Property lawyer David Fuster takes us through the minefield known as the Spanish property market and explains how his company is setting new benchmarks in the property industry.
Buying a property in Spain can be time-consuming, stressful and full of hidden problems.
Many UK buyers have seen their dreams turn into a nightmare with the wrong contracts signed and, in some cases, getting a different property than the one they thought they’d purchased!
One thing that anyone who’s undertaken the buying process will tell you is to make sure you get the best legal advice.
For a topic like this, we always turn to the experts. In this interview, we’re fortunate to have one of the very best legal minds on the subject, David Fuster, a qualified expert in the field of buying and selling Spanish property.
David is a highly respected Spanish property lawyer who has spent the past 20 years supporting property agents and buyers to navigate the complexities of the Spanish legal system. For this feature, he shares with us his insights into the state of the market and reveals details of the newly launched Fuster Standard.
LM: Who is David Fuster, and what does he do?
DF: I’m the founding partner of Fuster & Associates – a team of highly professional, multilingual solicitors and tax advisors. We offer bespoke services, administrative support, guidance and resources to give our clients the security they need when buying a property in Spain.
We have been providing legal services for over two decades. My aim is to help people, and I can do that in various ways through Fuster & Associates.
For example, our litigation department is an expert in recovering the off-plan property deposits that people lost when they put money down on Spanish properties during the construction boom in the early 2010s for homes that were consequently never built. I’m proud that we have a 100% success rate for over 200 clients in this area.
Another way in which I’m able to help people is through Fuster & Associates’ work with the Vicente Ferrer Foundation, which helps disadvantaged children in India. Tied in with clients who have contracted our conveyancing service, we have adopted 15 children through the foundation, a lifetime commitment that the team and I are proud to be part of.
Most recently, we’ve created the Fuster Standard to help agents to sell and clients to buy properties in Spain with confidence.
LM: What is the Fuster Standard, and what is it designed to do?
DF: We identified a critical need for rigorous legal support within almost all Spanish property agencies. Our market-leading ‘Qualified Approval Process’ sets industry benchmarks for quality, assurance and reliability within the Spanish market.
The Fuster Standard provides a seal of approval to guarantee that a property meets all the legal requirements for sale. Neither the agency selling it nor the buyer is going to be caught out as a result of purchasing that particular home. The Fuster Standard allows them to avoid complications that may otherwise delay and disrupt the purchase process.
We wanted to bring transparency to an opaque and highly complex legal landscape. We also wanted to provide independent and honest resources to bring clarity to our client’s complex legal and administrative challenges. To do this, we only work with partners who share our ethics, values and integrity.
LM: Why would people want the service?
DF: In the absence of the Fuster Standard, property agents selling and clients buying a property in Spain can face a range of issues. These include:
- Lack of legal compliance
- Promoter’s lack of cash flow
- Abusive or misleading contracts from the developer to the agent and end customer
- Conflict of interest between agents
- Loss of deposit payments
- Delayed completion time
- Non-payment of commission
The issues can negatively impact both buyers and property agents. Buyers are at risk of losing their deposits and facing long delays. Property agents are at risk of tarnishing their reputations and losing their commissions.
The Fuster Standard also seeks to promote positive relationships between different agencies. It’s usual for a property to be sold through several agents. Those agents who belong to the Fuster Standard have committed to sharing our ethics, values and integrity and part of that means avoiding conflicts with other agents over sales.
LM: What does the guarantee mean?
DF: All the actions we take with The Fuster Standard certification are designed to prevent the problems listed above, resulting in a more fluid and seamless buying process for the end customer.
So that everyone can benefit from the guarantees of The Fuster Standard from the very beginning of their search for their dream home in Spain, we have created the Off-plan Developer Map. This is an intelligent map that displays the widest selection of off-plan properties with the Fuster Standard guarantee.
Those purchasing homes in Spain with the Fuster Standard enjoy access to over 500 properties in a single click, the ability to avoid being cheated, access to a network of agents who care about their customers and a guarantee that they are making a sound decision in terms of the legality of the property they want to buy.
One of the aspects that we are most pleased about is that with The Fuster Standard, all parties involved in the purchase process benefit, not only the buyer but also real estate agents, who can expand their businesses, increase their property portfolios, broaden their area of coverage and minimise their risks.
LM: Can you give us an example of a property that’s received the Fuster Standard stamp of approval?
DF: Absolutely. Blue Infinity in Benitachell (Costa Blanca North) is a collection of 24 luxury apartments for sale in a gated complex with security and spectacular sea views.
Impressive communal areas (including a wellness area, a large outdoor pool and generous terraces) are complemented by spacious apartments that feature fittings and appliances designed to provide highly energy-efficient homes.
Priced from €462,000, these are luxurious homes for well-to-do buyers. With the guarantee of the Fuster Standard, those selling and buying them can rest assured that all legal requirements have been met and that the purchase process is safe, with their interests fully protected.
LM: Are there any other issues that you would like to bring to our readers’ attention when it comes to buying a property in Spain?
DF: There are plenty of issues to complicate the process of buying a property in Spain at present. The uncertainty of Brexit and the resulting instability of the pound saw sales to Britons stagnate in 2019.
Despite that, Brits remain the top nationality when it comes to foreigners buying properties in Spain. Some 63,100 foreign investors bought a property in Spain in the last 12 months, with British buyers accounting for around 15% of them.
With Brexit now moving ahead and sterling on the up, we can expect the British appetite for Spanish property to pick up, making the Fuster Standard of particular interest to British buyers right now.
LM: What’s the most exciting opportunity that the Spanish property market is providing right now?
DF: For the buyer and investor of a house on the Costa Blanca, it is undoubtedly the opportunity created by the pound being on the rise. A property can cost less than last year as a result.
Coupled with local Spanish market price rises and the ease of renting in this area, there’s a compelling case for those looking for opportunities to buy and invest in Spain.
Investors of properties over €500,000 also have the chance to apply for a Golden Visa. This is a permanent residency visa that takes on an interesting new aspect in light of Brexit!
With conditions ripe for a resurgence of British buyers, there’s a huge opportunity for British estate agents looking to sell properties in Spain as well. The average value of real estate transactions by foreign residents in the southern province of Alicante in Q3 2019 for new builds was €235,000.
With a healthy rate of commission on offer from Spanish developers, UK agents selling holiday homes and investment properties in that region have the potential for a very lucrative business.
Meanwhile, from the buyer’s perspective, the steady growth of the Spanish property market in recent years has led to the launch of a host of luxurious new developments, meaning that buyers have an exceptional level of choice.
How to Contact David Fuster
If you would like to get hold of David or find out more about the Fuster Standard, please contact Fuster & Associates at +34 965 271 505 or visit www.fuster-associates.com.
Read more articles on the UK and European real estate markets in our dedicated property section here.