offer a perfectly packaged dream holiday home or permanent place in the sun! The advantages of a new build and off-plan properties in Spain often include a communal swimming pool and other leisure facilities plus an instant community so they are appealing for many people looking for their Spanish home from home. But like any property purchase you should always exercise caution and make sure your interests are protected when buying a new build property in Spain.

Here are our top tips for things to be aware of and how to avoid the pitfalls when buying a Spanish new build property or off-plan property purchases in Spain.

Research, visit and ask plenty of questions

It might sound obvious but visiting a new-build development in Spain is crucial. Glossy brochures and clever marketing techniques can hide a multitude of sins! A swanky new build Spanish complex might not be quite so dazzling if it’s sitting next to a busy road or a million miles from civilisation.

With vast development taking place across Spain, properties are often marketed on the basis of additional development in the region – new shops, restaurants and leisure facilities, for instance – in good faith, but these may not be part of the complex itself. So, if you’re buying a new build Spanish apartment on the basis that it a stone’s throw from a brand-new golf course, make sure that it’s actually going to be built. A property developer can’t be responsible for another developer’s change of heart.

Check out the location at different times of year. A lively summer resort may become a ghost town in the winter months, so if you’re after year-round hustle and bustle be sure to check out the area in the cooler months. Likewise, if you want peace and quiet find out what the location is like in the peak season.

Instruct an INDEPENDENT Spanish lawyer!

It is absolutely vital that you instruct a Spanish lawyer who is independent i.e. is not in any way connected to the developer or development. Do not use the developer’s suggested lawyer and source your own! Your lawyer needs to be completely objective, be happy to bring any potential issues to your attention and make sure the Spanish off-plan purchase contract protects your interests as far as possible. The developer’s lawyers are likely to have a conflict of interest and so should be avoided- we can not stress this strongly enough!

Is the property bank guaranteed?  

Many people suffered the effects of the property crash in 2008, with developers and builders going bust left, right and centre. Buying off-plan in Spain, thankfully, is currently much less risky as a result. However, you should always proceed with caution and ensure that an off-plan property purchase in Spain is bank guaranteed in the event that the builder or developer goes bankrupt or defaults on their obligations for another reason, to protect your interests.       

Expect delays in building Spanish off-plan properties! 

Let’s face it, when do builders ever run on schedule? And when it comes to Spanish builders there’s always mañana! Be prepared to factor in a few delays when buying new-build or off-plan property purchases in Spain. You should be kept informed of any setbacks in the schedule though, so make sure your point of contact has up-to-date contact details for you to communicate this. You should speak to your Spanish lawyer to ensure that the anticipated completion dates are recorded in your Spanish new build purchase contract so as to give you maximum protection should the delays become unacceptable.

Make yourself aware of the warranties and snagging procedures

Developers in Spain are legally obligated to ensure that new build properties are covered by an insurance for 10 years, following completion, much like the NHBC Buildmark warranty in the UK, for instance. In Spain it’s known as Seguro Decenal, and covers the property owners against serious structural issues. Ensuring that you have the correct documentation from the developer with regards to the Seguro Decenal on completion is crucial in case you need to make a claim further down the line.

Technically, the companies involved in building the property are legally responsible for covering less serious faults, such as a leaking roof, for instance for up to three years after completion as well as correcting ‘snagging’ issues for up to a year. However, not all companies are as professional as you’d hope and can shy away from their responsibilities once they’ve handed the keys over. While it is their legal obligation, trying to get them to comply can be more costly than fixing the problem yourself. So, it’s worth doing your research into the reputation of the developer and builder and checking the contract with regards to warranties and snagging before signing on the dotted line!

 Are there any service charges or communal fees?

If buying a property that’s part of a larger complex with shared facilities, ask about service charges or communal fees up front so you can budget accordingly. You might think you’re getting a bargain until the annual service charge bill lands on your doorstep. It’s also worth checking whether these fees are automatically increased annually.  

Make sure your property in Spain is fit for purpose

It’s important that you’re up front about the use of your property with your estate agent and Spanish lawyer. If you intend to rent your Spanish property out as a holiday let, for instance, let them know so that you can be sure it’s legal to do so. Many regions in Spain are clamping down on holiday rentals and you may require a Spanish rental license to rent out the property. The rules vary from region to region and are dependent on the type of property, so before you sign anything or part with any cash make sure you seek legal advice on this.

If you want your very own slice of sunshine and are considering buying a property in Spain, new build or otherwise, contact us today on 01244 478911 or email info@totalbuyingabroad.com to find out how we can help you buy property in Spain safely and efficiently. 

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Article published: October 24, 2018