4 Oct, 2016 @ 10:57
2 mins read

Has anything been learnt in the property game over the last 13 years?

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Columnist Campbell Ferguson

campbell_fergusonSEPTEMBER 18 saw the 13th anniversary of the Survey Spain website www.surveyspain.com, which we take as the founding date of the business.

Much has happened since 2003.

Looking through the old articles I’ve written over the years for newspapers and magazines, plus their transfer to website articles and then blogs, Facebook, Twitter and all, I’m struck by how little appears to have been learnt.

Article headings tell it all – ‘Why didn’t they get the property Surveyed?’, is a constant theme as so often we come across stories of ‘disasters’ that could have been avoided.

To rush forward to spend tens or hundreds of thousands and even millions, based on the word of somebody who is only being paid, and reluctantly at that, if the deal goes through, must be the height of naivety. Often it’s expressed as buying ‘in good faith’, but there are more blunt ways of expressing it too. An article I commented upon started with, ‘We spend about the same time choosing shoes or buying a suit as deciding which house to buy’.

In a speech to a Real Estate conference in Almería in 2004, I noted that there was a reduced number of buyers, but the house building market was still progressing strongly.

I was complaining about the increasing spoiling of the natural Andalucía that brought many of the residents and tourist here in the first place.

“It must be intelligent development, meeting what occupiers want and not just immediate profit”. What prescience that was! Now still we see new builds and reports of so many 1,000s of properties being sold.

However, the only sales that really count are the ones to eventual individual occupiers. Sales of 1,000’s of investment properties from a bankrupt bank to a cash rich fund just don’t count as they are still individually on the market. Remove all of those and many ‘buy-to-let’s’ and that gives us the real market figure.

Back on the individual properties and we see the same defects again and again, principally relating to – rain! Yes, damp is the main defect we find. Fortunately, with little wood in the structure, except in older buildings, there isn’t much rot associated with it.

However, why don’t the architects build for the 8 months of temperate climate when it rains, is cold and even snows in places, rather than just for the 4 months of summer? Too rooted in mimicking Arab styles perhaps, originally designed for truly dry climates.

Drain the water away from the structure with proper field drains, plus guttering and downpipes connected to these drains, and so much mould, crumbling plaster, coughs, colds and sneezes could be avoided.

But then what would Survey Spain do if all that was perfect? Maybe we should just be thankful that it’s not and carry on advising and helping clients avoid problems or at least know what they are taking on.

When it comes down to it, it’s so much easier than watching others repent on their mistakes.

Campbell Ferguson (OP Columnist)

Campbell Ferguson, FRICS, working from Estepona since 2001 plus three years in Madrid, is at the heart of the Survey Spain Network, which links 15 RICS qualified chartered surveyors located all round Spain and the Canary and Balearic Islands. Tel: 34 952 923 520 Fax: 34 951 239 216 Email: info@surveyspain.com From UK Direct: 0870 800 3520

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