More than just an estate agent…

I’ve never liked the term ‘estate agent’. There are far too many negative stereotypes associated with it. I am not that person. So I was delighted to read this piece written by some Danish clients of mine and find that they had coined a new title for me. Ambassador? I’ll take that…. :-)

Read their beautifully written story here – and get inspired!

IMG_20170313_120552_730

 

We are Signe, Tarje and Roar, Danes and recent homeowners in the rocky part of Asturias; Quiros. We met Mary more or less by chance after having spent half a year on the road with our baby Roar. Before that we were working as respectively an academic and a nurse, but we have always had that nagging feeling that fulfilling the ideals of society was properly not the road to meaningful and happy lives for us. The courage to do something about it, however, only came with parenthood. And while it does take a lot of courage to break away from your routine, we have learned along the way that the shackles don’t just fall off simply because you start to rattle.

We had an idea that we wanted to find a place in Catalunya – and start building towards self-sustainability. However, while Spain is littered with old ruins in need of love – finding a suitable one for sale turned out to be an insurmountable task. While we liked the experience, Catalunya seem to be hit hard by drought-spells and increasing heat – and didn’t really feel like home to us. With a few rock climbing images from Asturias, our heads turned west, and the lushness here immediately felt right.

It is only after you have gone through the process yourself you realize how much work Mary has put into finding properties suitable for expats. Mary calls herself an estate agent, but we feel a more descriptive title would be ambassador. Of course she runs a business, but you can immediately tell her main focus isn’t improving her own margins, but bridging the substantial cultural gap it is for northern Europeans to buy property in Spain.

One show of the abandoned village Eros – halfway up a mountain – and we were sold. We are now a few months in, the house seems to have stopped crumbling down – the once omnipresent brambles are starting to reappear less and less and we are making the first moves at making our house liveable and our garden edible.

Sun and ski – a February half-term holiday in Asturias

If you’re a regular reader of our blog you may already have met Mick Wyldbore-Wood as he previously shared his experience of buying a house through us. Well, it’s not quite a year since he completed his purchase and last week I was thrilled to see via Facebook just how much he and his family are enjoying their new property in Asturias.

A half-term break in February might not sound like the most promising time for a holiday in northern Spain but parents can’t be choosers. The Wyldbore-Woods are an intrepid bunch anyway and wouldn’t let the potential for some wintry weather put them off – in fact, they came fully equipped for skiing and hoping for snow. The mountains didn’t let them down and they managed to check out the three (yes, three!) nearest ski stations on different days and much to the kids’ delight.

Best of all they got to intersperse their days skiing with days at the beach soaking up some glorious winter sun in temperatures akin to a fine British summer’s day. With the mountains and the sea within an hour and a half’s drive of each other in Asturias, it’s a great combination for active holidaymakers. It’s even perfectly possible to ski and surf in the same day if you’re feeling particularly energetic!

It certainly means you can cram an awful lot into a relatively short holiday and that’s before we mention the wonderful regional cuisine. Mick and Claire were lucky enough to sneak in a romantic Valentine’s dinner at the Michelin-starred El Corral del Indianu in Arriondas. Definitely one for the bucket list.

Big thanks to the Wyldbore-Woods for sharing their fab video of their half-term break in Asturias with us! How much does it make you want your own holiday home in Asturias?!

Latest Client Testimonial

*To access listings from a mobile scroll down and click ‘view full site’*

Dave and Anna Renner are a young British couple who got in touch with me in autumn last year looking for assistance in finding their ideal property here in northern Spain. They had already been searching for some time when they had the good fortune to meet some former clients of mine who are currently renovating a house they bought through me in Cantabria and they recommended they contact me.

Cordillera Cantabrica mountains in central Asturias

Dave and Anna fell in love with views like this in the mountains of central Asturias

Below, in their own words, is the Renner’s experience of house-hunting with Spanish Property North.

Mary made our property search relaxed and enjoyable, when previously it had been quite a frustrating process. She had a long discussion with us about our requirements, and had a good knowledge of our search area, meaning she was able to quickly narrow down the search to properties that matched our criteria and budget. Unlike some agents we had worked with in the UK, she didn’t waste time showing us unsuitable properties, and she was also very easy to contact and get information from. We were looking at properties all over Asturias, and Mary took loads of time driving out to meet us at various remote locations to investigate potential purchases. Once we’d decided on a property she managed everything to make the actual purchase process easy. She also acted as our translator with the Notary and the Vendor during the completion meeting, making sure we understood the contract and patiently going over clarifications and corrections to the deeds. She was really great with little details that might have tripped us up, like helping us get our NIEs and making sure we opened a non-resident rather than resident bank account, which would have caused problems on completion day. Overall it was a really positive experience and if you are looking for property in the area we would definitely recommend contacting Spanish Property North.

Dave and Anna Renner

The Brexit Effect

flag of Europe

Brexit. The B word that is on everybody’s minds right now, especially any Brit who is living in or considering a move to a European country. It’s hardly surprising then that a number of clients have asked me to write an article on the potential effects of a British exit from the European Union. So here’s my two (euro) cents’ worth.

The first thing to say is that nobody really knows exactly what’s going to happen with Brexit. Least of all, it would seem, the British government. Just yesterday Britain’s ambassador to the European Union and one of their most experienced EU diplomats resigned amidst a row over his candid observations that Brexit negotiations could take as long as 10 years.

This thing could run and run. In the meantime, there’s really no point in getting bogged down in pointless speculation but there are some things that we do know for sure and which I’ll try and outline here.

I can tell you for one that currently Brexit is, somewhat counter-intuitively, serving to give a push to my core market as Brits rush to get themselves established in Spain before Brexit kicks in, in whatever format it ends up taking. Many people who may have been dreaming for years of a move to Spain have suddenly found their plans firmly shoved from the back burner to the front as they see the possibility of their dreams being snatched away from them by external forces.

For the Brits who are already here and legally resident it is likely that not a huge amount will materially change although there will almost certainly be more bureaucratic hoops to jump through.

Facts for residents:
– if you have been legally resident in Spain for ten years or more you can apply for Spanish citizenship. (Note, Spain doesn’t recognise dual nationality although Britain does.)
– If you are an EU citizen who has been a legal resident for 5 years or more you have the right to permanent residency without any conditions.

EU nationals living in Spain are required to register with the Spanish authorities (Extranjería). This resident’s document has no expiry date on it and many Brits are now keen to get over here and get registered as an EU resident as soon as possible in order to try and protect their automatic rights to live and work here. It is possible that the rights of those already resident before Brexit takes place will be protected, plus the sooner you get registered as resident the sooner you start clocking up years of residency, accumulating rights and moving towards a position where you could apply for permanent residency or citizenship. That being said, until negotiations take place over the rights of EU citizens in Britain and vice versa we can’t know for sure what the outcome will be.

The right to buy property and the right to own a business are enshrined under international law and so will not be affected by an exit from the EU. 

The process for purchasing property in Spain is exactly the same for non-EU citizens as it is for EU ones. I have sold properties to South Africans, Americans, Brazilians and Australians as well as Europeans and it has been equally straightforward in all cases.

Where rights do differ is in the right to residency and to work. If we take the worst-case scenario and imagine a full-on hard Brexit, where Britain gives no quarter, leaves the single market and completely rejects free movement of labour then we would be looking at Brits having to go through the same processes as, say, an American citizen in order to obtain the right to live and work in Spain.

The thing to remember is that Americans and other non-EU citizens can and do manage to get work and residency permits for Spain. It may be a convoluted and time-consuming process but it is do-able and there is help out there. Sites like Spain Guru provide great advice on the processes that non-EU citizens need to go through in order to live and work legally in Spain.  Check out their article on the main routes to getting a work-permit in Spain here.

As many of my clients are entrepreneurial types with aspirations to develop a business or work on a freelance basis here in Spain I know that the self-employment (or autónomo) option and that of owning a business will be of particular interest. Other routes to residency are also available however, such as a non-lucrative residency visa if you have funds to support yourself and do not need to seek employment in Spain – I have some South-African clients who now live here on this basis, for example.

So those are the worst-case, hardest-Brexit scenarios. As I said at the start though, we don’t know when or how Brexit will really happen and it’s not something that we have any control over. The bottom line is that if you really want to move to Spain then you need to find a way to make it work for you. And you will.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Happy New Year!

mountain view in Asturias

It’s January 1st 2017 and this is the view I’ve woken up to. Today the choice is between mountains or beach and my seven year old has spoken and decided on a hike and a bike ride, so mountains it is. The sun is shining and the sky is blue, as they have been all of this Christmas holiday. I could not be happier with where I live. Will 2017 be the year you make a move and seek out your own piece of paradise?

Wishing you health and happiness for the new year.

 

Renovating and Letting a Holiday Cottage in Asturias

For a lot of our clients the dream is to buy a traditional property and renovate it, often with the aim of ending up with some tourist accommodation to let out as well as a family home. It’s a dream we can relate to perfectly, having started out from that very same place ourselves over 11 years ago. It’s also a dream we can help turn into reality as we’ve done exactly that for ourselves several times over as well as helping countless clients along the path to their own little piece of paradise.

If you’d like to know a little more about our own latest renovation project and the resulting holiday rental then check out this neat video we made. There’s some pretty cool drone footage of the mountains of Central Asturias in here as well as shots of our traditional Asturian house and holiday rental and some talking heads interview with us, as well as our ‘celebrity’ guests, North Face athletes and world-class rock climbers Caroline Ciavaldini and James Pearson.

And, of course, if you’d like to find out more about the realities of buying, renovating and renting out property here in Asturias then please do get in touch!

Brexit and the Pound – Information and Advice

Our colleagues at Hifx International Payments have been very busy of late with all the market fluctuations and uncertainty surrounding Brexit but they have found time to issue some helpful information and advice for customers who need to make transfers abroad; whether for a one-off house purchase, payment of building costs, or regular transfer of pension or salary into euros.

We’ve reprinted their advice below so you can find out how best to insulate yourself from any Brexit fallout.

 

What impact is Brexit having on the Pound?

 

It’s been just over a week now since the surprise announcement that Britain had voted to leave the EU. Since then, there have been a number of movements in the Pound in both directions. While there have been lots of headlines about the Pound rising or falling, it’s worth remembering that we are still at the beginning of a long journey and it’s likely that there will be a more fluctuations – both up and down – along the way as markets react to each new development.

 

We’ve taken a look at some of the events that have impacted the Pound so far and looked forward to the events that may have an influence in the coming weeks.

 

The reaction so far;

 

It’s been a very busy period for the Pound. It was steadily climbing against the Dollar in the week leading up to the referendum but fell to a 31 year low once the results were announced, followed by a couple of ups and downs as the markets digested the news. A weaker pound is great news for any overseas investors looking to invest in UK property as it can mean substantial discounts in cost. Below is a chart which shows the difference in cost for £1,000,000 property between the highs and lows of the past 2 weeks;

 

 

  High Low Potential Saving
USDGBP $1,500,555 $1,314,698 $185,857
EURGBP €1,313,698 €1,185,396 €128,302
SGDGBP SG2,005,696 SG$1,781,864 SG$223,832
HKDGBP HK$11,640,088 HK$10,203,040 HK$1,437,048
AEDGBP AED5,511,768 AED4,828,818 AED682,950

 

 

GBPUSD Referendum

 

So what have been the main factors affecting these movements?

 

Throughout the referendum campaign period, the Pound generally tended to rise if opinion polls were in favour of Remain and fall if they showed a lead for Leave. On voting day, both the final opinion polls and the betting odds were suggesting that a vote to remain in the EU was most likely, causing the Pound to climb to 1.50 against the Dollar, the highest it has been so far in 2016.

 

This changed rapidly when the first results started to come through, as they suggested that Remain had not done as well as expected. The Pound continued to fall through early Friday morning, falling as low as 1.33, the lowest level since 1985. But after the initial shock, the markets did start to stabilise.

 

Throughout Monday and Tuesday, the initial signs were that the market was starting to recover from the shock, as both the FTSE 100 and the Pound started to rise again. But markets then became more nervous again on Thursday, when the Bank of England suggested that some monetary stimulus was likely to be necessary over the summer.

 

The situation has been broadly similar for the Pound against the Euro. However, it has been slightly complicated by the fact that the European markets were also influenced by the referendum result. This means that, comparatively, some of the fluctuations between the Pound and the Euro have been less severe than between the Pound and the Dollar:

 

GBPEUR Referendum

 

What will happen next?

 

The reaction so far has shown that the Pound is currently in a volatile position. Each piece of breaking news can have a short term effect on its value, but the longer term picture is currently much harder to predict as there simply isn’t enough information at this point.

 

But there are a few key events to look out for that may have an impact:

  • More economic data: this should start to come through in late July and it might provide a clearer picture of how the UK has been affected by the referendum result.
  • Monetary policy action from the Bank of England: Mark Carney has given a clear signal that the Bank of England will be looking at how they can try to offset some of the negative economic shock that they expect to see following the referendum result, possibly this month.
  • New Conservative leader: a removal in uncertainty could cause the Pound to rise, but it may depend on who is chosen. For example, the Pound briefly rose when Boris Johnson announced he wouldn’t be standing in the leadership election.
  • Article 50 triggered: a delay in this could cause the markets to become nervous again due to the ongoing uncertainty, which may cause the Pound to gradually decline.
  • New trading deals: if it appears these will be favourable for the UK, the Pound is likely to rise. But delays in negotiations or negative sentiment from Europe could have the opposite effect.

 

How can you prepare?

 

The good news is that, whatever happens next, there are a few options for you to consider that could help to reduce the risk of currency fluctuations.

 

If you spot a favourable rate, we also have a couple of ways to help you take advantage of this. If you know you have a single large payment coming up, such as a property purchase, you could set up a forward contract. This allows you to buy currency at the current rates, but pay for the majority of it up to two years later.

 

If you need to make regular transfers, such as for a mortgage or a pension, we can help you set up a regular payment plan. This automates your payments and secures the current exchange rate for up to two years.

 

If you’d like to keep an eye on exchange rates, we can help you. On our Marketwatch page, you can watch the market trends or sign up for daily rate alerts on a range of our most popular currencies. If you sign up for a HiFX account, you will also have the option to set up personalised rate alerts, which will let you know when your target currency hits your desired rate.

 

Whatever your international payment needs, HiFX is on hand to help. If you’d like to find out more, please call our friendly experts at your local Spanish office 0034 951 203 986 or email costadelsol@hifx.co.uk

 

Buying a House in Asturias – One Buyer’s Story

It’s great to hear feedback from happy clients and, quite apart from blowing our own trumpet, sharing it helps give an unbiased insight into how the whole process of buying a property in northern Spain works from a buyer’s perspective. So, here in his own unedited words, is the experience of Mick Wyldbore-Wood. Mick is a fireman from Derbyshire, dedicated family man and has previously completed the gruelling Marathon des Sables. To that list of achievements he can now add the purchase of a holiday home in Asturias. Let the new adventure begin!
Mick about to embark on his adventure in the Marathon des Sables

Mick about to embark on his adventure in the Marathon des Sables

‘I had spent more hours than I should have browsing the Internet and looking into Northern Spain after a Galician friend of mine insisted that, due to my love of the outdoors and adventure, I should check it out. During my research I kept getting pulled towards Asturias with its plethora of beaches and rugged coastline, mountains, ski slopes, national parks, rivers and culture. It was then that I stumbled across www.spanishpropertynorth.com and first contacted Mary. I had been shocked by the value and prices of properties available, even more so realising that by taking a risk I could get a loan to buy a property out there, but things would be tight! So, I took the leap and got in touch. Now, buying a property is daunting but buying overseas was terrifying. What are the processes involved? What do I need to do? Who do I trust?? I decided to make a trip out there and see several contacts that I’d got from the Internet, that way I could assess them face to face and make a few viewings of available properties. That was a mixed trip and I experienced the whole range really, property agents who were really helpful and took me around helping communication right through to people who actually never showed up but just arranged meetings with local estate agents who spoke no English at all, leaving me neck deep in unfamiliar waters! Amongst it all was Mary Ryan, thankfully! I explained my very tight budget, my wishes of what I needed from a property and how me and my family would be using the place. She listened, was really understanding and chose a handful of places that she thought would suit. We spent a day where she drove me around Asturias showing me places, talking to owners and generally gave me a lot of information on the area. She even showed me her home and introduced me to her husband, Richie, and their son. I knew right away that I had found a real gem who would help me through the process, but not just to sell a property but because she wanted to help me make it all work out for me and my family. She was someone I could trust and the value of that is immeasurable! Mary showed me the picturesque hillside village of Torazo and a lovely little cottage. I fell in love straight away but it needed a little work and was just out of my budget. I returned home despondent and a while went by. I had almost given up, deciding that my budget was just too small, but the house reduced in price, almost to within my reach and so I took a punt. I contacted Mary again explained my thoughts and asked her if she would make a cheeky offer. I don’t know what kind of voodoo she did but she negotiated with a whole extended family of owners and managed to get them to agree! I visited again a few weeks later and Mary babysat me through the whole process of getting my NIE sorted, bank accounts opened she even educated me on currency exchange sites to ensure I got the best rates. She has helped with everything, been on hand for any questions I had and it’s fair to say that I simply couldn’t have bought my house without her, especially when the negotiations became difficult due to internal family politics with the sellers!! I can happily say now that I am the proud owner of a little place in Torazo and I love it! You’d think that’s where Things end with Mary, right? No, like I said she really does more than just sell you a place she makes it work for you. She even sorted out my electricity supplier after I had trouble doing it from the UK. In short I have found in Mary somebody who I can trust, a woman with a genuine desire to help people fulfil their dreams of owning a home in Asturias and somebody I can now call a friend. If you are considering buying a place of your own you’d simply be foolish not to speak to Mary. I cannot recommend her highly enough. She’s great at what she does and she helps you at every turn. Thanks for everything Mary xxx’
Mick about to embark on his latest adventure in Asturias

Mick about to embark on his latest adventure in Asturias

Mick has also very kindly said that if anyone reading this is thinking of buying a property in northern Spain and would like to get in touch with him for more first-hand help and insight into the process from a buyer’s perspective then he is happy to be emailed. Email us at info@spanishpropertynorth.com and we’ll put you in touch.

Property of the Month

We are often contacted by clients who have walked the Camino de Santiago and now wish to relocate to this beautiful part of northern Spain and to have the opportunity to offer accommodation to fellow pilgrims. The thing is it’s not actually that easy to find a property that meets their criteria. First off it needs to be within very close distance of the Camino – if you’re doing all that walking you’re going to be counting your steps to your accommodation just as carefully as the euros you spend on it. Secondly, any potential property purchase needs to have the space and potential to offer adequate development and space for pilgrims and thirdly, it needs to come in on a reasonable budget.

Sadly, often-times I find myself forced to tell would-be clients that we just don’t have anything suitable to offer them. Which is why I’m so excited about this particular property. A detached, stone-built house in habitable condition and with a ton of further development opportunity – a ground floor ‘llagar’ ripe for conversion, more outbuildings and a further 2,500m2 of buildable land, all within 1km of the Camino in a tranquil location with stunning views to the Sueve mountain.

All in all a very special property and a wonderful opportunity for the right buyer(s).

Contact us to book a viewing.

Click to view the full property details

Detached house with barns, horreo and land

Detached house with barns, horreo and land

 

 

Latest Testimonial for Spanish Property North

Here at Spanish Property North we take great pride and satisfaction in the excellent service that we provide to our clients. Nothing makes us happier than seeing clients installed in the home of their dreams here in northern Spain, after a smooth and stress free house purchase. Here’s a personal insight into the process from another perspective, via a couple who recently celebrated the first anniversary of their house purchase here in Asturias.

After a 12 year search for a property in Northern Spain, we had all but given up hope of finding our ideal house. We had been close but there was either too much work needed or there was something just not quite right. We had found Spanish Property North through a search on the internet. In August 2014 we heard via an estate agent of a property in Asturias that on paper should have been ideal, in reality to was far from it. Fortunately we had contacted Mary before our visit so had arranged a meeting. From the outset we were impressed with Mary’s in depth knowledge of not just available properties but also her insights into the whole buying process, legal issues, costs, the process, very much the helping hand we needed. During our short visit Mary sent us some info on a house that we had seen on the internet before but had dismissed due to cost. The price had just recently been dropped to a point that it was now within budget, we loved it. Within 24 hours she had managed to arrange a meeting with the vendor and negotiations began in earnest. In early October we actually managed to rent the property for a couple of nights and Mary again arranged meetings and was able to find answers for us for those inevitable questions. By the end of our visit we had made an offer, by the end of October with Mary having arranged appointments for the all important NIE number, bank account, notary, we signed on the dotted line and we became the new owners of La Torea. I cannot recommend Mary and Spanish Property North more highly. Her help was invaluable and as the process went on we were ever more aware that we would not have been able to this without her. A massive thank you for all your help.’

Frank & Sue Hendre, Suffolk, UK / La Torea, Piloña, Asturias.

Frank and Sue's gorgeous home in northern Spain has spectacular views to the Picos mountains

Frank and Sue’s gorgeous home in northern Spain has spectacular views to the Picos mountains

Driving Over Apples

I read recently in El Pais in English (a great source for English-language news in Spain, btw) that Driving over Lemons author Chris Stewart is taking a sabbatical from his writing for a year in order to tackle problems with wild boar on his smallholding in southern Spain. This is a problem I am familiar with myself (they stole my potatoes the blighters!) and it is one of the (few) downsides of living in a wild and beautiful landscape.

Still, nothing that good fences can’t fix. And in the spirit of providing counter-balance to the bad news boar stories I thought I’d share this little video with you. It was taken around midnight on the way home from dinner a couple of Saturdays back. The quality is poor but the awww! factor is high.

 

Escape to the Continent

We’ve been really looking forward to watching the Asturias episode of BBC’s ‘Escape to the Continent’ since we helped the production team with filming last October. Yesterday our long wait came to an end and we have to say it was worth the wait. If you haven’t seen it already then check it out on BBC iplayer.

Magical morning views from one of the properties featured in the show

Magical morning views from one of the properties featured in the show

If you don’t know Asturias very well then it’s an excellent, highly visual introduction to the region as well as to the Asturian property market. If you’re already a fan of the area then you can just sit back and enjoy the spectacular scenery whilst keeping a beady eye out for places and people you recognize!

And if the show gets you itching to buy one of the properties featured I can tell you *SPOILER ALERT* that two of the properties are still available for sale. And one of them has just had a big price drop, making it even more attractive. Look away now if you don’t want to know which one 😉

Now on at €130,000!

Now on at €130,000! Eco water mill in Pilona Our reference MR340

If you want to know more about the water mill for sale near Sevares then click here. And if you’re hankering after those spectacular views of the Picos de Europa mountains that you got from the glass-fronted galeria of the house in Cabranes then*Update* This property has now sold!* Or if you’d like to find out more about any aspect of buying property in Asturias or the realities of life as an ex-pat here then do feel free to get in touch. We’re always happy to help!

Scroll Down And Click To View Full Site

If you’ve navigated to Spanish Property North on your smartphone then the mobile version of the site will have taken you here, to our blog. Don’t panic! The full site (with those all-important property listings) is still available to you. You just need to scroll right the way down to the bottom and click to view the full site.

Home page full site version

To browse listings you need to access the full site – scroll down to the bottom and click to view!

 

 

El Jardinero Inglés – The English Gardener

There was great excitement today at Spanish Property North headquarters when this large, purple truck pulled up at our door.

IMG_3089.JPGThe cavalry had arrived.

But before I explain, let me first tell you a cautionary tale of an over-optimistic, overly-romantic ex-pat, with eyes bigger than her belly, who took on too much land, with too little knowledge and quickly found herself in a pickle, with weeds and brambles threatening to consume all before them. Armed only with a whimsical scythe our heroine was quickly overwhelmed.

So I she did the obvious thing. Ignored it all. Gaining a permanent crick in her neck from avoiding looking at the disaster that was her hopefully envisioned garden field. The thing is, the climate in Asturias is perfect for growing. It really is. The only problem is that if you don’t plant up and manage your land cleverly then nature will take over. If you don’t decide what grows, then she will. And she does seem to have a perverse liking for brambles and nettles and other unpleasantries. Punishment for neglect, I guess.

The good news is that there is no need to suffer in this way. Help is at hand. If you, like I, don’t have the necessary tools, time or training to get the best out of your garden (or field!) you can do what I did and call in ‘El Jardinero Inglés‘ (The English Gardener – an added bonus for newly-arrived expats, the boss is English so no language difficulties to navigate).

I have to say, it’s one of those things you just wish you’d done sooner. I’ve seen that big, branded purple van knocking about for years now and yet it was only last week that I got around to ringing the number and asking for help. I think I thought they just specialized in bigger, posher jobs than mine. Turns out, if it’s a garden or growing related job then they can turn their hand to it. And all for a very reasonable price. Highly recommended.

Watch out for photos of my newly-scalped (and accessible!!) field coming soon to a social media account near you…

 

 

January Sales!

Well 2015 has got off to a flying start here at Spanish Property North. I don’t know whether it’s down to our constant hunt for the best properties to market combined with our excellent service or the fact that prices have fallen as low as they’re likely to or simply the strength of the pound to the euro, but we are currently swamped with buyers.

As ever, properties with lots of land are particularly popular, with many of our clients looking to escape from the stresses of city life and to live more in harmony with nature. The dream of self-sufficiency and low-impact living is alive and strong in the hearts and minds of those moving to Asturias, ‘el paraiso natural’. Properties like this one, with 2 hectares of land and the chance to buy more, plus various outbuildings ripe for conversion in addition to the main house, are generating lots of interest.

Stone built house and barn with 2 hectares of land

The house is fully renovated and has a secluded setting, 8km from the popular fishing port of Ribadesella

The architecturally typical Asturian house, stone and wood built with classical galeria or corredor, is also as popular as ever; particularly if it’s detached, with a garden, great views and great access, all at a very accessible price – like this gem, located in the natural reserve of the Sueve.

Typical traditional Asturian house for sale in Piloña

Gorgeous traditional Asturian house, ready to move into.

And then there’s the properties that have had their prices slashed to way below cost, making them unbeatable value, like this luxury villa in Galicia, on sale at half the original asking price. No wonder buyers are beating a path to our door!

Luxury villa for sale in Galicia

Luxurious top-quality villa set in 8,000m2 gardens

 

Treasure Chests and Story Books

I love houses. Lucky really, given my job. I love the glimpses they give you into the lives lived within their walls, the histories created there and the views looked out upon over the years. Architecture, objects, landscapes all come together in a property to shape and illustrate cultures, communities and personalities.

Treasure chest, in the attic of a house in Quiros

Treasure chest, in the attic of a house in Quiros

With older houses in particular you’ll often stumble across pieces that speak volumes. Objects that make you want to run your hand along them, to hold that touch for a moment, pause and listen. As though it might be possible to feel history vibrate through a cool palm held on ancient hand-carved wood. Like this wooden chest that I found last week in the attic of a house in Quiros. What treasures had it stored down through the years?

Or these madrenas, found in an alcove of the same house. What paths did they once tread? Whose feet encase? When was it that they were shelved for the last time?

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A solid oak beam stands in the roof of the long-abandoned house. The light filtering through the wind-shifted, old-fashioned roof tiles falls upon it and highlights the rich, untreated grain, with not a single sign of decay or woodworm or any weakness upon it. A bang with your fist gives a reassuring answering thud. There is something deeply satisfying in the knowledge that some things really can withstand the test of time.

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If you fancy buying your own piece of history in northern Spain then take a look at this lovely traditional Asturian house set in a spectacular hill-top hamlet and ready to move into so you can start to write the next chapter…..

Front of property

Photos from the School Run

Autumn is in the air. Finally, there is a fresh crispness to the temperatures and a faint russet tone is creeping into the woodlands. Sweet chestnuts are starting to appear underfoot. Soon amaguestu will be upon us. Families are slowly settling back into the school routine, having started back on September 11th after a lengthy 3 month summer holiday.

Once again we are slaves to the alarm clock. We must be breakfasted, presentable and assembled at the bus stop by eight thirty a.m.  And make no mistake about it, here in Spain eight thirty in the morning is pretty much right next door to the middle of the night. The Spanish are not naturally early risers.

Still, for me anyway, the pain of the early start is completely anaesthetized by the glorious beauty of the school run. As my son happily rides his first bike the 500 or so metres to the bus stop, I stride briskly alongside him, hand at the ready for the occasional quick shove on the steeper sections, my head raised to take in the views on all sides.

The photos below were all snapped on yesterday and today’s school run, on my iphone. Not a bad way to start the day, eh?

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If you fancy swapping your school run for one with a better outlook, check out this lovely family home with views to the Picos and woodland paths on the doorstep.

Gorgeous traditional house in idyllic location

Gorgeous traditional house in idyllic location

 

 

 

 

Asturian Still Life

IMG_1612.JPG I took this snap on my phone yesterday as I wandered back from my neighbours’ house at twilight. It’s a bench that sits on the side of the road a few metres from our house. The Asturian countryside has a high bench to people ratio. In our tiny hamlet there is a total of 4 benches and a permanent adult population of 18. Benches are, of course, for sitting on. This one, as you can probably make out from the photo, is under a large fig tree and is the perfect spot to rest out of the heat of the midday sun and to while away half an hour or so, watching the world go (slowly) by or chatting to a friend. A few metres away around the corner in the plazuela (not quite so big or grand as a village square) is another, shadeless, bench; better suited to cooler winter days when there is nothing more nourishing to soul and body than to sit for a while with face upturned to the sun. But back to this bench. Alongside the fig leaf you see poking through the back slats is a well-ripened pepper and underneath the seat is a pair of discarded clogs, both indicators of its location next to the entrance of my neighbour’s huerta (veggie plot). This is the spot where she kicks off her ‘madrenas’ as she exits the field. These Asturian clogs, with their stilts for traction and to keep them out of the mud and their ample size to accommodate the wearing of slippers within, may be funky looking but they are eminently practical. (Before you ask, no, I haven’t got a pair. I haven’t *quite* worked up the courage yet. For now I’m sticking to wellies.) I’ll often see Rosi’s impressive harvest haul piled high here before she stores it in the barn or leaves it to dry under the eaves of the horreo. Often she’ll leave some fresh pickings on the bench for me to take for our tea. It sure beats the supermarket. If you fancy some bench-sitting in Asturias yourself why not take a look at this lovely village house for sale in La Vina, Villaviciosa for just €130,000? Set in a tranquil hamlet and with over 3,000m2 of productive land within its walled garden you’d also have a great excuse to buy yourself some clogs!

Traditional Asturian house for sale in Villaviciosa

Detached traditional Asturian house set in walled, mature gardens

Latest Price Reductions

Finally, the market seems to be picking up. A combination of returning confidence, impatience on the part of buyers who want to move on with their plans and increasingly keen pricing has seen very encouraging levels of sales in the first quarter of 2014. Looking at some of the latest price reductions it’s no wonder that property is starting to move. These beauties are definitely priced to sell.

Country house hotel. Price slashed. Originally in excess of €700,000 now just €350,000

Country house hotel. Price slashed. Originally in excess of €700,000 now just €350,000 Ref C183

 

Traditional Asturian house for sale in Villaviciosa

Detached traditional Asturian house set in walled, mature gardens Ref MR898 €130,000

 

Gorgeous stone built house in stunning mountain location

Gorgeous stone built house in stunning mountain location. Asking price slashed by over €100,000 Ref MR1011

 

Latest Price Reductions

Slashed from an original asking price of €480,000 to just €310,000 this gorgeous traditional Asturian casona is just begging to be snapped up by a canny investor in search of a dream home in a dream location.

With stunning sea views to the estuary at Villaviosa (a protected nature reserve) and in immaculate condition throughout this stone built jewel has been renovated with great style and taste throughout.

Tucked away in a tranquil hamlet just 1km from the beach of Rodiles (probably the best beach in Asturias) and with enclosed gardens of approximately 1,000m2, this really is a one-off opportunity!

Traditional stone built Asturian casona with views to the Villaviciosa estuary

Traditional stone built Asturian casona with views to the Villaviciosa estuary

Rustic Cabañas

For many, the dream of a new life in Asturias is best characterized by the traditional stone built cabaña. Typically located in out of the way places of outstanding natural beauty these charming rustic buildings are mostly set in their own large fincas – perfect for those looking to both get away from it all and to live a more self-sufficient life.

And, perhaps best of all, these traditional cabañas are often on sale at unbelievably low prices!

An idyllic, picture book cabin, ready to move into, with 7,000m2 of land and uninterrupted views to the Redes Natural Park and Picos de Europa mountains for just €30,000 anyone?

Or a cabaña in need of renovating that comes with a lean-to and 18,000m2 of land all for only €20,000?

If it´s absolute tranquility and surrounding yourself with nature that you´re after, then a cabaña may be just the thing for you.

If it´s absolute tranquility and surrounding yourself with nature that you´re after, then a cabaña may be just the thing for you.