mayors,lawyers,illegal builds,REAs,notarys,judges…..

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This topic contains 23 replies, has 14 voices, and was last updated by  Anonymous 10 years, 9 months ago.

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  • #54192


    I thought this from the letter section of todays Costa Almeria News was worth a read:

    July 13, 2008

    The prospect of buying in Spain and losing everything

    I read with interest Richard Torné’s article about the debacle that is El Fas. Some good friends bought a house there one year ago in 2007, two years after the mayor claimed he became aware that the properties were illegal. Why were these houses allowed to be constructed and then sold? The mayor claims he did not have policemen available, does he not realise how stupid this statement makes him look, a housing estate does not materialise over night. Soon after my friends moved to El Fas we visited them and were invited to a party thrown by Pedro Llamas Garcia at the house of Karim Smit and Daniel Poetsema. It was coming up to the elections and Sr. Llamas wanted to get all the Brit votes on board. After cooking a wonderful paella, handing out pens, lighters and hats, through his interpreter, Daniel Poetsema, the mayor assured everybody that their homes would be legalised. A hollow promise.

    My friends unfortunately bought the house through Southern Spain Consultants and against advice used the lawyers recommended by them. The lawyers stated that they would not let my friend buy an illegal house. In a little community like Cantoria everybody must have known that these properties were illegal, the estate agent, the developer, the builder (all of whom appear to be interchangeable), the lawyers, the notary and the mayor. Where does this leave my friends? The criminal case may take a year or two to come to court, only then can my friends commence a civil case to claim compensation from the developers should their home be demolished. This case may take four or five years to be heard the way the legal system in Spain works. My friends, like a lot of expats and indeed other Northern Europeans, have sunk virtually everything they own to relocate here, demolish their home and they are left with nothing or at the very least a slim chance of getting some compensation in six or seven years. What are they supposed to do in the meantime?

    The point is that we are all advised when we start the purchasing process here in Spain to get an independent lawyer. Surely, if a lawyer has any interest in the sale of the property, it is a conflict of interest, and it should be declared to the purchaser, so they can decide whether to employ him or not. If that declaration is not made in writing and things go wrong then the governing body should strike off that lawyer and force him to pay full compensation to the client.

    Socialist party (PSOE) councillor in Cantoria, Manuel Pedrosa criticised expats for „allowing themselves to be hoodwinked by Mr Poetsema“. When you go to a lawyer you expect that lawyer to protect your interests against unscrupulous developers, builders and estate agents, if he does not then, what has been the point of employing him? Sr. Pedrosa went on to say „everyone knew what he (Mr Poetsema) was claiming to be“. If that was the case how come the lawyers, notary, estate agent and mayor claimed they didn’t know or act on this knowledge. If you are fresh out from the UK looking to buy a house, and you don’t speak much Spanish, where can you go to protect yourself and ask relevant questions other than your lawyer – the local bars? I don’t think so!
    Spain and particularly the regional governments have benefited to the tune of many billions of euros from the influx of northern Europeans. When people put themselves in the hands of ‘professionals’ to ensure their smooth transition into Spain and it all goes wrong then the authorities should not – must not – turn their backs on the people they welcomed with open arms. The systems in Spain are woefully lacking for the individual when corporate corruption takes place. I believe it is the case in Spain that even if an individual has employed a lawyer, that individual is still considered, by the judges, responsible for the consequences. The judiciary should be made to realise that by paying a lawyer thousands of euros then that responsibility passes to the lawyer who ‘knows the law’.

    The world’s current financial woes will not last forever and one day people will again start buying abroad, unless Spain puts its house in order, and soon, it will be other countries those purchasers will look to. The prospect of buying in Spain and losing everything will stay in peoples’ minds.

    Peter J Brown

  • #85336


    Firstly well done to the newspaper concerned for publishing the letter,quite rare that a letter condeming property purchase is published here on the costas The local media hates to remove ex pats´rose coloured spectacles.

    A very good letter, the only thing I disagree with is the last paragraph, people will not remember the bad old days once the boom times come again and they will.

    All the fast talkers driving around in big cars will be here again in force telling the same lies, coming out with the same claptrap. That is why this forum is so important,most people need protection from themselves and from for want of a word, spivs. A fast talking ex double glazing,second hand car, Spanish property salesman will soon convince them the streets of Spain are made of gold. All the old cliches will be dusted off and brought out over a wine filled lunch or dinner.

    In the letter , we see again the arrogance of the Spanish people, never ready to admit THEY are wrong ,it is always someone else. The Daily Telegraph for saying nasty things about the Spanish banking system. The media in general for blowing out of all proportion the corruption in Spain and the slowness of the legal system. Northern Europeans are to blame for buying property from crooks and swindlers even though they employed a lawyer. Even though the town hall approved the building. Lewis Hamilton as someone else said is to blame for Alonso no longer world champion in FI. If Nadal loses at Wimbledon next year,it will be the fault of the groundsman as he cut the grass too long or too short.

    If only Spain would put it´s house in order, but it never will.

  • #85338


    @135yearswaiting wrote:

    A very good letter, the only thing I disagree with is the last paragraph, people will not remember the bad old days once the boom times come again and they will.

    I hope you are wrong but I’m afraid to admit that you are right. It was horrible to see people who were just so money orientated pretending that they had embraced the Spanish culture whilst unable to speak a word of the language and then chat with a young Spanish couple who were saving so hard to get a deposit. The young couple could not believe that property would ever fall in price because some people had been warning of that for 5 years and it never happens. 5 years to them is an age. I don’t know them now, my fear is that they bought at the worst possible time in anyone’s lifetime.

    What an amazing email though, spot on.

  • #85356


    Unfortunately, people dont want to hear the negative experiences of buying in Spain and it is happening as I type.

    I am a member of various forums and there are plenty of people still willing to take the plunge of buying in the Almanzora Valley, of which Cantoria is a part, despite being given good and sound advice from people who have been through the experience and in a lot of cases rueing the day they bought in Spain.

    People just dont want to believe that it could happen to them and they think that they are aware of all the scams.

    In addition, the Spanish culturally do not seem to be able to take responsibility for the moral deficiencies of their compatriots in this whole illegal building mess. It’s easier to blame the buyers – especially if they are foreign.

    A lot of the houses bought in good faith and found to be illegal subsequently should not even have got to the building stage but were allowed to by town halls and guardia turning a blind eye. The developers were then free to dupe the buyers – even with the help of ignorant English people. How is that the buyers’ faults? Especially when notaries, bank managers, town officials and local lawyers have all been complicit in the deception.

    The local view is, the Brits are loaded and can afford it! Well, this misconception has brought financial heartache to many – of which I am one. 🙁

  • #85358


    In addition, the Spanish culturally do not seem to be able to take responsibility for the moral deficiencies of their compatriots in this whole illegal building mess. It’s easier to blame the buyers – especially if they are foreign.

    Sooooooo true. Well written Fran.

  • #85403


    Unfortunately Spain just cannot address the property nightmares so often mentioned, maybe because it is happy with corruption that has earned it billions in property taxes etc.

    Too often it’s the buyers being accused of greed or ineptness when most of the time those who deal in property have blatantly lied (and still do).

    The Court procedures are not worth the time 5-7 years and need speeding up with prosecutions.

    The Spanish Gov’t appear to dismiss criticism, they don’t comment, they just let things roll on as always.

    Within a year or so when they realise the economy is bankrupt and in recession, they may just try and put things right by which time it is probably too late, after all, who is going to buy the 2 million unsold properties, and price rises will be a thing of the past.

    Investing in Spain is a recipe for financial loss, sooooooooo many distressed properties for sale now as well as the unsold new builds.

  • #85406


    well, what a sensible thread. All true, and nothing to add. Just like to say how refreshing it is for so many people to get behind those of us who have been screwed, by recognising the facts and not blaming the victims.

    This threads contributers would have been ridiculed not long ago for being to negative or ‘doom mongers’. At long last it seems most people are coming to terms with the real situation that some of us have been fighting for years.

    Good on you all. While it’s great also to hear from those who have had a good experience, i believe threads like this are such a good warning, and could save much misery.

  • #85409



    Whilst I agree with most of what you said I do disagree with you when you say there is nothing to add.

    Yes, the builders/developers/lawyers/mayors are Spanish, however the estate agents are, on the whole, British. All the companies running exhibitions in the UK have British staff, Parador & Atlas are UK companies. There are just as many Brits ripping off UK buyers as there are Spanish.

  • #85410


    …only because the Spanish system is so open to rip-offs.
    I think that Northern Europeans expect a higher standard of honesty in Spain than they would, say, in Mauretania. Evidently, they need to be more on their guard.
    It’s also true, of course, that many hundreds of thousands of Northern Europeans have bought houses here without problem.

  • #85411


    It is because a lot of Brits dont understand Spanish property law, but still think it is easy to sell property in Spain.

    Yes, there are probably those that do it deliberately but many do it through ignorance.

    For example, English friends of ours introduced us to a Spanish couple who were selling off parcelas of land with houses already built.

    The draw for them, we can only assume, was the well worn phrase: un poco dinero para mi, un poco dinero para ti! In other words, if the Brits do the Spanish developer a favour (being friends) then they could expect a cut of the commission for their troubles.

    Being friends, the Brits trust the Spanish to know Spanish property law and not to lie to them about legality. The Brits ignorance, ie that just an escritura is sufficient to guarantee legality and their own preconceptions that property law and selling in Spain is similar to that in the UK, just compounds the problem. They dont understand about land classification, the process for getting building permissions and licenses, PGOU’s etc.

    They just assume that because the house has been built, all that kind of thing has been sorted. They wouldn’t conceive of a house being allowed to be built without all of that in place first, as it would happen very rarely in the UK.

    As a result, we trusted our friends judgement of these people, used a lawyer that they (the Brits) used for their own personal affairs and got stung as a result. Their lawyer also knew the Spanish (small town where everyone networks with everyone else) and hey presto he drew up a contract in the sellers favour despite our requests for extra checks to make sure everything was legal.

    Our ex friends didn’t get the commission on our house purchase, at least not all of it, and left Spain in disillusionment shortly after we and others had bought.

    A salutory tale for any Brits who get in with small Spanish developers in order to sell properties to other Brits, as a favour and a commission!
    Plus a cautionary tale for buyers, dont necessarily trust someone selling a Spanish property just because they are British and know the Spanish developer/builder personally!

  • #85412


    Never trust Brits living in Spain. Some are genuine but most (unless they are retired) are living by their wits. They don’t mind who they con to maintain their life in the sun.

  • #85413


    at the risk of repeating myself (i know, to many times!!) we were screwed by UK agents, and a UK lawyer living in the UK. They were in cahoots with a Spanish lawyer and a Spanish developer in Spain.

    All low life con men, cheats, liars (whatever you wish to call them?). They prospered because of hopeless regulation in Spain that encourages these sort of people. I don’t think it matters where people are from, if they are inclined to be ‘wrong’, then of course they will take advantage where ever they they can get away with it.

  • #85416


    Never trust Brits living in Spain. Some are genuine but most….

    we were screwed by UK agents, and a UK lawyer living in the UK. They were in cahoots with a Spanish lawyer and a Spanish developer in Spain.

    Repeat your warnings as often as you want. Not only will they serve to warn any SPV’s, it goes to counteract the “there are tens of thousands of people who are happy with their purchase”…..less we ever forget. 🙄

    The name of the game is to become one of the happy ones, and not one of the “I’m caught up with an illegal build, my life and health is falling apart with the stress, and feel like putting a gun to my head”. Those that accuse us of keep banging the same old drum completely miss the point of why we do it.

    Good to have support from one of the ‘happy ones’ (Katy) who could easily be just be one of the smarty pants who call the likes of us stupid fools for getting caught.

    As for justice when one is caught up in the corruption, Root’s post on the ‘How do i convince the bank’ thread says it all. Francisco Javier de Urquía is not the only judge in Spain that should be in court on charges of accepting bribes and perversion of the course of justice.

    I feel there’s another “why this forum is becoming so devalued” type thread just around the corner by one of those who are ‘lurking’. What’s that opening line again? Oh yes…… “I’ve been watching this forum for many months now but this is my first post and I have to say……”

  • #85427

  • #85429


    “Lawyers specialising in real estate report a surge in the number of British buyers contacting them for advice after the developers they bought from have gone under”.

    Half-finished developments halted due to developers going under to add to the list of half-finished developements halted due to corrupt building licences.
    What a mess Spain’s construction industry is in.

    However, at least the lawyers who did well during the boom are now it seems doing well during the bust.

  • #85431


    Charlie, Yes, but would you trust the lawyers to represent & protect your interest ?????. If they as a representative of a professional body could not be trusted to act in your interest when buying, what makes any one think that they will do so in the current state of Fadesa-Martinsa or other developers.

    We, should remember that the Liquidators job is to recover assets for the distribution for the benefit of its creditors, specially the secured ones.

    Even if the lawyers makes any progress do you think the judges can be trusted ??? Its a hard fact of commercial life that you cannot do business in a country where the legal & political system does not work. People buying homes in Spain may think that they are just buying a home but it is a business. The buyers may not see it this way.

    It, would be interesting to see what happens as to the best of my knowledge group legal action cannot be taken out in Spain. Besides after realizing Fadesa-Martinsa the world wide assets, as and when in the next decade there will be nothing left for the property buyers who have paid their deposits.

    Vultures, are gathering e.g Addoha of Morocco. I would also like to know what is the legal position as most buyers have a private contract i.e. they have not been notarised. How do they stand if Fadesa-Martin SA, rescinds.

    It is such an Irony of life that Fadesa a small company building low quality units for the fishermen of Galicia moved to a higher league when they built in Guadelmina, Marbella. It should be said that this move was greatly helped by the UK/Irish buyers. The land in Guadelmina was bought by Fadesa after the fall/liquidation of KIO,( Kuwait investment office in the 90’s ) Very colorful personalities like de la Rosa where involved in it.

    The saying was goes round …………

  • #85433


    I wonder if they will use the same lawyers as the ones who told them to complete the purchase without any utilities! Many who have not completed do not have a bank guarantee either. (although according to recent court descisions the Judges don’t seem to think the guarantees are worth much).

  • #85438


    what Fadesa built in Guadalmina was not a “higher league” but the biggest eyesore tenement ever built in the Marbella area and the buildings are now slowly disintegrating in front of the helpless (and hapless) owners. Fadesa are the biggest chancers around!!

  • #85440


    UBEDA: I agree with your comments. Yes, they over built thanks to Jesus Gil. Edifio Larez was falling apart before they built the next block. Despite of it people kept on buying, so you cant fully blame Fadesa.

    When, I say higher league, of course its relative, for a company building very basic units for fishermen in Galicia who were only grateful that some one had built a unit so that they could have a roof over their head.

    For Fadesa being in Marbella, having marble floors, granite top, golf course, larger than average size apartment etc, was higher league.

    They went back to basic again in the case of Coata Esuri. realising that there are plenty of mugs around and as one unhappy buyer complain & new mugs where chasing their dreams only to be shattered by Fadesa.

    To, add to above Fadesa management, when moving into Marbella had the same attitude that we were doing you all a favour to the international buyers, instead of appreciating its new found market and dare I say a more sophisticated international buyers they carried on with their arrogance.

    Apart from the current credit issue, Fadesa had very poor management. A typical management style that a family business has all over the world. Their arrogance would not accept the change of customer profile. I hope that MBA students in Spain would use Fadesa as a project as to how to destroy a company that had reach such heights in 18 years or so. The growth of Fadesa was a classic case of over trading, helped by the low interest rate, black money before € entry. This all could have been managed if Fadesa has a good management team and commercial wisdom.

  • #85443


    According to a Reuters report I read recently, Martinsa Fadesa have a land bank in Spain of about 17 million square metres. More than 40 percent of of this land is not zoned, meaning it could have problems getting building authorisation, particularly as the government tightens development rules.

    It could now represent a big white elephant value-wise when assessing their assets.
    It makes you wonder why they thought it would be a good idea to buy it in the first place. 😉

  • #85444


    I suppose when the bought all the land they bought a stock of brown envelopes at the same time 😆

    I do believe when everthing is dealt with by the Administrators that the assets of Fadesa will be found to be worth very little, much less than their liabilities. I understand they have land in Bulgaria too…that should be worth a few quid (if they are lucky!)

  • #85452


    ” It makes you wonder why they thought it would be a good idea to buy it in the first place.”

    Charlie, Charlie, how long have you been on the forum ??? The value of the land has to be reduced by the brown envelope or as they say in UK the commission to be paid out against the value of the land.

  • #85460


    Hi Shakeel – the winky emoticon at the end of my question was a knowing wink…… 😆

    Now times have changed, I have this vision of all these stationers lumbered with huge stocks of now-unrequired brown envelopes clogging up their storerooms that they can’t get rid of.
    These times are hard for all indeed. 🙁

  • #85462


    Charlie: The future is bleak for them ( brown envelope ) as we cant even use them to write to each other due to Internet etc. Along with the death of the construction Industry, this is another Industry that has gone.

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