Reasons not to buy a property in Spain? Quite a few come to mind, and someone needs to write about them, so I’ll make a start here

MARCH 2020 UPDATE: Let me make clear from the outset, this article is not going to list the arguments I can think of for not buying a property in Spain. That would be a very long article. The goal of this article is simply to introduce the idea that there are a number of good arguments and reasons for not buying in Spain, depending on individual circumstances, which one rarely hears anyone making, because it’s in nobody’s interests to do so.

So, to redress the balance a bit, I plan to write a series of articles about the arguments and reasons I can think of for not buying a property in Spain,  but this article is just a kick-off article introducing the series, not my long list of reasons not to buy. Is that clear? I’ve seen some very stroppy comments from people complaining that I have not listed all the reasons in this article.

Now, on with the article…..

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. Are they? I don’t know. Maybe I should put this entire series of articles behind a paywall and see what happens.

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. Will anyone pay to read these articles? Maybe. We’ll see.

So, to recap, there are quite a few reasons and arguments against buying property in Spain, but nobody has any incentive to publicise them, whilst an entire industry has a big incentive to publicise the arguments in favour of buying, and even belittle or distort the arguments against. If you are thinking of buying, you are only going to hear one side of the story. Until now, that is.

I will write a series of articles on the different reasons and arguments I can think of against buying a property in Spain. Why not lump them all together in one article? I think it would be way too long, and some of the reasons I can think of need an article of their own to explain them properly. You can see the articles I have already done below or read them here: Reasons not to buying property in Spain

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 balanced 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.

SPI Member Comments

Thoughts on “Reasons not to buy a property in Spain? Quite a few come to mind, and someone needs to write about them, so I’ll make a start here

  • 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

  • Barbara Wood - Property Finder says:

    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.

    • Filignano60 says:

      Unfortunately I was a statistic of buying in Spain, not a successful story at the beginning however turned out with happy times and nice family memories. I think the photo with the house and retaining wall was the actual plot and development where the disaster was. Cowboy development company in conjunction with a German lady who was acting as agent. Pleased to say they are know longer in business.

      • SurveySpain says:

        The property was near Lake Viñuela and the photo taken more than 10 years ago. Retaining wall with no foundations and uncut boulders on clay soil, meant the wall collapsed with heavy rain. Last time I passed the place, there was a good concrete retaining wall. Whilst we didn’t survey that house, there were a number there poorly built and without proper permissions. As well as the builder, the architect and arquitecto técnico who signed it off, plus maybe the lawyers, should all have been censured.

  • SurveySpain says:

    I agree with Barbara. Buyers have to protect themselves. Get independent advice from somebody who isn’t dependent upon the sale. Survey Spain get paid for the work we do, but our advice saves clients many times more than the cost.

  • I’ve owned in Spain for 13 years and have only used my property on very limited occasions in lovely location . I’ve now been offered €100000 lower or 60% of the purchase price 13 years ago. I’m selling at this price as it’s been a complete burden and cannot see there being a recovery in the market for the foreseeable future.. Never again.

  • Horror story for my family trying to evict a tenant which has taken nearly 3 years. The tenant gets ‘free legal aid ‘ , they can fabricate evidence without the courts even checking their integrity , can appeal and raise petitions against judgements , can appeal against the judgement of the first appeal, can appeal against the judgement of the 2nd appeal , etc etc . While they are doing this they can dismiss their lawyers many times (our tenant dismissed 5 lawyers) to stop court proceedings until a new free lawyer is hired. Our tenant even tried to appeal to the Supreme Court Of Spain but failed . Then they can raise a petition of vulnerability convincing Social Services that they are ill or handicapped , etc (that will also delay eviction). Finally , when every legal trick in the book is used (and laughably allowed by the Spanish Court system) , their SCNE offices can take several months to process an eviction date . But that isn’t the end because there are a plethora of methods a tenant could use to suspend an eviction on the day. They could ‘plant’ or pay a mother and her child to be in the premises on eviction day claiming they were given a verbal agreement by the owner to stay in the flat (the court officials in our case experienced this scenario and decided not to evict them). The tenant might ‘plant’ another tenant with falsified tenant lease agreement which will also suspend the eviction. If you have a street entrance door that leads to the stairwells into the block and keep it locked on eviction day , they will have to suspend the eviction. Actually there are a countless ways for them to prevent the eviction happening on the day. Obviously , it would be better if the courts ordered the tenant to just leave or be arrested but no, they need the landlords to follow the process and pay thousands of euros in court costs , procurador costs ( 3.6k) and solicitor costs (4k) . Then when the courts checked on our tenants assets and bank accounts (to pay our court/solicitor costs) they found he had zero amounts because he was savvy enough to hide any savings/assets elsewhere. We ended up paying 8k in court/solicitor costs while also losing 18k in lost rent. We’ve only just seen the inside of our property after many years and its been left to deteriorate badly . We suspect that the tenant had fraudulently registered our flat for rent on some ‘State’ owned website and had been subletting our flat to people who needed temporary accommodation . The flat is in a dire state , our kitchen units have been ripped out , the bathroom kitchen and electrics fallen into state of disrepair. Our experience is rife and there are many other horrific stories out there , so think twice before you risk your money and sanity trying to get justice in Spain (it is basically anti-landlord so invest your hard-earned money elsewhere).

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