Buyer Beware?!

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    • #194021

      My husband and I signed a contract in May 2016 for an off-plan property from one of Spain’s oldest and most reputable builders, planning a dream move to Mallorca from Canada under the Golden Visa program.

      At the time we signed the reservation contract in April, the villa was nearly completed and was to be handed over to us in July. We added an optional pool and paid a 50% deposit on it when we signed the deposit contract in May.

      At that time we agreed to provide the builder with an extension to mid October to complete the pool because they could not do any excavation until early September and during high season for tourists.

      A few days before the scheduled closing of the deal, they said the pool was nearly complete and for us to have the funds ready in our Spanish bank account. We complied and took a heavy loss on currency conversion as the $CDN to Euro was at its lowest point.

      As it turned out the builder was unable to complete the sale because they had not obtained the completion certificate for the pool – at least that’s what we were told. They said it would take up to 2 months to get this done.

      We are now in mid December and it has come to light that the builder did not even apply for a permit to build the pool! And to the best of our knowledge has not done so since mid October.

      That’s all beside the fact that they have been trying to trick and coerce us into completing the sale with an “illegal” pool on the property so that all of the potential fines and penalties and possibly remedial work to return the property to its former state becomes our problem.

      Needless to say, we have refused to close against the advice of our lawyer who was also pushing us to close. There seems to be no set date or end in sight for this situation to be resolved.

      Needless to say, we are completely lost… our lives are up in the air… I quit my job in July to get ready for the move in October. I can not go back to work and we can not even apply for our Golden Visa because there’s no firm date, after having met all the requirements and submitting some of the documents to our solicitor twice for the July and October dates.

      Frankly, we are shocked and very disappointed that after all the efforts of the Spanish and Balearics governments to weed out illegal constructions, even one of Spain’s oldest and supposedly most reputable builders is still doing this.

      But what’s even worse is that we don’t know if there is any recourse or legal procedures to deal with this. Our lawyer is still dealing with the client relations department of this builder and being nice and accommodating is not what this situation requires!

      On that note, we need some help and advice on what we should do. Even knowing if there are others like us out there or if this is an isolated situation and an honest mistake would help.

      Not knowing what’s going on and what’s going to happen has been very stressful to me and my husband. He is basically suffering from insomnia at this point and I had my first ever panic attack a couple of days ago and cried all day. We’re both in our 40’s!

      If you’re out there and you can help or you know someone who can, please reach out to us.

      Thank you in advance,

    • #194022
      Mark Stücklin


      I’m sorry to hear all that.

      I know it’s alarming but it might not be as bad as you think. In the worst case I imagine you can sue for damages and compensation, though I know going down that road is time and money and angst. But in my experience the Spanish justice system works (in most cases), just very slowly.

      You might need a new lawyer. Have you thought of that?

      Please send me by private message the name of the developer, agent, and lawyer. I’d be interested to see if I’ve heard of them.


    • #194136

      Dear Samantha,

      My Wife and I read your letter with even more disgust for the Spanish. All that what has happened to you also happened to my wife and I back in 2002 in Malaga province. As the story is long and involved four solicitors companies, two of them being very large internationally known organisations who knew that we had no chance of winning but were only two pleased to take a further £20.000 pounds leading us down an even longer path of deception. It was only when a very good friend introduced us to a really honest Spanish solicitor who lost his job in the UK when the banking crisis started. He returned to Spain and opened  an office in Marbella accepting payment on results as work was not available.He was able to trace our property from the information in the land registry and the tax office and proved that the  developerland registry officials, Notary Town Mayor and our own Spanish internationally known Solicitor ( Who’s London office was a post office collection box) were all involved in the deception of selling us a house on land that should not have been built on. The building permission  being for a garden shed and as it turned out when we wanted to sell the property the pool had never had building permission. We spent a fortune legalising  and  sold the property back in 2014 , same crooked solicitor acting for the purchaser. He did not ever think twice about acting for the new owner even though he knew me and the history very well. Don’t trust your existing solicitor, when you get a new solicitor ask him  about the College of Abragadoes who are the regulating body for solicitors, better still if you can cancel the contract and walk away I would advise you to do so. Our loss’s  exceeded 5o,000 pounds in the end. The town hall will tell you your house is illegal , but the local government will still take your land tax’s and the town hall will take your local tax’s until the day the bulldozers turn up to demolish your house under the direction of the provincial government, who may then send you a bill for demolition. We have a number of friends who have suffered in the same way and unfortunately these situations are still going on.  We have little time for the Spanish in these matters.

      Kind regards and best wish’s.



    • #194165

      Dear Samantha,

      Thank you for your email regarding the above article, unfortunately the solicitor that helped me has now quit the legal profession completely. The last I heard of him through the friend who recommended him to me, is that he is now running a successful very well known restaurant in Marbella. My friend who knows him on a personal basis told me in confidence, that this solicitor had made the statement that its almost impossible to make a living in Spain as an honest solicitor.

      The problems in Spain are deep rooted and it appears that at every stage of a purchase, somebody wants their cut. Unfortunately corruption is rife in Spain ,after our episode was finally sorted out after 12 years of anguish, one of our Spanish neighbours wished us well for the future and said tell your friends the bandits in Spain used to ride donkeys years ago, the only difference to day is they drive big cars.

      We have subsequently purchased in Portugal without any problem, the system for purchase although similar, has been simplified and made totally transparent . Everything is stated in black and white from day one, in Portuguese and  the language of the purchaser. The statement of all costs is detailed from the start, so there is no leeway for the underhanded dealings we had to endure in the past. However I would always now be cautious .

      My advice to you is to write to the College of Abogadoes in Malaga , telling them of your misfortune and asking them to recommend a solicitor who can help you. The construction company who built our house in Spain was reputed to be one of the oldest respectable companies in Spain, your story is so similar to ours right down to our own solicitor pushing us to pay up the builder, we later found out that our solicitor was acting for the builder with other clients. We fortunately did not pay up and held back £40,000 that we never paid and the builder could not make us pay.

      In our case it was no drinking water supply. It took a further five years before we finally managed to get a water supply. We like you had given up jobs, sold our house in the UK and lost money on exchange rates, so we fully sympathise with you.

      From what I know from our experience, it is more than likely they can not legalize the pool this in turn could impact in your villa and pool being declared illegal and so unsalable. If you can you need to cancel the contract and get a refund of your money on the grounds of their none performance if you can and start again.

      Don’t on any account pay over any more money. I do not mind you having my email so that you can ask me directly questions if you think I can be of help, by virtue of this statement I am giving Mark the ability to provide you with my email address.

      Kind regards


    • #194171

      2 sets of rules apply here, one for the Spanish and one for the “Tourist” even when the government have given permission the local major can over rule !! stop PAYING any  MORE MONEY  Sadly even FINDING an honest lawyer in Spain is nigh on impossible !!!  all  pis   ng in the same pot !! YOURS !!!!!  be very careful  sorry xxxxx

    • #194172

      Hi again I re read your post, so to add, forget suing in Spain (or Greece) !  put them on the back foot, and move in, change the locks, and make sure you pay local taxes , etc  make them come to you !!  possession is 9/10 of the law    Stephen xxxx

    • #194221

      My husband and I bought a house in Costa Tropical in 2013. Although it had two previous owners and was in a respected community, the pool was still unregistered. We hired an independent attorney to represent us in the entire transaction, even though the (seemingly reputable) brokerage company had lawyers on staff and said they handle the transactions for both parties in 99% of their sales.

      From what we understand, we hired a very reputable attorney and all of our interactions with him and his partner were professional and transparent. He got us everything we needed, including a registered, legal pool, before we signed the papers or paid more money than a deposit into an escrow account.  After our closing, the broker told us confidentially that the attorney had been a bit of a pain in the rear, but to me that means he was doing his job representing us and only us.

      Based on our experience, we would recommend them without hesitation. We worked with two of the partners, both of whom speak fluent English and explained everything clearly in non-legalese. Because of forum rules, I am not allowed to publish their name or contact information here, but I would be happy to provide it to anyone who would like it via private message.  Good luck!

      • #194233
        Mark Stücklin


        Would you mind sending me a PM with the name of your lawyers? I’m always on the lookout for good professionals.


    • #194234

      Oh I am really sorry to hear that. I am in a very difficult situation in the UK regarding a property purchase which has been going on for over 6 months, with no sign of leases or proper paperwork, and although I haven’t lost too(!) much money, I too have terrible insomnia and cannot stop worrying/being angry/ depressed. My wake up time is 4 am, where I invariably have to take one kind of herbal sleeping pill or start work! I really sympathise. My estate agent and vendor have been very dishonest, full of broken promises. I was planning to move to Spain last October and I am still here, in a dreadful noisy flat, just trying to keep it together until it works out. Anyway you are not alone, even if our situations are a bit different! note Just so you don’t think I am just impatient I am a cash buyer, no chain, promised a 3 month close.
      Best wishes, \Deborah

      • This reply was modified 7 years, 5 months ago by debaura.
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