A lot of Belgians are busy with or thinking about purchasing a second home in the south of Spain, as the prices are very interesting there are the moment. Still, it is worthwhile to take the time to read our tips before you book a cheap flight to Alicante or Murcia.
Ten important tips
- Of course you have to take the time to look at several houses yourself. Also visit different real estate agencies.
- Why not spend a couple of weeks in the region of your choice during the winter period? It is a great way to find out if the climate is good during winter time. You never know … It might be so cold and dull in winter that you can’t wait to return to Belgium.
- The ideal scenario is that you can rent the house or the apartment for a year. This is a great way to discover any possible flaws and, especially, to find out what the region is like in the daily life. Is the house comfortable enough? How far is the closest shop, pharmacy, medical centre, clinic, ambulance, walking path etc. located? How quickly can you get back to Belgium?
- It can help if you call upon a local Belgian real estate agency, even if it’s only to help you with the language and the paperwork that the purchase involves. Just google ‘Belgian real estate agent Spain’ in order to find addresses. If your Spanish is okay, then it might be even better to work via a real estate lawyer (just google ‘abogado imobiliario’). In this way, unpleasant surprises (infringements upon zoning regulations, deficiencies in the house, having to pay an advance too soon …) can be eliminated.
- Before you sign an agreement, try to contact with fellow-countrymen who have had a second home in the region for a while. Their experiences can be very interesting.
- In contrast to what you often read it is currently not that interesting to buy real estate in Spain via a bank. It is true that the Spanish banks have a big housing offer due to the many bankruptcies, but these are often decrepit buildings that were constructed with cheap materials and that have been empty for years.
- For the same reason it is probably better to opt for recently built or new houses than for existing apartments and villas.
- If you are looking for an apartment or villa with a real frontal sea view you will always pay more. Do not hesitate to look around in the hinterland for bargains.
- Is your second home an investment or do you want to enjoy it yourself? If you want to recuperate some of your money buy subletting the apartment or the villa as a holiday home, it might be interesting to buy it from a real estate agency or a property developer who offers a rental service.
- Make a realistic estimate of all the costs – in Spain too, you have to pay for electricity and water. Take into account all the additional costs, such as the notary or lawyer and the maintenance fees for the common areas and the pool. The crisis has obliged Spain to increase its taxes. The VAT on construction has increased from 4 to 10%. Furthermore, in Spain you have to pay property tax and municipal taxes. Make sure to check whether in the city or town of your choice there is a tax on second homes. What about the capital gains tax if you want to sell your Spanish estate after a couple of years? Take into account that the Belgian tax authorities are closely watching you too: you have to declare a second home abroad and any possible income that you gain from it (you can, however, deduct the real estate tax paid abroad).