Reasons not to buy a property in Spain

reasons not to buy property in spain

Dreams collapse. Photo credit Survey Spain

I can think of some good reasons not to buy a home in Spain, and I know of many people who rue the day they ever bought a Spanish property. But whilst you’re bombarded from many quarters with a narrative urging you to buy, you rarely, if ever, hear the arguments against buying in Spain, or from the people who regret having purchased. 

There is a billion-Euro industry behind a marketing effort to get you to dream of owning a home in Spain, and turn those dreams into reality. Thousands of estate agents, developers, property portals, PR professionals, and others in the industry are all beavering away trying to reach you with a message convincing you to buy. It is, after all, their job. You will hear about the rational and emotional benefits of buying a property in Spain, and in a subtle way you are made to feel that a home in Spain is a status symbol, a sign that you have succeeded in life.

Should you buy a property in Spain? It depends on your individual circumstances. There are always arguments for and against, but you only ever hear the arguments in favour of buying, because nobody has any incentive to spend time and money presenting the arguments against.

People in the business can make big money from property sales, but nobody makes any money from convincing people not to buy. So there’s a big incentive to spend oodles of money advertising in the press, on Facebook, Google, Twitter, Instagram, Youtube, PR, et all, bigging up the idea of buying property in Spain, but who is going to pay anything to publicise the reasons against buying? There’s no money in it, unless dreamers are prepared to pay to hear the other side of the story.

It’s not just the industry that talks up buying, and ignores the reasons not to buy. Even the media and journalists have a bias towards the buying narrative, as nobody will pay for press trips or adverts against buying. Occasionally you might read a horror story article about someone who had a nightmare buying in Spain, but that’s about as far as it goes.

I bet there are thousands of people alive today who rue they day they bought a property in Spain. Over the years I’ve heard so many sob stories I’ve lost count. But on the whole, the sob stories don’t get much attention, as once again, nobody has an incentive to publicise them.

Do I have an incentive to dwell on the reasons not to buy? Not really, unless people are prepared to pay for good advice that could save them a great deal of money and stress. I’m planning to set up a voluntary contribution price for these articles and see if anyone values them with cold hard cash. But even if they don’t I’m still going to write these articles looking at the arguments against buying in Spain as I guess it might help someone.

Buying a property in Spain is right for some, but not for others, and in my experience too many people make their decision to purchase based on dreams and wishful thinking, and live to regret it. I’m not saying that nobody should buy, just that everybody should hear the arguments for and against before they make their decision. I’m sure good property professionals would agree with with me, as they want to deal with serious clients for whom it makes sense to buy, not dreamers who can be hustled into a purchase they live to regret.

The first argument against buying property in Spain that I will tackle in an article soon to come is the lack of market transparency, which makes it difficult to understand house prices, and increases the risks of investing in Spain. I’ve got a list of other reasons to tackle in subsequent articles, but feel free to send me reasons you can think of, or leave them in the comments below.

About Mark Stücklin

Mark Stücklin is a Barcelona-based Spanish property market analyst, and author of the 'Spanish Property Doctor' column in the Sunday Times (2005 - 2008).

2 thoughts on “Reasons not to buy a property in Spain”

  1. Hugh

    I live between Madrid and Toledo Very much regret buying property in Spain. First the taxes. even your pension will be taxed over and above what you may pay in UK. As personal allowance in only in the region of 6000 Euros. You need permission to do anything to your property and have to pay for the privilege. Examples are moving earth from one place to another on your own property. Putting up a fence around property. Painting the exterior of property anything and you cannot claim any money back on taxes when you sell. Taxes on the property when you do sell. You need permission for everything in Spain. The Spanish are very good at taking money from you with a smile. Vehicles on second hand market are a nightmare and I am very mechanically minded. Trust no one. I live in a very rural and have security system but have been robbed twice from surrounding grounds not house. Mostly opportunist theft. Now have a property in Portugal. So my advise is forget Spain Portugal is a far better bet. Good things about Spain, great road system. With very little traffic. Paid for by EU funds. Could go on and on but will close now on subject

  2. Barbara Wood - Property Finder

    You say it yourself Mark: – “Not really, unless people are prepared to pay for good advice that could save them a great deal of money and stress.: – That’s precisely why I founded The Property Finders and over the last 16 years that’s what we’ve been doing, giving balanced, impartial advice to buyers and in many cases telling them not to buy something rather than talking it up. There are some very good agents (I was one myself and Fred Van Kirmpen, who commented earlier is another) and I will happily work with the few I trust,. Of course, as property finders working for the buyer we can also access properties that are privately for sale and have many clients who bought a property that they would never have seen if they only used estate agents. But the reality is that few people take the time and trouble to do the due diligence required to buy in what for most is a foreign country and they are way out of their comfort zone. Over many years in the business I have never come across a problem that would not have been avoided if the proper research had been done.

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