Januari 2020 – redactie Casa Propia

Stop the abuse of purchasers on the Spanish housing market!

Every year thousands of Spain enthusiasts buy an apartment or house in good faith without being fully informed. It is striking that virtually no real estate agent or lawyer website provides essential information that could at least have prevented part of the deception and fraud. The official websites of the College of Notaries and Registro de propiedad (government body where houses are registered) even guarantee certainty, while practice shows that this is not being achieved. It is remarkable that Casa Propia seems to be the first to say something about it. After all, it is important information that gives buyers confidence, and on the basis of which properties are purchased that with the correct information were probably not purchased for the agreed price or never bought at all.

It seems that the market benefits from a lack of transparency, and we must apparently accept the thousands of victims of deception and fraud every year. It is as if home buyers are proverbially sent onto the road without car insurance and a driver’s license. As long as you are not caught and nothing happens, but sooner or later you will face facts and the trouble begins. The buyer has the right to know what he is buying or has bought, the misleading must stop!

BUYERS MUST HAVE BEEN NAIVE

It is no secret that buying a house in Spain involves uncertainties. That is why it is recommended on websites and social media to engage a good real estate agent or lawyer and people logically follow recommendations. But what is good? From our survey where we asked buyers if they would buy a house with potential problems, the answer was almost unanimous No. Tehn how is it possible that it happens in huge numbers in all price ranges? Many will conclude that these buyers are naive. The fact is that our survey also shows that the majority made use of a real estate agent, a lawyer and eventually passed through a Spanish notary. Because of the “safety” it appears that professionals who speak English are often chosen, being a compatriot or Spaniard. The conclusion therefore can be no different than that there is a structural problem on the Spanish housing market and that naivety is certainly not the cause, but the abuse of trust.

TOO LATE

Purchasers almost always find out too late that their home is completely or partially illegal, that a time barred construction is not as innocent as it seems, that the lack of (valid) documents has serious consequences in obtaining permits, for example, for reforming, rebuilding, rental license or insurance coverage, but also affects the value and marketability of the home in the future. And anyone with experience with court cases or local authorities knows that, the arbitrary of decisions, is a silent killer.

TOGETHER AGAINST ABUSE OF BUYERS ON THE SPANISH HOUSE MARKET!

ANXIOUS

Once owner people barely dare to open their mouth out of for fear of the consequences from the municipality such as fines or forced demolition of illegal buildings, they are afraid to hold those responsible liable because this also reveals the problems with possible consequences, afraid of the consequences, high costs of a court case in combination with the enormous uncertainty regarding the Spanish jurisdiction. The saying of lawyers “better a bad deal than a big lawsuit” is not exactly encouraging if you want justice afterwards. You only have to follow the Spanish newspapers and television to know that scam and fraud on the housing market are not incidents. But despite the publicity year after year nothing changes. Through the British media people get a little bit of it, so that a Spaniard is more wary and better informed than the sun-worshiping foreigner who pursues his Spanish dream.

SILENT VICTIMS

We do not dare to estimate how many homeowners still do not know that they are victims of scam or fraud because it has not yet come to light. They only find out when major damage caused by fire, storm or water is not paid out (in which case valid documents are usually requested), a renovation or rental permit is not granted or extended, fines are imposed or outstanding taxes from the previous owner, control by the municipality or declaration by a neighbor of illegal construction or and that the property cannot be registered in your name in the official property register after payment and transfer to the notary. It is important that everyone checks his situation to avoid unpleasant news.

“IT WILL NOT HAPPEN TO ME”

Many people do know someone with a house in Spain or someone who is looking for a house. Of course not all homes are problem cases, luckily. But let’s not forget that because the Spanish housing market has a culture of illegal building and renovation we are talking huge numbers, from entire apartment buildings to chalets in the top segment. Many people who initially thought “it will not happen to me, because I am guided by good and reliable professionals”, meanwhile have to face the facts.

That relatively little comes out is because of the aforementioned fear, or perhaps even shame. As long as fear and shame reign, we will never break this vicious circle. And that must happen because Spain is perhaps the most beautiful country in Europe with lovely inhabitants!

“SUPPORT VICTIMS AND PREVENT NEW VICTIMS”

Casa Propia was founded by homeowners (including victims) to support others in finding solutions. Alone you just run into bureaucratic walls and you still don’t know if your case is in the hands of the right professionals. By sharing experiences and working together we achieve much more. If you are a victim of deception, join the Facebook group Casa Propia AFO.

Due to the lack of prevention, Casa Propia has incorporated the experiences of its members into an independent purchasing inspection, whereby the members check the professionals for ethics, reliability and professionalism. Not colleagues checking colleagues. That makes this inspection the only reliable in Spain, and is in addition to much more certainty also a huge saving on costs for the buyer.