Updated: a day ago
Guidebook series for safe and successful purchasing
You want to buy a second or maybe first home on Mallorca? A flat in the middle of bustling and beautiful Palma? Or a finca in the countryside? Making Pleasure Not Frustration! I would like to give you a few tips to make your purchase successful and safe so that desire does not turn into frustration! This section deals with everything you need to consider when viewing and inspecting the property. Next time there will be some legal and fiscal explanations about the procedure in Spain.
Of course, buyers are occasionally taken for a ride. Many actually buy spontaneously on holiday. They have never studied locations, construction methods or the market beforehand. And were just a little too euphoric to take the purchase as seriously as is necessary anywhere in the world. They say they wouldn't have liked it at home. That's probably true, but it wasn't the place, it was the approach. If you don't want your shopping frustration to turn into buying frustration, you need to take a few things to heart and also take a few days to organise things successfully and safely.
"that certain something"
It's a relatively difficult point to grasp. You mainly have to feel it. At most viewings, I think about what price I could actually rent at. And see the advantages and disadvantages of the property. I usually find it too expensive. And ponder. These viewings take time. Because I'm basically always looking for points that are a showstopper or allow me to make a higher offer.
But then there are these objects. I go into them and know: this is it. And I can't even tell you why! Often the floor plans have to be rearranged later. Or it's in terrible condition. But I don't know why: it fits. And so far I have never been wrong. For lack of a better classification, I call this factor "that certain something" and have simply included it in the evaluation forms.
"Location, location and location"
Basically, I don't have to explain it any further. Just two remarks: There are often micro-locations that are particularly good. Or particularly bad.
I always take a close look at the few streets in the neighbourhood. I look at how well-kept the windows of the surrounding houses are. What do the courtyards look like, do the doorbells look well-kept? That can devalue what is actually a good location.
No pains, no gains!
Visit in the evening. Or at the weekend. And maybe early in the morning. There are absurd things, but they can be brutally annoying. Like the club that's only open at weekends, which you thought was an old, romantically shabby warehouse. Or the posh residential district of Son Vida, where the main access road is virtually blocked when Palma's big schools start or finish classes. For anyone who doesn't have to drive children to school themselves, it doesn't matter! For parents who live here, a high frustration factor. And yes, a successful and secure purchase of your Mallorca property costs a little more effort.
Views. Fantastic views. Insights.
Look out of every window. Lean out. Look all around. Then you will also see if there are any drip edges. Or cracks. Or strange traces in the plaster that indicate problems. But above all, you see if you like what you see. And the house is not just a window with a sea view. A successful purchase is made when you can be sure that you really like your Mallorca property.
Question the floor plans! What would you see from where, if this wall was no longer there or thereabouts? And how would you like that? Or where could you create a beautiful and special view, e.g. through simple gardening measures? A lemon tree in front of the bathroom window makes every stay there somehow more beautiful! Because that's what you and we imagine Mallorca to be.
I love views! I've never bought a Mallorca property that didn't have enchanting views in some way. And that's why I can rent them out safely and successfully. So that desire does not turn into frustration!
The location is on its way, that's for sure!
Then there are the so-called expectation layers. I've heard about many of the more notorious neighbourhoods here, they're going strong. That's a safe buy, that "others" are super successful with.
I've been hearing that for ten years. And not much has happened there. Be really careful there.
We are talking about real estate here because it is standing around immobile. At least they should. And you can't change that. Here we come back to the situation. But also to the topic of "common property", which in Spanish is the comunidad. It has become a compulsory part of a block of flats. And as is always the case, there are such and such co-owners. So always have the minutes checked. Ask for the "presidente", that's the poor devil who usually takes care of all the formalities free of charge and tries to collect the missing payments from the others. And that brings us to the next point: are all payments up to date? Are there special things that are planned? Major renovations? Conversions? And is the seller still taking care of that? This then leads on to the second point, namely
This includes, when buying an apartment for eexample, façade elements, where a comunidad can be very very stuffy. If your neighbours find the wonderful white plastic windows in a round arch look beautiful, then they do.
If the ceiling height seems low to you before a conversion, think carefully about whether it will be even worse after your conversion.
Some decades simply had poor ceiling heights. And if you then want to install underfloor heating, you'll lose about 10 cm. And if the ceiling is not already suspended, they will want to take at least 30 cm out of your back for that. Because you need space for the air-conditioning system, which may still be missing. And both the underfloor heating and the air conditioning make sense! We often have a very humid climate here, so the pleasure of warm weather quickly turns into frustration. Because the heat can become unbearable, especially in August.
Depending on when the houses were built, there are a few critical materials and construction methods:
A really beautiful stone, but unfortunately it has more the characteristics of a relatively stable sponge. In the Franco era, local materials had to be used, so you will still come across it a lot until the mid-70s. And: I have already experienced developers in the luxury segment who simply instructed their Eastern European construction crew to close the Marés with plasterboard. This lasts at least beyond the warranty period, until the moisture has penetrated and the buyer sees that he has purchased a luxury property in need of renovation at a completely overpriced price.
Something like a foundation does not exist in every building. And insulation against rising damp was only prescribed by building standards at the beginning of the 2000s. But I've seen a lot of houses where the insulation (which is really cheap to build) was simply forgotten. But please ask a good expert. Or at least buy a surface tester like the one in the picture below and check the walls. From the inside. A good hand's breadth above the floor. And even higher. If there are any abnormalities, call in the expert at the latest. But not the one the estate agent recommends, ask Google!
Aluminosis or Fiebre del hormigon
So mainly in the 60s to 80s, aluminium particles were added to the concrete. I have no clue why, if anyone knows, please write to me! And unfortunately, it has the property of developing this building pathology, which can mainly massively reduce the strength of the material. In German it is called Aluminose. Check out, if you're interested, this website, they explain it quite well. And it's super critical. It's all fixable somehow. But it's super expensive. Terrible for the ceiling heights, which are usually poor in this construction period.
If this pathology is suspected: Check!!! If the result is positive: Hands off! We are clearly moving from pleasure to frustration! Only if your heart is completely attached to this one house. And you can afford and want to behave uneconomically: have an architect calculate the renovation and, to be on the safe side, add a 30% buffer.
The most difficult issue in my opinion! As soon as you really want to change a lot, we will probably end up in an "Obra Mayor". That's what the Spanish call a "real building site", where structure or volume is also changed. And when you apply for it, the current building law applies. And that tends to be more restrictive today than when your house was built. So you would rebuild things illegally. Often because many people involved still advise it. As long as no volumes are increased or it is not visible from the outside, it might work. But if you want to sell your dream castle, buyers find that less and less attractive. Because they also want to acquire their Mallorca property without frustration and enjoy it with pleasure. In the past, this was "normal". Today it is demolished. In the meantime, more than 50 houses per year on Mallorca. Let yourself be advised by an architect who was not recommended by the developer and also not by your estate agent.
"A pool is always ok"
"A pool can be built there". Or even better: "The water depot can be converted, that won't cause any problems". Or: "You can put a garage back there in the forest. Basically, assume that more than the existing property is often not possible. Because your seller has probably already exhausted everything that is possible. Or even more.
Exactly the same with the cellars. The cellars are usually not illegal. Or only partially. But especially their use as bedrooms, home cinemas, fitness rooms, spa areas etc. often is in rural areas. And sometimes a window or two. Or even the volume. Now you can say when buying: I don't care if someone notices, I can do without it if necessary. That may frustrate me. But it's not dramatic. Fine! This point can be comparatively harmless and happens often. But when essential spaces are among these illegal uses, the frustration potential increases. Because a safe and successful resale can at least be impaired.
What is important to you and what you cannot change should fit! You must have the changes you want to make checked. And the inventory too! Both technically. And also legally.
So, in the next part of this little series, we'll talk about how you can find your dream property in the first place. And later, we will deal a little more with the purchase process and, very superficially, with possible tax consequences. Then I'll look for guest authors, because even in Spain not everyone is allowed to give unrestricted advice in every professional field. And I am neither a civil engineer, nor a lawyer, nor a tax consultant. These are just a few practical experiences I would like to share with you.
I hope this was sufficiently informative and I look forward to your feedback! Feel free to ask questions and criticise me in the comments section below!