Spain and its forgotten heritage
Driving past the new flyover being built in Arboleas near the Industrial Estate on Thursday it was such a shame to see the beautiful cortijo had been demolished. The farmhouse had sat there solidly amongst all the road works for an age and naively I hoped it may remain as a monument and talking point. I suppose it’s gone now because those in higher authority thought it may spoil the look of the new motorway. No Angel of the North or similar for Arboleas then.
Funnily enough it looks like the work was done in the dead of night as by 10am the house had vanished with not a wooden beam or stone left to show that there had once been a lovely farmhouse there. In the UK for better or worse there are controls in place to preserve Britain’s architectural heritage. Buildings are listed and then and given either a 1,2 or 3 grade depending on whether the whole or certain parts of the building must be protected.
In Spain there no such foresight as far as I know– rip it down and put up yet another block of apartments or in this case a motorway flyover. Driving through our beautiful region is a great perk of being an estate agent in this area. I visit many interesting places but there often seems to be beautiful buildings just rotting. Huercal Overa for instance there is the once beautiful coloured building in its own grounds opposite the theatre. Another one is in the Square nearby off Calle Cura Valera which is surrounded by horrible blue scaffolding – and I think I saw in the Spanish press this week it’s in danger of collapsing.
For many years we Brits and our Northern European neighbours have been buying up Spain’s architectural heritage in the form of old farmhouses and the like. These buildings are then lovingly restored so preserving them for future generations. It’s a strange situation indeed when so many old Spanish buildings are now in foreign hands. Most have used their hard earned cash to restore these buildings, which on balance seems to be better than accepting grants from any agency looking at the horrible way lots of houses have recently been updated by the local councils – what is it about UPVC windows that our host nation just loves. With no listing categories there seems to be only one class of reform and that’s to modernise and destroy any original features.
Industrial heritage too seems to be just left to decay; there are many old wheal houses and water culverts, old cable car workings, disused railway lines etc. just left to rot. Especially around Bedar, Villaricos and Garrucha there are remnants of the industries that once were the lifeblood of the region. I found an interesting website the other day about it all – http://www.faydon.com/Bedar/Bedar.html
The last few weeks have seen a veritable flood of clients visiting the area and all too often I write about what owners can do to help us agents sell their homes. One great tip is to let the client into your house in the first place!!! Obvious really one would think. A colleague tells me that recently an owner said they were too busy to tidy up even though they had been given a weeks notice so the agent was told they would just have to show the client the house from the garden and then if they liked it to make another appointment. The client rightly said ‘how the hell do I know whether I want to see the inside just from looking at the garden?’
A good agent if they like your house and think it’s sensibly priced will do what they can to sell it – as if we don’t sell we don’t eat. Quite a simple equation really… Clients often end up buying a house that they never asked about in the first place especially if the agent has listened to their needs. Clients ask to view properties based on the photos they have seen on the internet. Only the agent knows the real story and so a house that to a client may look great when they are sitting in an office on a rainy day in the UK may in fact to turn out to be completely unsuitable for them once they arrive in our sunny neck of the woods. Local knowledge is very important so chose an agent that knows the area well. Agents will normally collaborate with other agents and so if your house is particularly good value and something special they will share the details with their colleagues so giving the owner greater exposure.
Before picking an agent to market your property ask them what other agents they work with as then you will get a picture of how and where they cross market. Find out where they advertise – do they regularly advertise in the local press for instance, what websites they pay to advertise on. Another tip is to ask what lawyer the agent recommends their buying clients to use. If you are unhappy with their recommended lawyer then maybe use another agent who uses a lawyer that you are more comfortable with. Selling property nowadays is a potential minefield and so as a seller you must be confident that whoever buys your house is going to be properly legally represented to avoid any pitfalls in the future.
When a buyer is found normally a 3000 holding deposit is paid by the buyer to secure the property whilst legal checks are made. This deposit is best kept safe by the lawyer not the agent so as to avoid any unpleasantness in the future should the buyer be advised to pull out. The 10% when paid by the buyer should go the seller – so again make sure the money is sent via the lawyer not the agent involved.
Building work too – agents often have their preferred contractor but if you intend to do any work on a property then get more than one quote, and make sure at least one is from someone completely independent of the agent. Make sure that your builder is legally entitled to work in Spain and paying their IVA and NIE as otherwise you have no comebacks in case of complaint. Always ask to see examples of their work and to speak to previous clients of theirs. I remember once being shown an entire house that had been supposedly reformed by a certain rogue – turned out the client had thrown him off site months ago but he had kept a key so could still get into the house. Needless to say he never got the job that he was pitching for.