What does the coronavirus outbreak mean for those buying properties in Spain?

  • Fuster & Associates provides detailed guidance for Brits buying in Spain
  • Construction restarts under strict guidelines, but delays inevitable for new build homes
  • Virtual visits, deposit contract extensions and other tools allowing buyers to push ahead

It sometimes feels like there are very few areas of ‘normal’ life that the coronavirus outbreak hasn’t affected. Travel restrictions and business closures have impacted almost every industry in some way, including the Spanish second homes market.

The construction market, along with all other non-essential areas of activity, was at a standstill for weeks during Spain’s coronavirus lockdown. The market reactivated on 13 April, with restrictions, procedures and an action guide in place in order to prevent against the further spread of COVID-19. It’s certainly not business as usual, but it is a move back towards some semblance of normality for the sector.

So where does all of this leave buyers?

The coronavirus pandemic has surprised many of those who were previously happily on track to fulfilling their dream of buying a second home in Spain. In some cases, it has stopped the process entirely, while in others it has made moving forward with the purchase far more difficult, leaving many future owners worrying about their options.”

David Fuster, Founding Partner, Fuster & Associates

Expert Spanish property lawyers Fuster & Associates have found that some future buyers have begun to question their decision to buy in Spain. Meanwhile, others are determined to go all the way and succeed with their Spanish property ownership dream. From Fuster & Associates’ perspective, the company continues to work for its clients as normal, working closely with developers, notaries and real estate agents so that clients’ purchases and sales are not frustrated.

It’s still perfectly possible to purchase the home of your dreams here in Spain. Buyers just need to take additional precautions to ensure the quality, safety and efficiency of the purchase process.”

David Fuster, Founding Partner, Fuster & Associates

Having a good lawyer is key to a safe purchase process, while those looking to take a belt and braces approach have the option to buy properties that have been quality approved with the Fuster Standard. This important quality mark assures the buyer that all legal requirements for sale have been met, so that they can go ahead and purchase with peace of mind.

For those buying new build homes in Spain, Fuster & Associates warns of some inevitable delays to the process. On 29 March, the Spanish government decreed the closure of all non-essential activities for two weeks in an attempt to try and curb the rapid spread of the novel coronavirus. That closure included construction companies. As such, despite the industry gearing up again on 13 April, disruption to the completion timetables of homes under construction will be unavoidable.

Buyers considering signing a contract and making payments at this stage need to hire a lawyer to increase the security of the process and protect their investment, according to the Fuster & Associates team. A bank guarantee can help them to do this, provided the developer has a construction licence. If a deposit was paid prior to the licence being in place, a decent property lawyer will be able to obtain other safeguards.

For us, establishing a controlled process so that our clients don’t take risks is our top priority. This is the mindset that gave birth to the Fuster Standard in the first place. We are now facing uncertain times, so the reassurance that the Fuster Standard affords the buyer is more important than ever.”

David Fuster, Founding Partner, Fuster & Associates

Before signing the deed, an inspection visit is customary. However, with domestic travel severely restricted and international travel all but impossible, such visits cannot go ahead. Some vendors are taking the inspection visit online, with virtual tours, while others are making an annex in writing to the deed, so that the process can move ahead with the promise of resolution of any issues taking place after this exceptional situation has passed.

For resale properties where the purchase is already in progress, both the buyer and the seller must fulfil the obligations in the contracts that they have signed. If they don’t formalize the sale, the buyer could lose their deposit. If the seller backs out, they will have to pay double the deposit amount to the would-be buyer.

“The problem with this is that the buyer may find that the seller is abroad and unable to get home to hand over the keys. Likewise, the seller may need to take furniture out of the property before the sale completes but find themselves unable to do so.”

David Fuster, Founding Partner, Fuster & Associates

In such cases, Fuster & Associates advises the parties to agree an extension to the deposit contract. This can be done through a private agreement between both parties, without the need for a trip to the notary’s office.

The company also points out that real estate agents have plenty of tools at their disposal when it comes to enabling would-be buyers to find out about properties online. Buyers who invest their time in research during the lockdown can therefore be well prepared for when the travel restrictions ease and they can visit their preferred property and make a firm decision to purchase.

For more information please contact Fuster & Associates on +34 965 271 505 or visit www.fuster-associates.com