Time to grab a Spanish bargain – but be careful (Excerpt from the article)

"Desperate to lure foreign buyers back to its property market, Spain's government has cleaned up the buying process. Chiara Cavaglieri and Julian Knight report"

Sunday, 21 August 2011

"With an economy in turmoil and a reputation tarnished by tales of dodgy developers and legal nightmares for expats trying to buy their dream home, the Spanish property market has been something of a disaster zone for the past couple of years.

Yet some say now is the perfect time to snap up a bargain, with the country's banks trying to offload repossessions and new rules being introduced by the government to improve Spain's image and tempt back British buyers.

"We are in the middle of a big PR push by the Spanish government to get the Brits back," said Richard Way, editor of A Place in the Sun magazine. "We already have heavy discounts – depending on the area and the financial position of the developer – now the government is trying to sort out some of the legal and ownership problems which have given the country's property industry such a bad press."

In an attempt to persuade Brits that they will not fall foul of some of the country's numerous property scandals, measures are now in place to make the system more transparent. First and foremost, expat buyers can go to their local town hall to request a translated land registry certificate.

"The new initiative to enable local town halls to issue land registry certificates is a welcome move in the right direction, as long as any local delegated authority, such as this, is not overturned at a later date by central government," said Louise Reynolds, of agent Property Venture.

These certificates, known as nota simples, cost €29 (£25) plus VAT, and include the seller's details, a property description and any charges and embargoes against it. These can be obtained online from the Colegio de Registradores, land registry, buyingahouse.registradores.org.

Other improvements introduced by the Spanish government mean that properties deemed to be fuera de ordenación – not built to current building regulations – can be registered on the land registry as long as they are at least four years old, in order to protect owners who, in many cases, bought in good faith. For anyone buying off-plan, information about any legal proceedings brought against the property, which could result in fines or demolition, must be incorporated into the land registry. Town halls are obliged to provide registrars with this information and will be held financially accountable for any losses incurred by those buying in good faith.

In a bid to support off-plan buyers, it is no longer possible for a new home to be registered on the land registry unless it has the license of first occupation, a construction license and a technical certificate stating that the building corresponds to the plans for which the license was granted.

"Making the local authorities accountable is also a shrewd move to help address potential corruption that has been an issue for some town halls on the costas in the past," said Ms Reynolds. .........."

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