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The Spanish Way

WHERE?

Firstly why choose Spain? Well it enjoys a true Mediterranean climate: long dry summers & mild winters (at least on or near the Mediterranean coast). Travel from the UK is both easy & cheap. The cost and choice of flights to Spain is probably better than any other country in Europe.. Alternatively, Spain is within comfortable driving distance ??? either through France via the Channel or Santander and Bilbao in northern Spain. It is far from isolated from the rest of Europe: we can reach our favorite ski resort in Andorra within six hours, and Paris, Geneva & Turin are well within a (long) days drive. Spain is politically stable and has a well established infrastructure of transport, health, education, public services & utilities etc. Here you can also enjoy a relaxed, more laid back reception from the Spaniards than in many other European countries.

So Why the Costa Blanca?

The various costas enjoy a totally different climate to either inland or northern Spain, however the climate here is much warmer than that of the costas to the north east. The more south westerly costas are obviously a longer drive away. The Costa del Sol tends to be rather brash, high-rise and often much more expensive than the other costas. The Costa Blanca can be clearly divided at Alicante between north and south. Property in the south tends to be much cheaper to buy, but is much more densely developed, it tends to have a more arid and flat landscape. The north Costa Blanca can be divided further into the Marina Baja (lower coastal) & the Marina Alta (higher coastal) areas. The former includes La Villa Joyosa and Benidorm then becomes the Marina Alta from Altea. The Marina Alta embraces the towns and villages we both favour and specialize in. The landscape is verdant (but still relatively dry) and varied with many hills and mountains to explore. This area tends to be more expensive, as development is much more controlled and restricted.

OUR AREA

Calpe sits close to the Rock of Ifach on a hill rising up from the last spurs of the Sierra Bernia, a geographical marvel that provides access to the northernmost towns of Alicante's Marina district. The town boasts two sandy beaches set around The Rock of Ifach and other dramatic cliff areas.Calpe's fishing port comes alive with hustle and bustle as the afternoon fish auction draws near.
On the Restaurant terraces the customers have the possibility to try some of the fresh local shellfish.
The old town centre offers several places of interest including at its centre the church.

CULTURE & CUSTOMS

As indicated above, this really is the ???Real Spain???, with much of the scenery, customs, traditions and attitudes well preserved. The annual week-long fiestas are a spectacle of feasting, fireworks, processions, music, bull-running & giant communal paellas. Such events are often repeated on the basis of the flimsiest of excuses but also on the village???s saint???s day, the Christmas & Easter periods and also to celebrate the grape harvests. The downside of all this is that both the siesta and the ma??ana culture are alive and well and it can take a short while to adjust to this.

SERVICES & FACILITIES

For all the old traditions of Spain, this area in particular is finely balanced with excellent services and facilities this is very much a cosmopolitan area with most facilities & services provided in many languages from many origins ??? either British or English-speaking Spanish, Dutch, German, Swiss or Scandinavian. Virtually anything you would want to buy in the UK you can buy here. The medical facilities here are second to none. Schooling is excellent with many local international colleges augmenting many good local Spanish schools, and universities in Alicante & Valencia. We can also recommend local Spanish language schools and one-to-one teachers.

FOOD & DRINK

To eat out with wine is very good value for money. This does not, in any way, mean that choice & quality is compromised. All of the coastal towns have a vast selection of international cuisine,. Calpe in particular, has a row of excellent seafood restaurants facing the harbour. ??The overwhelming majority of the food and drink we consume here is grown, caught or manufactured within this region and is freshly available in the local shops and markets.

THE WEATHER

The World Health Organization has decreed that this particular part of the Costa Blanca enjoys one of the very healthiest climates in the world. We can also expect to enjoy about 320days of sunshine & crystal blue skies each year. Together with the adjacent Balearic Islands, our climate is sometimes more sub-tropical than Mediterranean. We feel that the Costa Blanca has the best ???climate compromise??? of all the costas. We seem to have just three seasons: Spring, Summer & Autumn. Do bear in mind though that the winter, especially January & February can be surprisingly chilly ??? particularly inland or in the mountains.

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PURCHASE CONSIDERATIONS

You can realistically expect property prices to be lower than the UK counterparts. In terms of budget you must allow around 10% on top of the purchase price for taxes & buying costs. Mortgages are readily available and the current rate is about 4.25%

If you are intending to rent out your property and remain based in the U.K. bear in mind the convenience of shops & other local facilities. You are unlikely to find much storage for personal items by way of a loft, garden shed or large cupboards. A villa may have a garage or an under-build store room (a ground level basement type room under an elevated villa); otherwise consider upsizing for an additional bedroom which can be left locked during letting periods, the additional cost will be minimal. If you are looking for a permanent home (now or for relocation in the future), be aware that properties built for permanent use often have larger rooms, better storage and more conveniences for long-term residential use.

Do you want to be located close to a town and its conveniences or the peace and quiet of a more secluded location? Most buyers opt for a resale or a new build villa (newly-built but to be completed and landscaped by the developer, to your preferences). You could purchase a plot and commission the villa of your dreams, maybe purchase a finca (older farmhouse, usually with a large plot) to extend or refurbish. The other options are an apartment ??? new or resale, a bungalow (in Spain this often describes a linked villa of two floors) or a town house. Older, traditional town houses can be relatively grand affairs lurking behind a modest fa??ade with superb shaded courtyard gardens, sometimes with a pool, and often with a roof terrace.

Most people buy property in Spain to be in the sunshine. Within a couple of months though they are trying to find some shade! When judging properties in Spain it is not always relevant to apply the same parameters as you would in the U.K. Areas of shade are as important as the amount of sunshine a property is exposed to. Spaniards spend at least half the year eating ???Al fresco??? ??? using one of several terraces or balconies at their disposal, according to the time of day and month of the year. This is the kind of lifestyle that needs to be borne in mind when looking for a Spanish property.

BUYING PROCEDURE

Once we have found a suitable property, we will negotiate an offer to purchase with the vendor???s agent, on your behalf. We will then be pleased to introduce to you a mortgage broker, English or English speaking solicitor and a bank. Throughout the whole buying experience and beyond, we will be here to offer practical help and guidance. Beyond completion of your home purchase, we can help with advice on all the practicalities and logistics, from removals & interior furnishing, the location of recommended trades people, shops and stores to schools, doctors, dentists, sports and social clubs & societies.

If you choose to take the ???New build??? option we can monitor progress and check the quality of the build process, liaise with the builder, agents and architects etc. and keep you fully informed of progress (with photographs), through to completion.

LEGAL PROCESS

Once a suitable property has been found, you shall be required to reserve it by the payment of a small deposit ??? this is usually done by credit card at the vendor???s agent???s office. This will temporarily remove the property from the market whilst contracts are drawn up. A solicitor will organise your NIE (fiscal registration/I.D.) which is required for you to open your Spanish bank account. As with all major transactions, you should establish exactly what is required to be carried out on your behalf, together with an estimate of costs.

Please note: it is usual for local taxes and utilities etc to be debited directly from your bank account. It is your responsibility to ensure sufficient funds are always available for this purpose, from day one.

If you are buying a ???New build??? property, please note that the property shall not become legally yours until completion and all the necessary certificates and permits are issued. Meanwhile, it will be necessary to make agreed stage payments to the developer. These payments should be protected with a banker???s bond or insurance guarantee. Your solicitor should ensure that your new property is registered for tax, that it is registered as a new building and that the Escritura (Title Deed) includes the building, as well as the land. It is now a legal requirement that the developer provides a guarantee of this nature (at his expense) which, in the event of default, may require a full refund to you, plus 6% interest.

If buying a Finca, it is important that your solicitor checks its classification. If it is a ???finca urbana,??? as opposed to a ???finca rustica??? then it is regarded as being in an area where building is allowed, otherwise it will be listed as rural, with severe planning and building limitations. This may be a good or bad thing, according to your personal views and plans, of course. Do bear in mind though, that a finca rustica may not be able to raise such a high level of mortgage funding ??? probably a maximum of 50% over 12yrs...

Once the above is in place, a ???Pre-Contracto de Compraventa??? (Sale & Purchase Pre-Contract) will be agreed (in consultation with your solicitor) and signed. At this point, the deposit will need to be made up to (usually) 10%. This effectively locks-in both parties through an ???Arras??? agreement. Unless there has been some form of misrepresentation or non-disclosure, neither party can back-out without the purchaser forfeiting the 10% deposit or the vendor repaying 20% to the purchaser.

Prior to the Pre-contract, your appointed solicitor must check the Proof of Ownership (Registro de la Propiedad), any outstanding charges, taxes or debts etc (in Spain these attach to the property not the previous owner). It is important to remember that on registration of the property you will be liable to pay 6% ITP (transfer tax), or 7% IVA (VAT), plus 0.5% stamp duty. Please remember to budget about 10% over purchase price to cover all taxes, charges and fees associated with the purchase procedure of your home in Spain.
It is strongly recommended that the purchaser(s) and their partners put in place a Spanish will at this time.

BY NOW IT SHOULD BE CLEAR TO YOU JUST HOW IMPORTANT IT IS TO PAY THE COSTS OF EMPLOYING A SOLICITOR TO DEAL WITH ALL THE LEGAL ISSUES ASSOCIATED WITH YOUR PURCHASE.

Apart from saving you much potential aggravation and heart-ache, the financial risks of not doing so, far outweigh the legal costs of this precaution.

The next stage of purchase is the ???Contracto de Compraventa??? ??? again incorporating an Arras agreement. This contract is legally binding and will define the property, what is included and excluded, the price, deposit & balance and the terms and timing of such payments. Also, the date of sale, any warranties and liability for taxes & other costs etc. It is highly preferable that all monies paid over from this stage are paid into a ???Bonded Client Account??? of either the vendor???s agent or your solicitor. Any terms of this contract can be checked, challenged and amended by your solicitor, if required. This contract is officially a private one which may then form the basis of the one to be officially recorded as the Escritura Notarial (effectively the Deed of Conveyance) by the Notary.

The Notary Public, a government appointed legal officer, will examine, explain and validate the purchase contract as public deeds. Please remember that, although an obligatory legal procedure, this is no substitute for the engagement of a solicitor, ideally a locally based, English speaking one, who will carry out all the necessary pre-contract searches and enquiries and pass on the deposit and further payments, through his office on your behalf. It will not be necessary for you personally to be present at the Notario providing you grant Power of Attorney to your solicitor. A simplified copy of this Escritura is called a Copia Simple and you can use this to register, as the property owner, for all local services, taxation, bank records etc.

Mortgages are relatively easy, quick and cheap (currently approx. 4.3%) to arrange and the 10% buying costs can usually be put into the capital sum.

The subject of property and land taxes is both very complicated and variable. Your Spanish solicitor should be entrusted to check, verify and calculate these liabilities for you.

 

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