Spain Real Estate
Enchanting Spanish Real Estate
For many, the real estate in Spain is the stuff that dreams are made on. Picture a stone farmhouse amidst the vineyards… a white-washed cottage surrounded by olive groves… a chic apartment whose balcony looks out on a centuries-old town square, bustling with cafes… With beaches, mountains, and fabulous cities, Spain has plenty to choose from:
The Catalan Coast south of Barcelona offers city amenities, small-town feel, and miles of beautiful urban beaches. A string of charming, small towns lines this coast… towns with colorful plazas, pedestrian-only centers, and plenty of local shops and restaurants. Yet the metropolis—Barcelona—can be as little as 20 minutes away on suburban trains. The climate is mild—and even when it’s too chilly for wintertime swimming, it’s warm enough for the sunny outdoor cafes.
Property Samples on the Costa Dourada:
- In pretty Castelldefels, just 20 minutes from Barcelona, a 700-square-foot apartment with balcony in the city center, close to shops, is selling for €105,000 ($136,500).
The Alhambra, Granada’s famous rose-red citadel, bears an enigmatic inscription that translates as: “Give him alms, woman, for there is nothing in this life so cruel as to be blind in Granada.”
Baking under Andalusian skies, Granada taps into the emotions as well as the senses. It bridges the worlds of Islam and Christianity, meshing together Jewish and Gypsy traditions along the way. With the Sierra Nevada mountains as a backdrop, it’s difficult to envisage a more dramatic setting for a city. Or a sultan’s palace…
The Alhambra’s fortress-palace complex was built mostly in the 13th century. A $15 admission fee gives you entrance into a lost world of passion, intrigue, and tragedy. But there’s far more to Granada than a palace. It’s a city you simply must visit.
Property Sample in Granada:
- In Granada’s old center, the Albayzin, a 538-square foot, one-bedroom/one-bathroom apartment is selling for €90,000 ($117,000).
Buying real estate in Spain
Purchasing procedureThe buying process is divided in three phases:
- Making an offer
- Entering in a private contract
The private contract should contain details of the agreed deposit payment, purchase price, and details for payment of the outstanding balance of the agreed buying price plus any additional extras and your intended completion. A notary will prepare the official contracts and make sure it complies with Spanish regulations. Any property sale or purchase in Spain should be registered in the Land Registry, and it’s important to make sure any relevant taxes are paid before this is done.
There are no restrictions for foreigners buying real estate in Spain.
*Prices as of 2014.
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I’ve traveled widely throughout the Iberian Peninsula and stood watching the wild Atlantic crash on the shores of Portugal and the Mediterranean Sea lapping long beaches to the south of Spain. From a traveler’s point of view, this whole Peninsula—with its Moorish and Basque influences—is charming and intriguing. This is where you’ll find some of Europe’s best weather…as well as good food, good wine, and dramatic landscapes.
Way before I ever make a recommendation for a foreign real estate buy, I know exactly what the market is doing—and how certain real estate trends are likely to play out. Identifying and understanding market trends is key to smart real estate investment overseas. It’s the difference between buying a nice and low-priced property that will stay at the same price point for years to come…and buying a property that’s set to rise quickly in value over the coming years.
In this seaside city, you can stroll the beach in short sleeves as early as March and as late as October. In winter you need only a jacket. And the sun shines most days. Just steps from its long, urban sandy beach is a historic center of flag-stoned pedestrian streets and cream-colored buildings housing cafes, restaurants, and small hotels.
There’s something special about wine country. All around you, rows of vines stretch off to the horizon. A short stroll to your local café is all you need to enjoy the regional vintage, with each wine variety tempered by the terroir of the region: the combination of factors (including weather, soil, and even bedrock) that feed into a wine’s flavor.
The Costa del Sol, a stretch of coast that runs along Spain’s southern coast, has struggled with a mixed reputation over the years. It was long known as a place where visitors from northern Europe came for cheap beer and sunshine. And the city of Málaga, east of the better-known Marbella, had an even worse reputation. It was the place even those “cheap-beer-and-sunshine” visitors wanted to avoid—a dirty, grimy, and crime-ridden port city. Millions of passengers landed each year in Málaga airport, to head west along the coast to the beaches, golf courses, and English pubs. They didn’t even think about visiting Málaga. It seemed as though this ancient city had been lost: 2,800 years of human settlement decaying.
The short stretch of coast you find south of Barcelona is called the Costa del Garraf. Here you’ll find a string of three small towns that offer upscale amenities, relaxed living, easy access to Barcelona, and great-value real estate…
The Romans’ influence stretches down the millennia into architecture, literature, theater, warfare, politics… They are a pillar upon which Western civilization is built. At its height, the Roman Empire held sway over much of Europe, the Near East, and North Africa. Its borders expanded over the centuries as the Romans took new lands… or shrunk in the face of barbarian hordes that invaded as the empire declined.
Before the automobile came along, people lived life on a more intimate scale. You shopped at the local butcher, baker, and grocer (whom you knew by name). The café downstairs, or down the street, was your second home, and its patrons your second family. You scheduled your day by how long it took to walk from place to place…and nobody was in a rush, anyway.
For millions of folks, golf satisfies something in the soul: hitting that one pure shot…breathing fresh air…and walking an immaculate course…the fast friendships forged on the fairway (and in the clubhouse bar). The game we know today has its origins in Scotland in the 15th century. popularized by British royalty, it soon spread throughout Europe and beyond.
A cobbled square, an outdoor café, a sky full of stars. Vincent van Gogh’s Café Terrace At Night is laden with the romance of place—I always want to step into the picture and sit at one of the tables…drink a glass or two of wine…join the patrons in idle conversation. Van Gogh painted the picture during his time in Arles—a small city in Provence in the sunny south of France.
In the northwest corner of Spain you ﬁnd a land where the bagpipes, known locally as the gaita, is the preferred instrument, a hallmark of the region’s Celtic heritage. The Galicia province, one of the least-known Celtic nations, is littered with Celtic sites. These include ancient places of worship and stone huts similar to those found in other parts of the Celtic world. Festivals with Celtic origins continue to be celebrated. And the local language, Gallego, even has several words of Celtic origin. Today the region is an autonomous community within modern Spain.
Europe offers rich culture, history, sophistication and—with today’s strong dollar—affordable living as well. The InternationalLiving.com report points to the five best-value countries for a European retirement today.
It’s 10 a.m. in the morning and I’m strolling a nearly-deserted beach. A few people walk their dogs along the boardwalk, or paseo marítimo, while joggers pass them at a steady, even pace. I’m wearing only a light sweater over my sleeveless top, and within an hour I’ll shed it, as temperatures rise to a pleasant mid-70s F. By afternoon, sunbathers will dot this long beach, a few hardy souls even swimming the still-chilly waters of the Guadalquivir River. More will enjoy al fresco meals at the many water-side restaurants, their faces tilting toward the sun as they enjoy freshly-caught seafood and the region’s crisp white wines.
The glittering, cerulean Mediterranean. Not a bad view every morning as you enjoy coffee and croissants from your terrace. Life is good. Sunny days. Freshcaught seafood. Crashing waves your lullaby every night…or for those drowsy, afternoon, after-lunch siestas. And salt-scented breezes keeping things cool.
Spain’s best beaches are hidden amongst pristine nature preserves, ancient pine forests, and historic cities that span civilizations. They have been discovered only by a small number of surfers, locals, and hippies. Now, thanks to a special distressed situation, you can buy in this undiscovered Spain for as little as one-third of what it used to cost.
Mexico’s Riviera Maya runs south of Cancun to Tulúm. The sand is white…and the water, turquoise. In the jungle, you’ll find Maya ruins. Offshore, the world’s second-longest coral reef is home to brightly colored fish. The biosphere at Sian Ka’an is a great place to hike, kayak, and study nature. The coral reef offshore attracts divers and snorkelers. Golf, hiking, spelunking in ancient caves…it’s all here. Tulúm is, and will stay, boutique. The Sian Ka’an biosphere means that much of the land is protected. Development will be low rise and low density—that’s if and where it’s permitted. Yet, amazingly, you’re just a 90-minute drive to the airport and two hours in the air to the U.S.
In the early and mid-2000s, Europe’s real estate markets embarked on a massive tear. People re-financed, often to buy a vacation home or make a speculative investment in Europe’s sunnier locales. Values rose and rose…until everything stopped. The market imploded and real estate owners found themselves deeply under water. By 2009, with a few exceptions, Europe’s real estate markets had halted. Transactions simply stopped. The gulf between sellers’ expectations and what buyers were willing to pay was so great that there was nowhere for them to meet. Now markets are moving again. And in four countries in particular—Ireland, Portugal, Greece and Spain—I see opportunity today. An added plus is the current strength of the U.S. dollar. At time of writing, your U.S. dollar buys you 24% more euros than it did in March 2014. Now, I’m not a currency guy, and I’m certainly not making a call on future euro-dollar exchange rates, but it makes European opportunities all the more attractive right now.
Imagine waking up in the morning and enjoying a leisurely cup of coffee before heading out your back door to get breakfast. You gather eggs from your hens. Tomatoes, peppers, and herbs, all from your kitchen garden, as well as homemade goat cheese, are added for an excellent omelet. The fresh-squeezed orange juice comes from your trees. Life in the cities and suburbs of the U.S. can mean being far removed from the origins of the food we eat. If you dream of getting back to the land, you’ll find hobby farms with fertile soil, ideal growing conditions, and great locations throughout the world.
Today real estate shoppers in Spain will find good-value properties at bargain prices in three scenic mountain towns—Mijas, Ojén and Torrox—located 30 minutes from the popular resort town of Marbella. With more than 2,800 hours of sunshine a year, this region attracts travellers and expats looking to escape a harsh winter back home and save money at the same time. “A couple can live well for about $2,400 a month, including $600 in rent,” reports InternationalLiving.com editor Nazareen Heazle.
A populace that appreciates art, a local government that supports artistic endeavors, and a network of galleries to show your work…these are key ingredients for artists choosing a place to live. Surroundings that inspire creativity, whether through architecture, natural beauty, or indigenous influences, are also important. Finally, affordable accommodation and studio space are vital as well. A place where you can live well on a little income and concentrate on your work. Fortunately, even as artists get priced out of metropolises like New York City and Paris, other cities have stepped in. These havens can be found around the world. And even if you’re not a painter or sculptor, these cities are great for those who love and appreciate art…not to mention perfect places to sample new styles and snap up unusual pieces at bargain prices.
It’s no secret that Spain’s property market has been at rock-bottom the last few years, but it’s slowly starting to pick up here in Mijas. Buyers, mostly from Western Europe, are making their way back to southern Spain. They are buying with a view to retiring to the area. (Mijas already has a very international community…I met an Irish woman who runs a chocolate shop and a relocation consultant who’s originally from England.) That’s good news if you like the idea of living here. There’s a good choice of rentals at affordable prices. And, despite the return of the European snowbirds, there are still plenty of great-value properties for sale.
It’s a day for dreaming of Andalucia. So I’m letting Spanish composer Manuel de Falla’s Nights in the Gardens of Spain take me on a musical journey back to Granada—back to the lament of flamenco guitars, orange trees, and jasmine-scented patios with pattering fountains. On my last visit to Spain, I added a Granada side trip. Sheer indulgence as I’d been before, but it’s a city made for indulgence. De Falla’s old garden, just above the Realejo neighborhood, is laden with roses. Gardens have a long history in Spain. For the Moors, a garden symbolized an inner paradise and a reflection of heaven.
It’s a sun-drenched morning as I stand at a lookout point above the town of Mijas. Below me, the gleaming white buildings, with their roofs of rust-red tile, tumble down the mountainside. The pine-covered hills of the Sierra de Mijas mountain range reach up into the clear sky to my right. On my left, I can see the Costa del Sol—the Sun Coast—with the glittering Mediterranean Sea stretching to the horizon. It’s a comfortable 66 F here in Mijas, which is located in southernmost Spain. With more than 2,800 hours of sunshine a year around these parts, it’s the perfect place to escape a harsh winter back home.
From the quaint town of Cotacachi to the vibrant capital, Quito, from Salinas by the sea to the peaks of the Andes, Ecuador’s diversity is a key part of the massive appeal that sees it regain the coveted top spot on this year’s retirement index. Although prices have risen slightly in recent years, Ecuador’s real estate is still the best value you’ll find anywhere. This is bolstered by the generous array of benefits the government has afforded to retirees. Over-65s get discounts on flights originating in Ecuador, as well as up to 50% off entry to movies and sporting events. Discounts are also available on public transport (50%) and utilities, with the option of a free landline if you purchase a property.
We typically see Path of Progress opportunities in places that are on the up…we usually discover distressed opportunities by finding high-quality inventory somewhere that’s broadly in crisis. It’s rare that we see the convergence of both these trends—but today that’s the opportunity we have along a stretch of Spain’s Costa del Sol. San Pedro is a pleasant sleepy Spanish town of leafy squares and pedestrian streets. Marbella is 12 minutes away (by car…25 minutes by public bus).
I go to Spain whenever I get the opportunity; this is my third vacation there in the past five years. This time I’ll head to the North of Spain…to the little-known but very affordable region of Galicia. Previously, I’ve visited artistic Barcelona, historic Seville, and sun-soaked Malaga…three cities with their own distinctive characteristics, appeals, and benefits—and I’m anxious to follow up this vacation with another soon, to picture-perfect Valencia, the bull-running city of Pamplona, and the traditionally preserved hillside towns of Cuenca and Ronda.
Pundits are divided on whether Spain’s property market will see further price falls. A huge overhang of unsold homes remains, but for the first time in seven years, sales in Málaga province showed an increase in 2013. Spain will always be a popular retirement destination for northern Europeans, and the number of U.S. citizens registered as living in Spain has increased, too.
Steeped in memories of Moorish Al-Andalus, the narrow streets, shady gardens, and stunning architecture of Granada make it one of Spain’s most iconic cities. In the Realejo, the old Jewish quarter, a refurbished 913-square-foot apartment close to Campo del Príncipe (which has some wonderful tapas bars) is reduced from $162,000 to $134,000.
Thanks to Europe’s financial and economic crisis, you’ll find some of the best real estate values in the best parts of Europe right now—and some of the best opportunities to profit. Specifically, the deals are to be found in Ireland, Portugal, and Spain. These places were hit hard by the crisis—and pricings finally reflect that.
What’s not to love about cultural riches and cobbled charms? Throughout most of Europe, the property market remains in the doldrums, which means you can find bargains. From the Atlantic to the Mediterranean…from Ireland to Greece, there’s a tempting array of move-into properties that will leave you change from €100,000 ($137,000).
It’s called the “Old World” for a reason, and despite two world wars and decades of development, history is evident in the architecture of Europe. You can stroll cobbled streets where lords and ladies once rushed to galas, climb castle steps in the footsteps of armored knights, and explore villages preserved for 500 years or more.
There’s no question…Barcelona is fabulous. A mild Mediterranean climate; attractive urban beaches; a vibrant cultural scene; lively street ambience; great shopping; and some of the best food in Spain…Barcelona has it all. But—while Barcelona is a great place to visit—not everyone wants to live in a major metropolis. If you like what Barcelona offers but prefer day-to-day life on a smaller, more intimate scale, you have options here.
In the popular imagination, it’s the great capitals of Europe that get the most attention. Tourists flock to Paris, Rome, Madrid, and London for the big-city flair, museums, and monuments. It’s the thing to do. And granted, you should seize any opportunity to stroll the Champs-Élysées on a beautiful spring evening or explore London’s international cuisine and regal parks.
The global economic crisis popped Spain’s real estate bubble. That’s why today you could buy a spacious condo in a high-end community on one of the nicest stretches of the Costa del Sol with monthly payments from $483. That’s a low sticker price. And, this is a stunning place to visit and spend time. You have dramatic views along the coast. Long winding sandy beaches you can walk for miles. Quirky Gibraltar.
For 15 years, real estate prices in Spain soared. Then in 2007 demand slowed. By the time the worldwide economic crisis rolled through Spain and Europe, the real estate bubble had well and truly popped.
Seductive and sensuous, an amalgam of cultures, Andalusia gets under your skin. Maybe that’s why so many of Spain’s signature sounds and images come from this vast, southern region of the country: castanets, gypsies, flamenco dancers, bull fighters, strumming guitars…This is romantic Spain…the one the tourists flock to.
In August I visited a new luxury beachfront apartment building on the Costa del Sol’s new Golden Mile. Within eight days earlier this year, 122 apartments in the building sold. The fire-sale pricing was that good: $347,209 for an apartment. Seven months later, these apartments were listing for $528,396 each.
In medieval Europe, keeping an eye out for and guarding against invasion—a frequent occurrence in those days—was no easy feat. But one of a nobleman’s greatest defensive weapons was a castle perched on a rocky hilltop near an important mountain pass. The location itself—surrounded by steep cliff—offered protection.
For anyone who’s been there recently, it’s no surprise that Spain is one of the top five destinations in International Living’s Global Retirement Index—our pick of the top retirement destinations in the world. Spain is arguably the best bargain in Europe, offering First-World living at a cost that can compete with some Latin-American countries. Thanks to the ongoing recession, real estate prices in many parts of Spain have plummeted. Buying here is more affordable now than it’s been in decades.
The white-washed town of Istán clings to the slopes of the Sierra de las Nieves (Mountains of the Snows). It’s a truly hidden place—yet stunningly and conveniently positioned. I’ve visited plenty of charming hill towns and villages in Spain, France, and Italy where real estate is cheap. But the downside has always been remoteness. Istán is different.
Spain Real Estate
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