Sunday, August 12, 2012

Another Almerian Road-Show

Almería's promoters are worried about the high number of homes on their books and have decided, crisis or no crisis, that it is time to get the gosh-darned Government involved in selling those homes to foreigners.
Thus, together with the national Asociación de Promotores y Constructores de España, they want the gummint to organise a 'macro road show' in foreign parts. There are, we are told by La Voz de Almería, some 25,000 viviendas for sale in this province alone.
Now, news flash for the promoters, bankers and politicians: foreigners don't buy homes or apartments in the big cities. There are no Brits living in Almería DF, Dalías or El Ejido - they would like to live in the smaller towns, villages and pedaneos in the hinterlands or on the coast. Of course, having seen the TV programs  and read the newspaper articles in the British, German and Norwegian media about how the Junta de Andalucía likes to wait until a foreigner has bought his house before declaring the structure illegal and worthless as an investment (there are over 250,000 such properties in Andalucía, mainly owned by European foreigners who stupidly thought that Spain lived by the 'rule of law'), sales are decidedly sloppy. Yes, Andalucía is an excellent place to retire to, and the move is a definite win/win for all concerned, with the new residents pumping in foreign funds twelve months a year, creating jobs, repopulating dying villages and improving their surroundings; but there is a firm and powerful rejection from the environmentalist lobby - that group of city-folk who presume to know about the countryside and are as impervious to criticism as was the Spanish inquisition in its day.
The reasons offered by La Voz for the drop in sales of these 'second homes' - and presumably echoed by the building community - include 'la crisis', tax relief and encouragements which have now been removed by the Partido Popular, the rise in IVA (well done those politicians!) and the staggering 35% unemployment in Almería - all of which are small beer compared with the summary illegalisation of most foreign-owned property across the region.
In brief, Andalucía has its post-dated 'illegal homes', Murcia its valueless bank guarantees on unfinished off-plan sites and Valencia, when the times are good, its Land Grab. Don't buy in Spain.
There are many foreigners, Europeans who should have certain rights as agreed at Maastricht, yet treated as extranjeros by the Spanish authorities (I must show you my residence card one day), who would like to live in Spain. It should be the European equivalent to Florida - wealthy and comfortable. Some foreigners, attracted by Spain's vibrant and fascinating culture, would disappear into Madrid, Granada and Seville; but we are concerned here with the majority - who want sun, peace and to drink a cool glass of wine as they sit in their garden and watch the sunset.
'We must regain our judicial reputation abroad', says José Manuel Galindo, the director of the Almerian promoters and builders association with a blindness little short of breathtaking. He's got 25,000 empty homes in Almería alone - and a hell of a lot of unpaid and anxious brick-layers, carpenters, marble-workers, electricians, plumbers, painters and gardeners to look out for. Plus any number of realtors, agents, lawyers, bankers and municipal tax collectors hoping that he can pull a rabbit out of his sombrero. But he can't, because the foreign media doesn't want its readers and viewers hightailing off to Spain, and as far as the media is loyal to its consumers (rather than its customers), it doesn't like to see people being stung.
If he could get the Junta de Andalucía's department of viviendas y obras públicas to pay compensation to Helen and Len Prior for having their house in Vera summarily demolished in January 2008 (they have lived amongst the ruins ever since), then maybe that might send a signal to the Northern Europeans.
Until then... there's always Cyprus.

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