Torcal Estates Fincas and Country property - Málaga, Spain

Fincas and Country property - Málaga Property

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News - February 2008

The “new road” gets a name and is due to start in April!

At long last, the new motorway connecting Las Pedrizas and Puerte de la Torre has been given a name and according to the Sur newspaper will be started in April of this year.

The AP 46 should significantly improve the congestion around Malaga and the airport although there are some concerns that “ordinary” people simply will not use it because of the charges.

Currently any traffic that wants to reach areas to the west of Malaga (including the numerous French holidaying and North Africans returning home for the summer) have to follow the already congested Malaga ring road.

Congestion around the “drivetime” hours can be horrendous especially during the height of the summer months. This new road can help to alleviate much of this peak time congestion and help to reduce traffic jams, accident black spots and the perennial summer tailbacks.

This will help many thousands of people living in the area around Villanueva de la Concepción and other villages that Torcal Estates cover as this will significantly improve the journey time and comfort of all those that regularly visit Málaga.

As with all large infrastructure works, there will be some people who are affected and compulsory purchase orders are already being processed and the preparations for construction have begun. It is understood that works will commence during April and the road will be completed and ready for use by the end of 2009 or early 2010.

This road will increase the connectivity of Malaga to the rest of Andalucia and give further support to the popularity of Antequera as a gateway to the cities of Granada, Cordoba and Seville.

Understanding the importance of the Land and Property Register in Spain

We have had a request to explain the differences between the Catastro and the Registro de la Propiedad and the confusion around the registered square metreage of properties and land.

This is a complicated subject so sit tight and pay attention!

Registro de la Propiedad

The Registro de la Propiedad is the Spanish version of the land registry. In the UK, the Land Registy deals with each and every property that is sold and the register is updated automatically when a property is transferred.

When you come to purchase a property in Spain, the first thing your lawyer will check is that the property has an escritura (title deed) and this should be registered at the Registro de la Propiedad to ensure that it is legal and can be sold by the person who has the escritura.

It is also used to identify if a property is subject to any easements or rights of way as these will be described with the Register.

The vast majority of properties are registered in this way although the accuracy of this register is another story. Suffice to say, that the Registro de la Propiedad is used, in the main, to ensure the ownership and legality of the property you are buying.

Normally, an escritura (or a nota simple) will have a brief description of the property being sold however you should always check these details – they may be wrong! The escritura is a private document and therefore, the details listed on it can be agreed between the seller and the buyer and can, for many years, be inaccurate.

If the property is described as 200M2 and the house is 150M2 how do you check that is what you are getting? Well, the only truly accurate thing to do is to measure the property you are buying – that way you know what is actually physically there.

Even then, you can get into an argument about what is included within the “built” area and what is not.

In an ideal world the Registro de la Propiedad is only to be used to ensure the legality and ownership of the property you intend buying.


Then we turn to the Catastro – this is a second system dealing with the registration of properties however it concentrates more on the physical nature of the property – boundaries, size and location (and this is why we place so much importance on this part of the registration process).

Every property should have a Referencia Catastral which can be found on your annual IBI bill (Impuesto sobre Bienes Inmuebles) and this number will look something like - 000123000UF66H0001TE.

Your IBI bill is your annual property tax (similar to council tax in the UK) and you will pay a figure based on the details held on your property at the Catastro. So, if your property is 200M2 on a plot of 5,000M2 but the Catastro holds your records as 150M2 on a plot of 5,000M2 then you will be paying less than you should for your annual property tax.

This is something which many Spaniards have done over the years to avoid paying tax. This is fine as it is a voluntary issue to ensure that your Catastro details are up to date.

As with the Registro de Propiedad, the Catastro may also hold information regarding easements and rights of way. Whilst the Registro will describe these easements, the Catastro will normally show these in a graphic form.

Normally, a plan will be available to show the boundaries and any rights of way that exist – it is important to ensure that both the Registro and the Catastro is checked as the details may not be exactly the same in both!

Why is it so important to have the correct Catastro details registered?

If you are purchasing a property, the Catastro details will be taken into account by a Bank and this can affect the level of mortgage that they will be able to offer. If the registered meters are less than the reality, it is more than likely that the offer will be lower than you are expecting.

If your property is not registered at the Catastro it would be impossible to get utility companies to supply your property and if you are applying for a building license of some sort, your local town hall will want to see your details registered before allowing you a permit.

So, it is vital to understand what is registered on the Catastro before you buy a property but if you currently own a property and want to know why this is so important read on…

Many of the problems that can arise from Catastro inaccuracies materialise when you decide that you want to sell your property.

Where the confusion can arise is that you know that your property is 200M2 in size however on the Catastro it is described as only 150M2. Sometimes, the escritura will also have a different figure so your buyer will be totally confused as to what is right and what is wrong.

This can create concern, confusion and also distrust which is something which can turn a buyer away from your property in favour of another where all the details are accurate and the same!

In the UK, the majority of properties are never sold as a particular size (unless you are buying a brand new home) and it is one of the quirky things about the Spanish property market that everything is sold as a certain square metreage (both for land and the built area).

Whilst this trend continues, the Catastro records play a vital role.

If you try to sell a property that has not been updated at the Catastro, it will not necessarily interfere with your enjoyment of the property nor will it necessarily stop you from selling. It really depends on who buys your property and how their lawyer views these discrepancies.

It is important to recognise however, that many more buyers come searching for a property in Spain with horror stories ringing in their ears and plenty of advice from friends and relatives to be careful about the property that they buy. If your property is properly registered then these buyers have nothing to fear and will actually be attracted by those properties that are sold with all paperwork in good order.

If your property is compulsory purchased or is affected by some sort of natural disaster, the only value that is recognised for your property is based upon the Catastro. This means that you will only be paid compensation for your property based upon the actual records held rather than the physical size of the property.

Whilst these two scenarios are extremely unlikely to affect you and I, there are people who live in Casabermeja, Almogia and Arroyo Coche who are being affected by the Compulsory Purchase orders connected to the new toll road, the AP46.

In addition, we do live in an area which could be affected by severe weather and possibly even earthquakes and if this type of disaster did affect a number of people in an area, the insurance companies tend to hand over all compensation issues to the regional government.

We do not want to create a nightmare scenario for you (and we do recognise that these are unlikely to happen) however can you take that chance?

We have had a number of vendors who, when asking their lawyer as to whether the Catastro should be updated for their property, the lawyer has laughed and asked why they would want to pay more tax.

Spanish lawyers can be apathetic to this issue and many of them see no reason to update the Catastro – that’s their view and they are entitled to it.

What do you think?



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