Another off-plan disaster!

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This topic contains 26 replies, has 6 voices, and was last updated by Profile photo of Anonymous Anonymous 11 years, 1 month ago.

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  • #51285
    Profile photo of Anonymous
    Anonymous
    Participant

    I made the grave mistake of following the herd into the off-plan maze over two years ago. I put down a deposit on a development outside Marbella. After due consideration and what I thought good research into the market place I was lead into a misguided buy. At first I was persuaded to buy two apartments with the intentions of paying one off with the profits gained. I pulled out of of one of them (phew……) and only paid 15% down thinking how clever I was. Completion was to be November 2004. Nothing has happened since until last week.

    In my naivety I trusted the English lawyer with my purchase but he did not tell me that he was retiring and it was taken over by the other lawyers who were all Spanish. Unbeknown to me I still assumed that the English lawyer was in the background pulling the strings. Anyway to cut a long story short the lawyers did not think it in my interests to be protected in the contract which the developers drew up. In fact they did not even let me know the contents of the contract which they signed.

    I got a property which was misold to me, (agh yes you all say didn’t you double check all this at the time you silly bugger!!)

    Now I have a smaller penthouse than originally sold to me which is basically unsaleable (if there is such a word). I had purely bought with the intentions of selling on before completion.

    I have tried to auction it before completion, I have had endless angry emails flying at my solicitors.

    In the end I got another solicitor to take a look at the contract and he informed me that the developer has to pay me 50% of my deposit if I do not go to completion. My own solicitor did not have the decency to tell me this. So I confronted them on this and they appeared all vague. I have to ask myself if they are lining their own pockets via the estate agency and the developer?

    Well completion is nigh on the 20th October and I have been told that the developer has the right to sell on the property and after six months refund me the 50%.

    I was angry that the solicitor had not insisted on a total refund should I not choose to complete since the property will not sell. Yes I know lots of properties will not sell but this penthouse is way overpriced because the sq meters are not the sq meters I was sold and I was reassured by the agents that I was buying on the basis of selling on before completion. (What a schmuck I have been…………..)

    Now I am told by the agents who sold to me that it was a small 3-bed penthouse but they were quite happy to sell it to me in the first place knowing full well that it was overpriced for its size.

    My dilemma is whether I will see this deposit in the next six months or whether the developer will conveniently go bankrupt.

    I have thought about publicising my story, sticking very much to the facts. I have discovered that there are many people experiencing such shoddy treatment at the hands of the developers, agents and solicitors. I have even gone to the European Ombudsman but have heard nothing back as of yet as they will probably think that this is not a case for them.

    I have had my fingers well and truly burnt. In future I will only buy something outright if I can afford it and forget the off-plan route which only appears to serve the rich and unfortunately not the poor.

    To publicise or not to publicise, or do I just give up?

  • #59117
    Profile photo of Anonymous
    Anonymous
    Participant

    DON’T GIVE UP Tania!!! That’s why these agents/developers/lawyers get away with murder. It is stressful and can be expensive, but if enough of us keep kicking..maybe… things will improve in Spain. Let’s face it, it can only get better….can’t it? 🙁 😕

  • #59121
    Profile photo of Anonymous
    Anonymous
    Participant

    Did your lawyer work from a posh building in Marbella with blacked out windows whose name has changed at least 4 times in the last five years and the head of which `retired’ to the Far East?
    Your experience sounds very similar to our own. We also asked to see the contract before it was signed but we only received a copy much later. We also asked for a copy of the detailed specification that never arrived (it didn’t exist) but we did eventually get an English translation of the contract. However this didn’t match the original.
    Our developer appears to be going bankrupt. We have a contract that says we have a guarantee and we were assured by our former lawyers that this was valid. This turned out not to be true!
    Both Claire and I have had experience of these lawyers and like her we are not going to give up. Get yourself a good lawyer now and DON’T GIVE UP!

  • #59122
    Profile photo of Anonymous
    Anonymous
    Participant

    Hi Jon,

    Are you taking any action against the”lawyers in Marbella”? We are in the process. From info that I got from Barbara & Katrina,( The latest installment of our nightmare!!) it appears that the building licence for Santa Maria Greenhills was revoked in October 2003.!!!!!!! 👿 Our contract was not signed until late October, 2003, so they must have known this.. 😈 … B&K are very kindly sending us their written info.

    Our new lawyers have been in contact with the Collegio De Abigados, and spoken to them of our situation (taking 7,000 euro “legal expenses”) E-mail me, if you like.

    Claire.

  • #59134
    Profile photo of Anonymous
    Anonymous
    Participant

    Jon, Claire, I also was recommended that firm of lawyers by Ocean Estates, they were then known as Chambers Defoe, then Cortez Habsburg McCown now DLM. ( Mark, this is factual) Their senior partner cleared off to Thailand having been listed on http://www.crimeshare.com for timeshare fraud, type in his surname on that site to see.

    The same lawyers were mentioned in the Mail on Sunday linked to that estate agent mis-selling ‘land grab’ property on the C. Blanca, add a pinch of ‘White Whale’ too also a development recommended by same agents etc etc it’s beyond belief.

    I would normally say the word ‘corrupt’ but had better not this time.

    What happens to the layer or agent? NOTHING! as usual.

    Spain and it’s regulatory bodies keep ‘turning a blind eye’ because of the money involved. It really is a monumental scandal.

    Tania, stick at it, name names, expose the crooks, we are with you, and check the agent’s name maybe on http://www.blagger.com too.

  • #59139
    Profile photo of Anonymous
    Anonymous
    Participant

    I am a survivor, I won’t give up but I cannot afford to pursue these issues through the courts!!!

    The only course of action is to expose the tyrants, get up a petition and form a alliance with the many people who are in similar situtations.

    Mark you are the writer and journalist what is your opinion on this?

    You have obviously set up this site to get acrosss controversial issues concerning buying and selling of Spanish property amongst other things!!

    I need your assistance on this matter, this would be much appreciated; or indeed how to go about publicising this through the press without incurring defamation charges!!

    How to be diplomatic whilst exposing the crap out there in Spain.

  • #59143
    Profile photo of Anonymous
    Anonymous
    Participant

    Would just like to add an extra word of caution for anyone who use’s the lawyers mentioned above by Paul, If you are one of the lucky one’s who actually gets the apartment that you’ve paid for “off plan” Please make sure that the above lawyers return any monies owed to you from the stage payments, I used this awful company also Via Awful Estates and they over estimated my payments by nearly 2000€ which they conveniently forgot to tell me when we completed, I only found out by chance 2 years later !! If I hadn’t been given some friendly advice, I doubt very much that anyone would have ever volunteered to give me my own money back!!
    I wonder how much money they’ve amassed from this little trick!!

  • #59176
    Profile photo of Anonymous
    Anonymous
    Participant

    Hi Tania,

    I have set up this website and forum to bring greater transparency to the Spanish property business, which should help improve professional standards, and also to help foreigners understand and avoid the risks when buying in Spain. Despite all the negative things that are said here it doesn’t change the fact that Spain is a fabulous country to live in or have a holiday home in – if you get the purchase right. So that’s what this is all about, transparency – to put pressure on the sector to clean up its act, and education – to empower you the buyers with knowledge so you can’t be taken advantage of and know where the risks are.

    I’d love to help you. However it is important to realise that my main contribution is helping people avoid the pitfalls in the first place. It’s much more difficult for me to be of help once the problems have started, as then it usually becomes a legal matter best left to a trustworthy lawyer (which I can recommend).

    However I may be able to help in publicising your experience and putting pressure on the companies that have let you down. I say ‘may’ because I’m not an editor and don’t decide what gets published and what doesn’t. On the other hand you are already doing a good job by using this forum, which is read by many people who are interested in Spanish property.

    Please feel free to send me a concise and factual account of your problems, mentioning dates, places, names, etc. Please don’t post it here, send it to me by email (contact details below).

    Kind regards

    Mark

  • #59179
    Profile photo of Anonymous
    Anonymous
    Participant

    Mark , this is a powerful forum !! When I spoke at length by phone to Barbara & Katarina, Who also thought they were going to be LIVING at Greenhills, I asked them how they got onto the forum. Katarina said that when they returned home from Spain Saturday evening, she was still so mad, that she did a google search for something like ” Eralia Santa Maria Greenhills Complaints” and was sent to this forum. I tried it too and got the same result.

    Mark,I will take this opportunity of thanking you sincerely for setting this forum up. It has been a lifeline for my husband and me…………if only it could have been a couple of years sooner 😀

    Claire

  • #59184
    Profile photo of Anonymous
    Anonymous
    Participant

    Don’t know if these incidents are a result of the property boom over the last few years or if we have just been lucky. We have bought and sold three times and never had any problems. The first time we bought an estate agent fried told us never to buy off-plan and that was ten years ago. I think of all the things I hear now I would be reluctant to buy again.

    Think Claire’s case is appalling the builder should be up for fraud and the lawyers in question struck off.

  • #59188
    Profile photo of Anonymous
    Anonymous
    Participant

    Guest…Thank you 🙂

  • #59208
    Profile photo of Anonymous
    Anonymous
    Participant

    Hi all,

    I have received yet another depressing email from my solicitor the contents being

    I will try the developers give me more time to comepete but I have the meeting with them on Thusday at 10:00 in Malaga. If they do not accept to delay the completion we will have to discharge the contract.
    On the other hand, yes I requested the developers the insurance covering the amounts already paid although this insurance has already expired since you had to complete some months ago. They are not going to increase the period for the insurance polizy since the rest of the buyers have already completed.
    In the case the developers do not respect the clauses stated in the contract and they do not refund you the 50% of the amounts already paid you could start a court procedure against them to ask for that money.

    I would like to inform you that tomorrow is Holiday in Marbella so I will contact you on Thursday afternoon.

    They have not taken my wishes into account. I told them right from the start I did not wish to complete it was purely an investment to be sold before completion. They told me nothing about an insurance covering the amounts paid nor did they check and protect my interests to receive a refund of 50% and now they have the cheek to suggest I may have to take the developers to court!!!

    No wonder I don’t have confidence in this crooked market area.

    Like I said the solicitors are the winners etc etc.

    DrakAn may make all the comments he likes as to people having to take responsibility for their purchases, sales (not his words but my interpretation) at the end of the day the solicitors are compounding the poor service which we receive from them.

  • #59233
    Profile photo of Anonymous
    Anonymous
    Participant

    I told them right from the start I did not wish to complete it was purely an investment to be sold before completion.

    Thats speculation not investment Tania, and more risky I’m afraid.

  • #59237
    Profile photo of Anonymous
    Anonymous
    Participant

    Whilst I have every sympathy with Claire I think the complaints of Tania are completely unjustified, so she speculated to buy something she didn’t want to complete on, well so have thousands of others, tough. If the developers gave everyone their money back who were unable to resell they would be out of business. Tania was speculating and if you do this you have to be prepared to lose too.

  • #59240
    Profile photo of Anonymous
    Anonymous
    Participant

    @anonymous wrote:

    I told them right from the start I did not wish to complete it was purely an investment to be sold before completion.

    Thats speculation not investment Tania, and more risky I’m afraid.

    Exactly Tania. You speculated, an investment is a long-time affair.

    You expected to sell before completion, that is 100% speculation and you have been badly burnt as a result.

    If you had done exactly the same back in years prior to 2001/2000 you would’ve made double or triple the amount of money you speculated tax- free I have personally done it and so have many of the law firm’s clients.

    Your market-timing was ill-judged and there is no one to blame but yourself. Speculation has it’s pitfalls as well as huge rewards. You have to study the market carefully. Patience and planning ahead yield huge rewards.

    Your lawyer are not responsible for that and neither are the EAs.

    The EAs are there to show you properties not to be your personal bankers or personal finance advisors assesing you in complex investment schemes such as off-plan or buying-to-let; that is not their job and they are not duly qualified for that. What do you expect the EA to do ? He makes a living out of selling properties. The EAs saves you time from looking all over the place, supposing you have the time for that. They can be very pushy, but you shouldn’t trust them as finacial advisors because they are not. Their advice is flawed to the root.

    Trust them to show you around and help you waive language problems and guide you through the whole purchasing process etc.. but that’s about it.

    That being said, it’s up to you to make sure the numbers add, not the solicitors, developers or EAs. It’s your money, you take your chances.

    If you haven’t made money because you haven’t been able to sell or pass on the property before completion only you are to blame for taking a risk.

    Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

    A whole different matter is If your lawyers fail you because they haven’t obtained the bank gurantees before completion thus ensuring your downpayments and deposit or If they haven’t assesed you correctly.

    Other than that Tania, I’m sorry, but we -myself included- lose at times investing in real estate or the stock market and other times we earn alot of money but I never go on forums crying over all the money I’ve lost out of a bad investment, tough on me. It’s a calculated risk I’m willing to take, If you are not prepared to lose, don’t play.

  • #59257
    Profile photo of Anonymous
    Anonymous
    Participant

    Thank you for your non-constructive criticism and good night.

    Like I said:

    I have had my fingers well and truly burnt. In future I will only buy something outright if I can afford it and forget the off-plan route which only appears to serve the rich and unfortunately not the poor.

    I was not looking to be reprimanded like some naughty girl for being a novice at off-plan investing as described by those who sell it to you!

    I was looking for advice not daggers in my back. I was a novice investor who thought that the path I had taken was right based on what the agents/solicitors/developers had told me.

    Last message for DrakAN.

    I sent you over the details of my contract as requested and then you have the cheek to make such snide comments. What was the point of me doing that? Do you enjoy being merciless to those less fortunate than yourself.

    I would not be surprised if you had contacted my solicitors in Spain to cause me further pain!!

    Anyway it appears to me that you all seem to get your delights and thrills through acrimonious comments. Saying there goes another schmuck crying over spilt milk. Well thanks for that. I cannot see the point in getting a decent response from some of you so this is my last posting you are welcome to one another!!

  • #59260
    Profile photo of Anonymous
    Anonymous
    Participant

    tania,

    you brought it on yourself with your bleeting about how hard done you where! At first reading we fealt sorry for you – then you just went on about how you wanted your money back as you had NO intentions to complete.. duh….. You signed a contract to complete YOU broke the contract you have no legal obligation to get your money back. You speculated and got it wrong therefore you will lose your deposit – its black and white – why should you get special treatment?

    Now you are having a temper tantrum because you dont like to hear the truth 🙄

  • #59266
    Profile photo of Anonymous
    Anonymous
    Participant

    Hi Everyone

    I don’t think we should be hard on Tania because she was ill advised. many people come here and rightly or wrongly trust what their agents and lawyers tell them. Why do they place so much trust in people.

    Firstly because of language problems – they don’t speak the language well enough to understand what is going on

    Secondly lack of time. Most people coming over here have a limited amount of time to find a property and all the people we need to make the process smooth.

    Thirdly our experience in our home country. You wouldn’t expect a lawyer or an estate agent in the UK to knowingly ill advise you – mainly because the law is on your side. The UK is part of the EU and we all know the EU has rules that must be abided by – and the UK does (and is probably the only one in Europe that does so). So we can draw a conclusion that if it is in the UK and Spain is also in the EU then surely a lawyer is a person we can trust in – otherwise we will have course for redress later.

    So whilst it may be naive of people such as Tania to come over here and think their agents will advise them for their best interests (and I don’t think it is too naive to assume this) I hardly think it warrants the scathing attack on Tania when she came to this forum for advice.

    Perhaps Tania was ill advised and perhaps also didn’t look into the speculation or market well enough, but when you are told by agents that the market is hot and that property is selling like hot cakes and you hear it enough times then yes you get to the point where you begin to believe it. It is then when alarm bells should sound and at least do your own research into the area

    However I was led down a similar alley. Although I went in with my eyes open I believed someone when they told me I could convert my new adosado into two apartments – my whole reason for buying it. Only to find out that I couldn’t- one year down the line.

    I didn’t have any reason to doubt what I was being told because I worked with the agent in question – he actually believed it. In fact in principle it is possible – all I need ot do is get permission from all the other owners of the development, get permission from the town hall, then carry out the work. However it is highly unlikely. So had I have trusted less and done more research I would have probably not bought this property. However I took the easy way out and believed what I was being told.

    I have a feeling this may be the case of many more.

    I don’t feel bad about it because the property I bought is still a good investment. And I do understand what others are saying that when you speculate you must be prepared to lose out. But we also have to place a certain amount of trust in the people who are advising us or spend a lot of time checking up from various sources whether what we are being told is true or not.

    So come on people help Tania make a decision to get out of her mess and give her advice — but dont castigate her for daring to ask advice – what message will that spell to anyone else – dont go to this forum because they’ll tear your head off for asking – and I don’t believe that is the case.

    Regards

    Vince

  • #59268
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    Anonymous
    Participant

    Well said Vince. 🙂

    I was in the process of replying, when a chap turned up to do a job here, and I lost the post that I was writing. I agree with what you said. I do not see why we should expect to get “shafted” when dealing with lawyers/developers/agents in Spain.

  • #59280
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    Anonymous
    Participant

    Totally agree with you Vince and Claire.

  • #59312
    Profile photo of Anonymous
    Anonymous
    Participant

    Well Tania I apologise If I was harsh on you.

    And I’m not such a fortunate person as you think.

  • #59429
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    Anonymous
    Participant

    Hi DrakAN,

    I accept your apology. What happened to the info I sent you? Have you binned it?

    To those of you who have shown support I would like to thank you too.

    To the person who mentioned that I was having a tantrum I can’t agree I just put forward the facts of my issue hoping for genuine advice and a modicum of civility. No more no less. Also I believe people should be respectful of one another. Treat people as you would like to be treated.

    After viewing the forum as Mark suggested I do I decided to continue taking an interest in the various issues to hand. It goes without saying that there are some very good pieces of information flying around. I think that everyone experiencing difficulties should get moral support. The forum should benefit all of us in one way or another so long as we are gracious in our dealings towards each other.

    So once again my thanks to those of you who have shown kindness and fairness.

  • #59611
    Profile photo of Anonymous
    Anonymous
    Participant

    Hi DrakAN,

    I accept your apology. What happened to the info I sent you? Have you binned it?

    To those of you who have shown support I would like to thank you too.

    To the person who mentioned that I was having a tantrum I can’t agree I just put forward the facts of my issue hoping for genuine advice and a modicum of civility. No more no less. Also I believe people should be respectful of one another. Treat people as you would like to be treated.

    After viewing the forum as Mark suggested I do I decided to continue taking an interest in the various issues to hand. It goes without saying that there are some very good pieces of information flying around. I think that everyone experiencing difficulties should get moral support. The forum should benefit all of us in one way or another so long as we are gracious in our dealings towards each other.

    So once again my thanks to those of you who have shown kindness and fairness.

  • #59436
    Profile photo of Anonymous
    Anonymous
    Participant

    Tania,

    Some options you and your (good) lawyer/surveyor might wish to consider to possibly get you out of your off plan pickle, (assuming you don’t want to complete with the developer)

    1. Misrepresentation.

    Have you any documentation from the developer or their agent suggesting a predicted return ie capital growth, rental return etc. A good lawyer might use this as leverage to extradite you.

    2. Condition/Finish

    What are the sales contract provisions regarding quality/standard of finish, a good lawyer and surveyor could make the developers life hell if they chose to be pedantic about the term of the contract in this respect.

    3. Publicity

    Would adverse publicity affect the developer at the subject property or some current development. Could it be that ‘you work’ for a large media organisation in the UK and are friendly with the property editor, etc.

    The above advice assumes that the developer would be tractable to a little ‘political’ pressure, these things are never a question of win win, more a question of damage limitation, it is up to you to do the cost benefit analysis.

    good luck

  • #59625
    Profile photo of Anonymous
    Anonymous
    Participant

    Tania,

    Some options you and your (good) lawyer/surveyor might wish to consider to possibly get you out of your off plan pickle, (assuming you don’t want to complete with the developer)

    1. Misrepresentation.

    Have you any documentation from the developer or their agent suggesting a predicted return ie capital growth, rental return etc. A good lawyer might use this as leverage to extradite you.

    2. Condition/Finish

    What are the sales contract provisions regarding quality/standard of finish, a good lawyer and surveyor could make the developers life hell if they chose to be pedantic about the term of the contract in this respect.

    3. Publicity

    Would adverse publicity affect the developer at the subject property or some current development. Could it be that ‘you work’ for a large media organisation in the UK and are friendly with the property editor, etc.

    The above advice assumes that the developer would be tractable to a little ‘political’ pressure, these things are never a question of win win, more a question of damage limitation, it is up to you to do the cost benefit analysis.

    good luck

  • #59650
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    Anonymous
    Participant

    Glad you are back Tania, I think surveyor offers some good advice as does Drakan, personally the publicity (negative) route worked for me with Awful, raise public awareness and stick together for support.

  • #59450
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    Anonymous
    Participant

    Glad you are back Tania, I think surveyor offers some good advice as does Drakan, personally the publicity (negative) route worked for me with Awful, raise public awareness and stick together for support.

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