THE cranes have again started sprouting and moving on the Costas.
Land buyers are active and, in the best locations, construction has already started.
With all the activity resuming, these ten points are important for off-plan buyers to consider before purchasing a property.
- Hire a competent, conscientious lawyer who is fluent in your language and who has no family/client connection to the developer.
- Never sign anything without getting your lawyer to check all the details first.
- Don’t sign if you have to complete before the First Occupation Licence is granted.
- Visit developments previously completed by the developer and speak with the residents and the president of the urbanisation community. What sort of problems have they had and how effectively did the developer respond?
- Does the development already have a building licence from the town hall? Without that, any money you put forward is a gamble. The Bank Guarantee Law only covers monies put forward after the licence is granted, so make sure your lawyer advises you accordingly. An outline is available here.
- Is this property for you to use or rent out? Whichever, make sure that it complies with the regulations that most authorities have already drawn up to control private property rentals.
- Beware: in the last property boom, many buyers came to grief speculating by buying a number of apartments off-plan with the intention of selling all except one as the price rose nearing completion. This was encouraged by the ability to avoid the property transfer tax if the right to buy was sold before the purchase was notarised.
7.1. Make sure that the contract permits you to do so; many building promoters do not appreciate having to sell their properties in competition with previous buyers.
7.2. Also, what happens if there is another financial crash or any of a 1,000 things that could happen in the world or to you before the prices have risen to make it worthwhile selling? Can you pay the full price for them all and will you want to if prices have fallen? How many buyers are thinking the same?
- The Spanish courts have decreed that marketing documents, websites, etc, are part of the formal description of the property being sold to you. Check them against the detailed specification attached to the purchase contract. General statements of ‘to the highest quality’ really have very little descriptive or legal power.
- The decennial 10 year structural guarantee is just that. It only covers the structure, being foundations, pillars, floor plates and roof. It is nowhere near as comprehensive as the UK NHBC. It starts when the architect signs off the building construction as completed and not the date of the first occupation licence.
- When you do actually buy, make sure you have the properties ‘snagged’ by an experienced surveyor who will know exactly the types of problems and flaws to look for and knows what you should be getting. The promoter will say that they have snagged the property, but their view will be less demanding than yours should be. After all, this will be your new home – so why not make sure every little thing is perfect?