One person’s quest to find property in Spain


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  • #51092
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    With kind permission from Jan I am posting the reports that she emails me of her search for property. Others can learn from her experience.


    Hi Mark,
    We can’t thank you enough for the invaluable information you are
    providing through your web-site! We have just read your Feb.2005
    review which is extremley enlightening. My husband & I are looking
    to relocate around the Albox area in Almeria, but are waiting for
    the ‘right’ property. We have recently returned from a hard sell
    inspection trip in both this area & Murcia where we were really made
    to feel that we ‘had’ to buy a new build, whereas we wanted a resale
    property to buy now.

    We both have second properties apart from our main dwelling, one of
    which is currently for sale to enable us to buy another in Spain.

    After listening to you on our new property channel we reliase that
    the information you are giving conflicts very much from the
    information given by the reps. on our 4 day inspection trip!

    Unfortunately for the rep. in question I was in a position to ask
    her & her collegue some rather leading questions as I have been
    involved in Estate Agency & we have both been involved in the
    financial services sector for a number years. It was obvious that
    she became rather unsettled & usually declined to answer my direct
    questions! (She especially did not like our questions regarding
    Capital Gains Tax).

    When we first met she actually offered me a job with their company
    but I declined as I unfortunately have a conscience!! We managed to
    escape her clutches unscathed & are now looking to return to Spain
    on our own as usual! (just hire a car & clear off)!

    We are still hoping to find our dream home within 30mins of the
    coast which will allow me to hopefully gain useful employment nearby.

    Please carry on with your very important work which we are sure will
    benefit lots of miserable people like us who are more than fed up
    with the UK in every respect & would like to join you in the sun!

    ‘Thank you’ once more.

    March 2005

    Hi Mark,

    Many thanks for your latest bulletin. You have rather voiced our
    opinion as to the present state of the housing market in Spain. The
    market is almost totally flat in the UK as well, due to the
    recession that no one dares talk about!! We expect that this will
    only come to light once the General Election has passed and interest
    rates start increasing once again.

    The media appear to have a gagging order concerning this, even
    though the ordinary man in the street is aware that all is not well
    and hence has a reluctance to buy luxury items. This is reflected in
    various retail company reports made available by the Stock Exchange
    in interviews made on TV. We feel that many homeowners, who, having
    seen their properties escalate wildly over the past few years and
    have remortgaged to purchase their ‘dream holiday home’ or that four
    wheel drive that seems to give many Brits the status symbol they
    must have nowadays, are now wondering whether they were in fact
    rather naïve in doing so, as everything in the end has to be paid

    Recently we have received an email from an estate agent advertising
    a property auction in and around the Torrevieja area. There were
    literally dozens of properties, mainly flats, on this site, many of
    which we had seen advertised for 9 months or more. Last week we met
    a man who lived in Torrevieja and owned several properties there. He
    was so disillusioned with the overcrowding and intense building and
    crime level in that area, that he was selling up and intended to buy
    in Portugal where he assured us it was more peaceful!

    We returned from Spain three weeks ago after a very enlightening and
    informative visit. We found many real estate agents offices closed,
    only seeing clients by appointment and this we found very
    disconcerting! The offices that were open were as you can imagine,
    very welcoming and anxious to find us that “dream home”. We quickly
    became aware that several agents were selling the same properties,
    but at vastly differing prices in many cases! It appears that some
    agents are greedier than others. We feel that these individuals are
    helping to push up the property prices in this area to unrealistic

    On several occasions we spoke to vendors (mainly expats) selling
    their properties through an estate agent in order to move on, or
    return to the UK. We were informed that the percentage increase over
    and above what they, the vendor was asking and would be happy with,
    could be anything up to 50% with the estate agent. This appears to
    be creating a situation where the resale property prices are so far
    removed from the ‘off plan’ price, as to completely put the
    prospective buyer off purchasing anything other than a new build or
    off plan property, thereby leaving a surplus of resale properties
    that few can afford. We can also report that the vendors were not
    very happy with this situation and were resorting to erecting a ‘se
    vende’ sign on their property to sell direct.

    We would like to see some form of control to regulate sale prices
    so, as in the UK, if more than one estate agent is selling the same
    property, the price is agreed and all concerned advertise the
    property at this price and agree a fixed % commission. We have seen
    many adverts promoting the same property advertised on the internet
    at widely differing prices, so “buyer beware” is an apt phrase in
    this scenario!!

    We have spoken to several respectable builders however, who appear
    to be endeavouring to keep their new build prices under control by
    employing individual property consultants to sell their off plan and
    new build properties for them. This shift from the estate agents
    appears to be paying off as many new build sites were sold or almost
    sold out when we visited in April this year.

    One Spanish agent we spent several hours with was unforgettable! He
    was very nice, but appeared to be unaware of the requirement of an
    NIE number and assured us that we did not need any legal
    documentation to buy a property! He took us to several new build
    properties. Several of these, although attractive and well built,
    were on plots exceeding 1000m2. When questioned regarding the
    legalities of these, he did admit that they were ‘naves’ and built
    on agricultural land and obviously had no legal papers. He said that
    this however was “no problem” as we could apply for legal deeds in
    two years time and all would be ok!!

    Although we liked the properties, and they were undoubtably well
    built, we did not share his confidence that all would be well and
    felt that we were more likely to see our lovely home bulldozed like
    an unfortunate lady we heard about through a rental agency. She had
    lost her life savings in this manner and was reduced to renting a
    small property in Spain as she could not afford to return to the UK.

    We are returning to Albox next week to explore the area in more
    detail and will now look for a rental property as we feel that this
    is the best course of action in the short term.

    Kind regards, hope you find this useful.

    April 3rd 2005

    Dear Mark,

    Anything to help others trying to escape the UK economy and weather!

    With regards to Torreveja, we were taken by there by an agent on one of their hard sell “dream location tours” in
    February. It was more like seeing all your worst nightmares rolled
    up into one. We now call the high rise properties, “slums in the
    sun”. On your suggestion however, if we have the misfortune to lose
    our sense of direction and find ourselves there again, we will
    certainly takes a few pegs for our noses, hold our breath and keep
    on driving!!

    We are off to Albox again tomorrow (can’t wait) via Granada airport
    this time having never landed there before. We usually use San Javia
    which we like as it is never very busy. I suppose when the new
    airport is in operation all that will change.

    Several estate agents in Almeria area were very pleased to learn of
    your website, although we were surprised that they were unaware of
    its’ existance in the first place. They said it would be most
    helpful when dealing with the increasing number of Brits fleeing
    from Blair!

    By the way, whereabouts are you situated, as on the Real Estate TV
    programme you appear to be in Alicante?

    I realise that you are probably aware of most of the information
    sent by us following a visit, so are you still interested in hearing
    more of our adventures in the new frontier of Almeria province?!

    We won’t be offended if you are getting bored with our comments!

    Keep up the good work!!


    May 2005

    Hi Mark

    We had a very exciting time during our last visit to Albox and, as we
    were unable to find a suitable property, we decided to find a plot of
    land to buy instead in the location we liked and, would you believe
    it, we did! The site was owned by a very prominent builder, (ex mayor
    of Albox) and we were interviewed by him personally to ascertain our
    suitability. First time I’ve ever had to answer twenty questions
    correctly before being allowed to purchase property.

    Thankfully, after a lengthy discussion through an interpreter, we
    were given a clean bill of health and allowed to purchase the land,
    with the stipulation that his company would construct a property of
    our choice following the sale of one of our properties in the UK. We
    were informed by the interpreter that he was very selective as to
    whom he sold his land to as he was trying to create a prestigious
    development. Evidently didn’t want any riffraff -(It’s a wonder he
    accepted us)!!!

    He also presented me with a CD of flamenco guitar music played and
    compilled by a good friend of his who was very famous in Spain!

    When we get back on line properly I will send a more detailed account
    as we have loads more incidents to tell of, but this may take a
    little time as you will know doubt realise.

    We are back in Albox at the end of the month to look at the plot
    again and hopefully meet some of the neighbours already in situ.

    Kind Regards for now.

    June 2005

    Hola again Mark!

    Thank you for your concern! We greatly appreciate it. Hopefully we
    have followed all your helpful directions via your website so far and
    we are off again tomorrow to introduce ourselves to our would be
    neighbours and carry out further investigations in the Almeria area!

    We have a solicitor who was recommended by several people (not the
    builder however, who recommended no one and definately not the
    ex-mayor as we have heard many stories of ‘doggy dealings’)!

    We have asked her for her hourly charges but she has not given any
    information so far. That being, we are of course off to see her asap!
    There will obviously be a gap in time for the small amount of work
    undertaken by her regarding the purchase of the land, which we will
    pay for now and the eventual fee for the work undertaken for the
    build following the sale of a property in the UK.

    As we had previous knowledge of both illegal builds and sites during
    our many visits, we asked for and were shown a plan and the plot
    number of our proposed site, which was on a designated urban plot,
    the licence for which had been granted and duly stamped by the town hall.
    (We took photos of it just in case)!

    Also, we have applied for our NIE no’s following a visit to
    Manchester. We downloaded a copy of your application form and
    followed all the instructions on your website. On presenting the forms which a cheque, we were informed that only cash payments were accepted and they did not require any evidence of the property purchase! We however suggested that they took a copy of the contract we held and passed it,together with everything else we had brought to Madrid for

    We appear to be up and running after our brush with the rogue dialler
    so will endevour to give you a more comprehensive report on our

    Keep your fingers crossed that my property sells quickly please!!

    June 2005

  • #58440
    Profile photo of Anonymous

    Hi, I have just found your site and have found it very informative. We are considering buying a property in Spain, and have certainly taken on board all the information on the various subjects. We are going over in September to rent for a couple of weeks and look around a few areas and get a feel for them. I look forward to reading Jan’s experiences.

  • #58658
    Profile photo of Anonymous

    Can anyone explain what a ‘nave’ is (mentioned by Jan re: property with land over 1000m)? we are looking to buy property in Asturias, most of which has land of this amount or more and I am suddenly worried!!

    Liz. 😕

  • #58659
    Profile photo of Anonymous


    It’s quite refreshing that people are becoming more aware of the many pitfalls and scams re buying property in Spain, and due to sites like this as well as articles in the S. Times etc.

    Agents are though still trying it on with unwary customers telling them they must get in quick etc etc. However it appears that there are many ‘redundant’ sales people around now in Spain and according to chat on ‘living in andalucia’ and ‘general’, one large agent said to be Interealty has just closed down.

    Occasionally there are a few very sad people (Frank) who seem to revel in peoples’ misfortune regarding investing on that site, whereas I’ve found that on this site people primarily help each other based on their own often bad experiences. This site has so far been the only unbiased site to refer to in my experience, although it is good news that there are a few ‘name and shame’ sites appearing too. and as their approach is also useful.

  • #58661
    Profile photo of Anonymous

    A “nave” is a building for agricultural purposes, not for habitation though it usually has services. It is all you can get permission for on land of a certain size these days in Andalucia. Having said that many Spaniards seem to get away with converting naves into dwellings, although the chances of these ever being legal is nil. At the moment. If you’re looking for somewhere to live, steer clear of land with a nave.

  • #58662
    Profile photo of Anonymous

    Thanks for the info about ‘naves’. Does anyone know if this law only applies to Andalucia or is it the same everywhere? Also are we fairly safe if the house isn’t a recent conversion? If the vendor has legal papers of ownership is this enough, or do they need other papers to show legality as well?

    Sorry about all the questions!


  • #58665
    Profile photo of Anonymous

    hi mark this is my first post so bear with me.can you or anyone else give me any information on a company called PROCOAL VILLIAS. they are at present building at albox. i shall be in spain in october and will look in that area with a veiw to purchase a villia.

  • #58679
    Profile photo of Anonymous

    Fisherman, I don’t know that company so can’t give you much advise on that score.

    As you have registered with the form you will be notified automatically by email if someone replies.


  • #58692
    Profile photo of Anonymous

    I have just gone through the rather lengthy process of selling one home here on the Costa Blanca and buying another in the same region, more suited to my needs.

    <snip: if you wish to recommend companies, please do so by email to>

    Like others have mentioned on this forum, I would also advise against using companies who offer inspection trips, unless you would find it enjoyable to spend 4 days stuck in a mini bus travelling around looking at show houses, with the “hard sell” salesman in your face 24/4. Not only that, if you do buy from them, your “free” or “cheap” inspection trip will end up costing you in excess of €10,000, thats right, TEN THOUSAND EUROS! Thats a fact, because this is what companies like that will charge you in comission for the property you buy.
    Tom E

  • #58783
    Profile photo of Anonymous

    More from Jan, in response to Fisherman’s question:

    Procoal Villas are a well publicised high profile property agent in
    the Albox area and have massive hoardings on high ground as you
    approach the town of Albox together with numerous posters around the
    area. We have spoken to various locals about the many agents and
    builders with mixed results. Issues to look out for: high builiding costs, building permits. On the plus side plot sizes and locations are quite excellent. ‘Fisherman’ should proceed with caution and speak to as many local people as possible.

    Also, there are only a few licenced Estate Agents in Albox who are
    sadly outnumbered by the unlicenced rogue agents who may be English
    or Spanish. He should be aware of this as many, but not all, so
    called estate agents conduct their businesses from home and sit
    around outside the bars in town all day, armed with their portfolios,
    waiting to whisk a prospective and perhaps unwary buyer off to view
    some rather dubious properties in the middle of nowhere. This
    excursion may even take him off for several hours through a rambla
    (dried river bed) to view a property either in the middle of the
    rambla or an old cortijo needing a life times work, half way up the
    bank of the rambla. We know because we had been there, so as to speak
    and it’s a waste of several valuable hours. Also, it’s not such a
    good idea to contemplate buying anywhere near a rambla as the
    occasional flash flood may occur. Newbuilds are not allowed to be
    built in, or near the edge of a rambla in this region for obvious
    reasons, but we have found many built within the last few years that
    although illegal are inhabited!

    He should also ensure that as a fault line runs through this region
    it is suseptable to the rare earth tremour and newbuilds have to meet
    a certain critiria in their method of construction. This means that
    there should be a reinforced concrete frame.

    If he should decide to approach a builder direct, he should ensure
    that they are an established company and the letters S.L or S.A.will
    be shown after their name on literature.

    I hope this helps and does not put him off too much, as there are
    many good people in this area who are extreemly friendly and helpful
    towards the English in general.

    Kind Regards,

    (sent in by email to forum admin)

  • #58784
    Profile photo of Anonymous


    TM Torreblanca I found were a very professional and honest company to use – I am not an agent just purchased through them. On a trip which out, there was no hard sell, the were not with you 24/7. You were left to your own devices to make decisions. Quality of build found to be very good. They are in business 40 years. Apartments fully furnished when you buy. You will pay a bit more but you are dealing direct with the builder no agents etc. Anyway might this bit of positive news may not suit everyone’s ears but so far so good.


  • #58796
    Profile photo of Anonymous

    Latest from Jan

    After receiving an invitation in the post, we decided to pay a visit incognito to a well known English based overseas property selling agency to see exactly what they had to offer and advise this time. We had already allowed ourselves to be coerced into an all expenses paid visit to Spain earlier this year to ascertain exactly how they operate.

    Their rep. stated once again that they were the largest property sales company in Europe who had won several awards of late. He advised us that he had over thirty years knowledge of Spain, having secured numerous investment properties himself on the costas during that time. (We had previously heard all this before earlier this year when on another visit to one of their exhibitions. Do they all have the same script we ask)?!

    He indicated that his company had sent over 17,000 Brits to Spain last year and of those, 40% had purchased on their first visit and 80% on their second. He assured us that, as the leading property sales company in Europe, their representatives in the various locations never pressurized their customers in any way, but were accompanied on a one to one basis to find their dream
    property. (From experience we can vouch that they do pressurise each client as they never leave you, from breakfast to the time you can excuse yourself to retire to bed). They also don’t allow you to obtain local newspapers in case you read anything that would adversely influence you.

    We have actually visited Almeria several times this year and so it came as somewhat of a shock to us to discover the following information provided by him:-

    We told him that friends of ours had recently visited and recommended a place called Albox which was approx. 30mins from the eastern coast of Almeria (or Almera as he pronounced it. Believe he was thinking of the car known by that name in the uk). I advised that we had heard of new developments in that area and had also seen details on the Internet. He looked totally bemused with this information and chose to ignore all my references to Albox and acted as though he had never heard of the place! (Remember this is a man that knows Almeria province intimately)!

    He then went on to inform us that the roads inland in this area were so
    poor that you would need a four wheel drive vehicle (which he insisted all estate agents inland would have to possess), in order to view properties which may be
    several kilometers down dirt tracks. He also advised that some of these properties were so remote that you would need to be a recluse to even consider living there. I asked him whether there were any resale fincas or cortijos on their books as I and noticed that they were advertising resale properties in Costa Calida and Costa Blanca in their literature. He informed us that the properties he had to offer were rather expensive and we agreed as unbeknown to him we had viewed similar properties at first hand and they had been nowhere near the prices he was quoting.

    On further questioning, he insisted there were no new builds further up the Almanzora Valley other than properties situated around the Almanzora Country Club, which he could vouch for, but had never seen. Unfortunately again for him, we have seen them and if you wish to live on a very small plot in an equally small chalet or apartment, in a holiday camp environment resembling something that perhaps might have been inhabited by the fictional “Noddy and Bigears characters” – this is the Ideal place for you! At the beginning of the year we were escorted to this site and shown two properties. There was not enough room to swing a mouse, much more a cat in either property and certainly no room in the back garden to construct other than a splash pool. Be assured you will be reliably informed that you are within 10 mins walking distance to Almanzora town and a few minutes more will take you to the coast. Believe me, on a very hot day you would do well to walk to the end of the dirt track road, much more the town or coast.

    On first appearance properties that you would consider to be detached due to their size are actually semi-detached and within feet of the road. You are only allowed to view a plan of potential new builds and a few show houses but are expected to sign a contract there and then to purchase before leaving the site. You are also asked for a non returnable deposit of 3,000 Euros followed by 60% of the total build cost in approx two and a half months. You are asked to make another staged payment during the term of the build. Bye the way, the build time is usually eighteen months, so you are obviously paying a large amount of interest during that time before you can actually live in, or simply enjoy the benefits of your property for vacation purposes.

    When the whole site is completed is obviously going to be an extremely large development, with community swimming pools, restaurants and shops, probably better suited to the older resident. Their brochure states that there are stunning views, but we believe that after the bulldozers are laid to rest, there will be so many properties on this site, that they will block each others views unless you have a penthouse apartment. This is only our assessment however and those
    interested in such a development should visit the site to make their own judgment!

    To make matters worse, we have heard rumours that this development is illegal and this obviously need further investigation Mark.

    He suggested that if we insisted in living inland, we should consider Cordobra as there was nothing to offer other than Granada, which we would dislike as it was a commercial city with no suitable properties to purchase there. (He omitted to inform us however, that properties in this area were more affordable and suggested an apartment in Vera on the coast, where he assured us it was more civilized)!

    The representative also advised that there were a total lack of amenities inland which us Brits would obviously not appreciate and suggested that the only place to live was within 10 mins of the coast. We implied that we did not want to live in a place such as Torrevieja to which he agreed and suggested that we consider the Orange Blossom coast Valencia, or Los Gallardas which is situated just off the coast near Vera but quite close to the proposed new motorway.

    When questioned about the proposed new motorway which we know is planned to run in a southerly direction passed Vera from Cartagena, he said that of course he knew of it but spoke of it in the present tense as if it already
    existed and inferred that we were idiots!

    He emphasized that the authorities in the Almeria area have strict controls over the building infrastructure, to which we commented that we were aware of a proposed single development of 5,000 apartments in the area of Vera. As he was obviously unaware that we knew this area, he stated that we would not be able to visualize the total size of the land involved and therefore the size of the development should not alarm us as this was just a “drop in the ocean” compared with the total magnitude of the area involved. He suggested that if we insisted in living inland, we should consider Cordobra as there was nothing to offer other than Granada, which we would dislike as it was a commercial city with no suitable properties to purchase there. (He omitted to inform us however, that properties in this area were more affordable and suggested an apartment in Vera on the coast, where he assured us it was more civilized)!

    I would like to add that we spent at least fifty minutes with this rep. who did not at any time ask us whether we had actually visited the area, much more what our knowledge of Spain was. We have bumped into these reps before who seem to try to control the interview from the start by making the client feel subservient to them, due to what they hope is the clients lack of knowledge of the country.

    We feel that as a representative of a large organization their approach should be less pompous towards a prospective client who is really made to feel rather inadequate. You are asked to give your full details in order that a follow up from the rep is made. Once again, we have experienced this technic which obviously must place some people, (specially those more elderly who are contemplating
    retiring abroad) in a rather vulnerable position.

    We hope this information will assist those considering taking the easy option of viewing properties abroad with a high profile company, especially in Spain. If you are confident enough to drive abroad (and it is really not that difficult to adjust) why not arrange your own itinerary? Flights nowadays are very inexpensive and may include travel insurance at little extra cost, especially when arranged via the Internet and Spanish car hire companies are also very reasonable.

    Kind Regards Mark, we both help this informatiion will be of assistance to those who may be contemplating moving to Spain especially for those contemplating their retiremnent and perhaps never having visited the country before may be relying on a professional concern to guide them.

    (sent in by email)

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