British appetite for holidays and second homes in Spain remains strong, despite the challenges of the pandemic. That’s according to CostaLuz Lawyers, which has laid out how buyers can successfully navigate safe online buying practices.
The Covid-19 crisis has done little to quell the long-term British love for Spain, the company said. In fact, ‘the idea of lounging on a beach in the sunshine holds a great deal more appeal when it is so far out of reach’.
Javier Piñanes, a Spanish tourism board officer based in London, recently pointed out: “There is a strong desire to travel on the part of the British and they emphasise that Spain is the destination they want to travel to. It is their top destination for holiday.”
It’s not just holidays that Brits are dreaming of during lockdown, though, with recently reported figures from Taylor Wimpey España highlighting an increase of 39% in website traffic during the first week of 2021, compared to the same week a year earlier.
But with travel restrictions in place that, currently, have no end in sight, how can British buyers turn their dream of holiday home ownership into reality?
Keith Rule of CostaLuz Lawyers argues that, with the right safeguards in place, it is perfectly possible to buy a Spanish property safely online during the lockdown.
Although buyers can’t visit the property and the local area in-person, for obvious reasons, they can still research to their heart’s content online. Key to doing so safely, the firm says, is to engage an independent lawyer early in the process.
“The right lawyer can be invaluable in terms of helping you choose a Spanish property,” Rule says.
“They can help you to work with reputable, honest and reasonably priced agents, arrange a surveyor, check all required paperwork is in place and do the conveyancing and post-sale work.”
He added: “Not only that, but your transaction will be covered by the law firm's professional indemnity insurance and title insurance, for added peace of mind.”
He said that locating the right agent to buy through is half of the battle, with plenty of British buyers having been burned when attempting to buy property in Spain before now.
The CostaLuz Lawyers team can attest to this, having won almost 850 claims from Spanish property developers and banks, with many cases brought by buyers who paid substantial deposits during the pre-crash years, but never received a completed property.
Even now, many of these cases are still working their way through the courts, some 10 to 15 years after the deposits were lost.
In 2020, CostaLuz Lawyers won 51 cases for a total of 76 clients, despite the shutdown and reduced operation of the Spanish legal system for extended periods during the year.
These cases, Rule continues, highlight how essential it is to find the right agent, something that an independent property lawyer can assist with.
Not only that, but the right legal representation can also open doors to potential cost savings, he adds.
For instance, CostaLuz Lawyers says it operates a service that connects British owners of negative equity homes in Spain – those who are facing foreclosure in the near future – with buyers in the UK.
To avoid foreclosure, the service enables the seller and buyer to agree a below market value price, ‘keeping everyone happy (including the bank)’. In some cases, Rule points out, this service has seen buyers purchase homes for around 60% of the price paid for them back in 2007.
“Buying during the pandemic means finding new ways to view properties and engage with the purchase process. It can also deliver some excellent bargains. And what better way to finally celebrate the lifting of travel restrictions, whenever that may be, than to visit your new holiday home?” Rule concludes.