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!

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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.

Latest Client Testimonial

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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!

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

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!