Would you like to own your own village? Spain has a few to spare.
They are the forgotten pueblos – once thriving rural communities, now devoid of life, their stone buildings crumbling, their cobbled streets silent.
It is estimated there are as many as 3,000 of these abandoned hamlets, scattered around Spain, most particularly in Galicia, Castilla y León, Aragón and Asturias.
The actress Gwyneth Paltrow shone the spotlight on such unusual investment opportunities when she recommended buying a deserted Galician village as a Christmas present on her website, Goop.
A Dutch couple took up her suggestion and are in the process of clinching the deal for around €150,000. That’s a bit below the average asking-price for these villages although some have sold for as little as €50,000.
That expenditure, however, will only get you the deeds to the properties. Most of these villages are in a state of complete ruin and AldeasAbandonadas, a real estate agency specialising in such deals, estimates a price of between €500,000 and €600,000 to make the buildings habitable.
Nevertheless, there is considerable interest. AldeasAbandonadas reports that 70% of clients come from abroad. British buyers lead the way followed Belgians, French and, of late, an increasing number of investors from Russia and Arab countries. Interest from Spaniards is small but growing.
It is not easy to secure these purchases since would-be buyers must deal with a number of owners, including some who have left Spain and others who have inherited the property.
AldeasAbandonadas and similar agencies will locate the owners and do the necessary paperwork with the public notary, the land register and the local councils.
Some buyers plan to set up a tourism business, others to farm while some are simply seeking an unusual retirement haven.
If that is your dream, then go for it. However I always advise caution to expats who want to invest in specific properties or property schemes.
I am not thinking here of people buying a home for themselves. There are beautiful properties to be had in wonderful Spanish locations, often at very reasonable prices.
But it is one thing to look at a house and decide if it is right for you. It is quite a different matter to assess the market and decide if it is where you want to place your capital.
Deserted villages at least have an aura of romance. That can’t be said for every new marina and tourist development but, as an investment, they can prove just as risky.
What most expats want is peace of mind and a secure environment in which their money can grow.
For that, you need advice. Let me declare an interest here. My company, the Woodbrook Group, is an international firm of financial advisers and, of course, we would be very pleased to handle your business. But whoever you take advice from, make sure it is sound and impartial and do not rush into any investment without knowledge.
The Woodbrook Group is not owned by any financial institution or life insurance company. This makes us different from the majority of financial advisory companies and means we can offer you unbiased and impartial advice tailored to your individual requirements.
Michael Doherty is CEO of the Woodbrook Group
*For more information, contact our team at the Woodbrook Group Office in Marbella: Av. Ricardo Soriano, 72 Edificio Golden Portal B, 1ª Planta 29601 Marbella, Málaga, Spain.
Telephone: +34 952768471