Top Tips for Building Your Luxury Dream Home in Spain

While buying an already built home is a more straightforward option, building your own home has many advantages, mainly that you can design every aspect of the home from scratch leading to a finished project that has every room exactly as you want it.

It is also a popular choice for those who prefer to be away from the hustle and bustle of summer resort life. The basics of building your own home are you buy a parcela, which is Spanish for a plot of land, and hire an architect who will create plans to your specifications. Another option is to go with a standard design supplied by a builder.

However, it must be said the taking the route of building a home on the Costa Blanca is not a path for the timid. Spanish red tape and the often-bizarre business dealings can make building a home from scratch a nightmare. But having said that, there are many outstanding builders on the Costa Blanca who will build a uniquely designed house on your plot or will provide a plot and build a property selected from a choice of standard designs. Here, real estate and construction company Valuvillas, based in Javea on the North Costa Blanca offers an insight as to what to look into if you are considering designing your own perfect villa in Spain.

Infrastructure

When you are looking at a specific area, it is important to look into plans for infrastructure for the area, with both national and regional government departments. In certain parts of the Costa Blanca, roads and railways need upgrading, and there may be projects to do so underway. This could lead to a quiet rural plot ending up next to a main road or even an autopista.

When buying a plot, it is important to take the same precautions as if you were buying a property. Make sure it is approved for a building permit (if it is classed as a finca urbana it will most likely be approved for construction, but always check with the town hall first).

Make sure the plot is large enough for the type of property you want to build, as some areas require that there be a certain number of metres between the property wall and the perimeter of the plot. The minimum size plot for building varies from area to area, so again check with the townhall to make sure the plot size is correct relating to the property size you have in mind.

Spanish building regulations

It is normal to assume you can build a similar type of property as that on a neighbouring plot. However, this is not always the case as your plot may be subject to different regulations, or the regulations could have changed since your neighbour’s home was built. Also, consider that some plots are just not suitable for building on; it could be that they are too steep, or they would need ridiculously expensive foundations or retaining walls.

It is wise to talk with an architect before buying anything. A professional can inform you if the plot you are considering is fit for construction, and estimate the costs related to foundations and retaining walls.

Furthermore, it is also prudent to pay for a land survey which although is fairly expensive (expect to pay anywhere from €1800-€4200) but a survey will verify the boundaries and rights to water usage. It will also confirm that there are not any limitations with regards to electricity lines, water pipes, or public right of way that could affect your building plans.

Access

If they only access to a property is a non-tarred dirt track, be very aware that on the Costa Blanca rainfall can be torrential – particularly in winter. In just a few hours, tracks can change from accessible pathways into treacherous mud banks, with huge cracks or could even be washed away entirely, meaning the only way to get to your house is by foot or on two wheels.

Legalities

Before you sign anything concerning buying a plot, particularly if you are looking at rural areas, it really is advisable to hire a professional such as a lawyer who will carefully look into the regulations and conditions that may affect the land.

Do not believe everything the landowner or even an estate agent tells you, because they will be keen to sell the plot and declare that getting planning permission is straightforward when in fact the opposite is true.

Being the new owner of a plot of land that you cannot build on is no fun, and a very expensive mistake, so ask your lawyer to get written confirmation from the town hall that corresponds to your land stating the land can be built on and is approved for road access.

Guaranteeing a building licence in Spain

Before you buy a plot of land you intend to build on, you need to make sure that the purchase contract depends on being granted the necessary licencia de obras (building license). You can check with the local property registry and confirm for yourself that planning permission has been granted. Do not leave this task with the builder, because if the planning information is incorrect in any way, it could lead to you being responsible for improving the nearby infrastructure, or the property could even be demolished. Also, be aware that planning permission can take some time to be granted.

You will find building firms on the Costa Blanca offering packages that include a plot and the cost of constructing a property. This may not turn out to be such a good deal as it originally looks, so shop around and find out how much it would cost to buy a plot separately and then hire a builder. If you do opt for a package construction deal, make sure you get separate contracts for the building and for the purchase of the land, and before signing the building contract obtain the title deeds. If building on an existing urbanisation, make sure the urbanization is approved as there are still some on the cost of Blanca that are illegal.

Costs

The cost of a plot depends largely on the area and also if it is level. You can expect to pay between €50 and €400 m². As a rule of the thumb, the cost of the land usually equates around 50% of the cost of building the home, but having said this is still possible to buy a plot and build a better and larger property at a lower cost than that of a second-hand resale property. And remember when you design your own home you can make sure the materials and the labour you are top-quality.

As a ballpark figure, expect to pay around €700-€1500 per square meter depending on the quality of the materials and the area you choose. It is always a good idea to add around 10 to 15% to your original estimated costs, as frequently building your own home turns out to be more expensive than initially expected.

Extras

If you would ideally like a swimming pool or garage, it is a good idea to build it at the same time as the house if possible, because if built separately the applicable IVA is 16% compared to 7% when built together.

Finding a Costa Blanca architect & builder

When looking for professionals to help you obtain your dream home it is advisable to get suggestions from local people whose opinion you can trust. Note, that estate agents or other professionals are not always to be relied upon, as they may earn a commission. You can obtain useful information from expats who have lived long-term in an area that you particularly like.

Many Spanish architects on the Costa Blanca speak English and you will find architects from other EU countries such as Holland and Germany working in resort areas. Architects’ payments are typically assessed as a percentage of the total cost of the build, normally between 5 and 10 per cent, which unfortunately does not inspire them to reduce costs. In Spain, however, there are no longer compulsory minimum fees for architects, so it is worth trying to reach a deal.

A good architect will know of dependable builders, but also do your own enquiries, considering the reputation and financial status of the builder. Be careful of an architect who comes with his ‘own’ builder (or vice versa, a constructor with his own architect), as it is up to the architect to make sure the constructor carries out the job according to plan, so you don’t want them to be too friendly.

Before hiring anyone, always check out other houses the builder has worked on, if possible, ask the owners if they had any issues. Building standards in Spain differ significantly and you should not presume the lowest offer you get is the best value. Your best protection when constructing a property is the character of the builder and his financial resources.

It is important a builder provides a ‘termination’ guarantee which is supported by a bank or insurance company to protect you if he goes bust before completing the work, This must be stipulated in the contract.

If you want a home built precisely to your requirements, you must expect to supervise every step or employ a professional to do it for you, otherwise it has highly likely your directions won’t be exactly followed.

Around 70 per cent of an architect’s fees are due when building commences, and the balance payable upon completion when all applicable certificates have been issued by the town hall.

Contracts

Before signing any contracts, you need to get several written quotes from a number of building companies. Make sure the contract includes insulation against heat and cold and also protection against dampness. The contract should include a comprehensive description of the quality of materials to be used referring to your architect’s plans, the precise location of where the building will be developed within the plot, and the building and payment schedules which should be done in stages. It ideally should also include a penalty in the event of late completion, a retention of 5 to 10% of building costs to guarantee against faults, and details of how any disagreements will be resolved. However, it could be difficult for the builder to accept a late completion penalty clause as construction work is very rarely finished on time.

As the owner, you will be liable for a tax on the construction installation and work, which is imposed on any work which requires a municipal license. This ranges from 2 to 4% of the total cost and you will probably be asked to pay it when the local authorities deliver the building permit.

Before you accept an estimate have it checked by a building consultant to make sure it is a fair quote. The quote should include 7% IVA. Make sure if the estimate is simply an estimate or a fixed price because costs can rise considerably during building work. It is especially important you get a lawyer to check the contract, as typically building contracts are prejudiced to favour the builder with very few rights for the client.

Guarantees

Under Spanish law, a builder is required to guarantee the property against structural problems for 10 years, known is Spanish as the Seguro Decenal. This increases to 15 years if the constructor failed to conform to any specific clauses in the contract. The architect will also be responsible for up to 10 years for flaws due to inadequate supervision, incorrect instructions, or issues due to weak foundations such as subsidence.

Be aware that if you do encounter any problems, you will require a lot of patience and persistence before they will be resolved. When the building is completed, make sure it is checked by a structural surveyor for any faults and that a report is made which determines who is responsible.

Tips to prepare your house for real estate photography

Nowadays, a lot of home buyers start their search online. There are numerous websites on the internet that list properties and their features. Potential buyers are able to get the idea of the size, layout and the condition of the house even without stepping a foot at the property. If you are selling property online, stunning photos can attract potential buyers. Ensure that you have thoroughly prepared the property to get a perfect picture.

General guidelines

There are certain general guidelines that should be followed to ensure that the pictures of your house look beautiful. Good photos increase the likelihood of selling your property more quickly. If your listing looks professional, there is a possibility to sell your property even at a higher price.

Preparing your property before the photographer arrives helps to ensure that the pictures look good. You hire the photographer to make your property look good through the lens. Therefore, it is your job to clean the mess and put everything in place.

If you can, it is advisable to hire an interior designer to help you arrange the space. The final outcome of the photos looks great when a professional interior designer is involved.

On the other hand, if you can’t afford to hire an interior designer, there are several things you can do on your own to make the property look stunning. For instance, you can arrange the furniture and adjust the décor to make it look tastefully furnished.

Lasting impression

When you are arranging the furniture, you should understand that the first impression matters. You should create a lasting impression from the moment a person walks in the doorway. In most cases, the real estate photographer will take the photos from the doorway area. Make sure that the room is well lit. Also, arrange the elements in the room to correspond with the windows and doorways.

The photographer is likely to capture the windows because most people want to see whether the room is supplied with sufficient natural light or not. In addition, if there are other built-in features such as a fireplace, the photographer should include them in the photo.

Declutter the space

It is advisable to declutter every room to make the space more appealing. Get rid of extra elements that clutter the space. In doing so, you will make the room look generic and stylish.

Upcoming offplan projects such as the Emaar Beachfront and Dubai Creek Harbour feature properties with stunning interiors so that buyers don’t have to go through the hassles of making the property look good when selling.

The Success of Flipping Real Estate

The definition of real estate property flipping is when a real estate investor buys homes and then turns around to sell them hoping to make a profit. To see a positive gain, the time between purchasing the property and selling it can range from months up to a year. Being your own boss and having the freedom to invest in real estate with the hope of earning more than a 9 to 5 job is very enticing. Here are two types of real estate flipping options:

  1. An investor buys a property and fixes it up to make money from selling the home at a higher price than what they paid for it.
  2. An investor buys a piece of property as is at a time when there is a rapid rise in home values. They hold onto the real estate for a few months and then resell it at a higher price to make an increased profit margin.

Property flipping sounds like a great way to increase your income, but is it for you?  Of course, the right strategy plays a key role in the success of flipping. There is financial planning involving a capital gains tax, the right type of return you can expect, and choosing the right real estate.

Even though you are considering flipping a home, you should still conduct an inspection. Use an experienced contractor who can not only point out the obvious but who can also inform you of any hidden surprises once you begin a repair job. Whether you have real estate experience or you are an individual who flips properties for profit, please perform your due diligence.

In other words, before you purchase a flip property, ensure that the title is clear and free from liens. Work with a knowledgeable business planning and consulting firm with high-quality services for real estate investors and business owner resources.

To be a successful flipper, let’s follow the money. When you buy a real estate to flip and fix it up, the profit you receive is taxed under the capital gains rules. To be excluded from paying a capital gains tax, you can fix up your property and live in it for over two years because you are considered a homeowner.

As a flipped property, the IRS treats your real estate purchase as an inventory purchase and not a capital asset. Therefore, the IRS categorizes your flipped property profits as plain income that is subject to a self-employment tax. To enter the real estate game of property flipping, you must be aware of your upfront capitalized costs because it is a pricey expense before you make a good profit.

Your capital costs generally include the following:

*price of your real estate property

*upfront and indirect material and labor costs

*utility costs

*rent

*insurance

*production period interest for capitalizing costs in preparing a property for development and sale

Real estate taxes

If your flipped property is a rental, first you fix it up and then you hold it for a year which very likely will help negate your paying long-term capital gains taxes. Also, if you flip a home within one year, your gain is treated as a short-term capital gain which is taxed at your area’s lowest tax rate.

There are many reasons why people invest in flipping real estate properties. The TV flipping stars enjoy working with their creative hands, plus they have the money and time. If you want to make your flipping improvements a DIY project, you will save money of course, rather than hiring several home improvement contractors.

At the end of the day, whatever your reasons are for flipping real estate, know the rules of the game so that you don’t get stuck with lemons you can’t turn around and sell, thus spending more than your gain would have been.

Your key factors in flipping involve knowing your tax liabilities and purchasing costs, which means choosing the right properties, refurbishing costs, holding costs you can afford, and consult with experienced real estate flippers and business real estate consultants to save yourself an expensive headache.

Key Considerations Should You Wish to Buy a Home

Buying a home is something which many people look forward to for a very long time, the journey can be difficult and getting caught out in the rent trap is something that happens to many. With this being said, if you are smart with your savings and stay focussed on what it is that you are after, you can get yourself on the property ladder in no time at all.

I didn’t buy my first home until I was 26 years old and it was difficult for many years to get myself into a position to be able to afford it. I made some mistakes along the way to buying my first home and so I wanted to write a little about some key considerations which you are going to have to make once you have decided that buying a home is something that you want to do.

Budget

Most people are going to rely on a mortgage to buy their first home and it is best that you lay down as much as you can on the mortgage by way of deposit. In order to ascertain how much you are able to invest in your property, you need to make sure that you are smart with your budgeting.

It is important to remember just how many costs are involved in buying a home, aside from the value of the property itself. You will need to pay for searches before buying, you will need money for solicitors and the necessary conveyancing which allows you to complete the purchase as well as having money put aside for furniture and decorations within the home. It is also important  that you make a smart decision regarding how much you borrow as your monthly costs will increase once you are in the home, taking all of this into consideration is essential if you are planning on buying a house.

The Property

It can be easy to be blinded by beauty when you are searching for a property but you should sit down and make a list of exactly what it is that you are looking for in a property. Large properties require more maintenance and more furniture and they could also present more problems. Make sure that you understand that getting that dream house will not happen first time and your first house should be one which serves your needs and acts as a stepping stone to the next house, it is called the property ladder for a reason and this initial house is just the first rung of the ladder.

Market

It is important that you are buying a property at the right time and in the right place and you should make efforts to ensure that you understand where the property market is at the time of buying. If you are buying at the high end of the market then you could face negative equity issues further on down the line, unless you are in a rush you should be smart and be patient.

Best neighborhoods in Miami to buy a home

The last few years have cemented what many have been thinking: the real estate market in the Miami area is back with a vengeance. With Florida mortgages still being relatively affordable compared to where they were before the 2008 crash, now is the time to get in before things get crazy again.

With plenty of homes in desirable neighborhoods below their historical value, now is the time to stop renting and start building some equity in one of the most dynamic cities in the Americas.

If you are ready to put some skin into the property investing game, here are some neighborhoods where you should begin your search.

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1) North Miami Beach

Undoubtedly, Miami Beach is one of Greater Miami’s most glamorous spots. However, many buyers looking to invest in the real estate market in Miami erroneously assume they could never afford to put a down payment on a shoebox there, let alone a condo.

While this might be true in South Beach and Miami Beach proper, the city of North Miami Beach is home to developments that are more accessible to the entry-level real estate investor.

Located on the Intracoastal Waterway across from the northern reaches of Miami Beach, you won’t be far from the hottest action this area has to offer, but you’ll get to come home to a quiet, established neighborhood filled with long-time residents.

Around home, you’ll have easy access to Miami’s Chinatown, situated between 163rd and 167th Street on the west end of town and filled with plenty of amazing dining and shopping options from the Far East.

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2) Coconut Grove

Looking to get value for your real estate dollar? If you aren’t opposed to buying previously owned homes, investing in Coconut Grove might be a good move for you.

As the oldest neighborhood in Miami, and the historic center of this city’s counterculture movement, this place has an interesting backstory to it.

Today, it is one of the most sought after addresses in the city, as it is close to downtown, a number of glitzy high rise developments have broken ground here in recent years, it has marinas filled with expensive yachts, as well as a downtown filled with trendy businesses.

The newer properties may be out of reach, but there are plenty of bungalows from the 60s and 70s and condos that may work for your budget if you act fast.

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3) Wynwood

Want to live downtown? Out of all the options available, Wynwood is the one that has the perfect combination of amenities, value for money, and a location that puts you within a healthy stroll from Miami’s CBD.

With over 70 art galleries and frequent on-street art installations throughout the year, culturally-attuned individuals will love living in this part of Miami.

Additionally, with plenty of trendy microbreweries and restaurants, you won’t ever be left wanting for innovative food and drink options, which is good news for those days when you don’t feel like cooking.