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Mark Stücklin, an expert on property in Spain, found himself in a debate on the similarities (and otherwise) of Florida and Spain's Mediterranean strip as retirement destinations. There are many similarities, Florida with its many new neighbours from New York, Chicago and Boston, plus some others joining the mix from Cuba, Puerto Rico and (ahem) Las Vegas, compares to Andalucía, Murcia, Valencia and the islands with their intake from Germany, Norway, Holland, Ireland and Britain. But Florida is making a fortune and the Spanish destinations, thanks to bad planning, petty nationalisms, corruption and just plain stupidity, are losing out. Florida knows that there are alternatives – Arizona, California, an area around Guardalajara in Mexico, Costa Rica and others. Spain seems to have forgotten that there are alternatives here as well. More on Mark's experiences below:
(*Repeated from a letter last week) - Homes for sale or 'long rent' (four months and up) must now have their Energy Efficiency Rating 'certificado de eficiencia energética' passed, with the details included in all advertising. Fines up to 6,000€ for failure to do so. These only apply to 'second-hand' homes (which means those of us who wish to rent or sell their homes) and not to temporary structures with a life of two years, structures under 50m2 in size, buildings sold for demolition or new buildings - which should already have the certificate. You don't have to fix your house after it has been assayed, and the price is somewhere in the 200 to 300€ range.
From Digital Journal, discussing giving Residency to high-flying foreigners: - 'Spanish residency gives buyers the ability to move freely around 25 European nations, already proving an attractive proposition to Asian, Russian and Middle Eastern buyers. (An Egyptian agency) has referred potential buyers to Marbella as a direct result of the change in law, sharing serious clients to maximise every buyers and sellers opportunity in the international property market...
In recent years, Marbella has been a prime spot for Russian and Scandinavian investors attracted to the year round warm weather and luxury property along the Golden Mile. From what was a solely lifestyle driven purchase, the law adds a new stimulus to the global market place. A change of pace is expected as demand from those who might have been hesitant to buy before are now persuaded...
One of Marbella’s leading newspapers recently commented that eight out of every ten new residents are now foreign, registering 138 different nationalities in Marbella alone'...
Mark Stücklin from Spanish Property Insight compares Spanish real-estate to Florida (as well he might, there being clear similarities). He writes: - 'Spain has always aspired to be the “Florida of Europe” so what can we learn from Florida’s spectacular housing market recovery, and are there any grounds for optimism?
Last week I joined a panel at the SIMA Madrid International Real Estate Exhibition comparing the holiday-home markets of Spain and Florida. I explained the situation in Spain, whilst Dean Asher, President of the Florida Realtors Association and Teresa Kinnery, CEO of the Miami Association of Realtors enlightened us on the situation in Florida and Miami.
My presentation was a cheerless affair as I explained how almost every market metric was still heading in the wrong direction, whilst Dean and Teresa were all smiles as they explained how the property market in Florida has staged the most extraordinary recovery, with every single metric heading in the right direction.
Take Miami: After a savage crisis in 2008/2009, in which prices crashed and inventories bulged, they then went on to clock up record yearly sales in 2011 and 2012, and are on track for another record in 2013, with the highest level of sales in Miami’s 93 year history'...
New renting laws in Spain are now in effect. There's a pdf here on the subject. In short, long term lets will be signed for three year periods, with a turnaround of an additional month if needed. Rentals can now be made without reference to the increase in the cost-of-living index IPC. Contracts can now be 'broken' for a number of reasons by both parties, tenants can make 'improvements' to the property, paying for these in lieu of the rent. Late payers will have just 10 days to stump up the rent. Lastly, access to judicial decisions regarding a disagreement between owner and tenant will be speeded up. - Taken from El Mundo
A remarkable 'blurb' from El País in English: - 'Marbella is undefeatable; it resists everything. Seven years after the town was rocked by the property permit corruption scandal known as Operation Malaya, which led to the arrests of the mayor, her deputy and a host of other well-known figures, the situation in Marbella has not only returned to normal but there are also now signs of optimism that demonstrate the strength of “a first-class international brand” resort. And real estate agents harbour no doubts.
"Marbella is known worldwide as a top-class destination, and its consolidated and quality markets have weathered the crisis better than in other places across Spain and other countries, in the sense that there have been fewer price reductions and more movement of properties," (says an agency located there).
Marbella is attracting hundreds of wealthy Russians, Qataris and Kuwaitis who are not willing to pay less than two million euros for a house. Opportunities also prevail for middle-class Spaniards in residential areas such as Nueva Andalucia, near Puerto Banús, where a penthouse can go for about 115,000 euros'...
The Diario de Salamanca is upset that some Community Presidents don't speak Spanish: - 'The newspaper speaks with the 'Asociación Diversidad y Convivencia' which argues for the diffusion of Castilian, Catalan, Galician and Basque languages in Andalucía, which has spent several years fighting for the reform of the property law 'Ley de Propiedad Horizontal' to be changed so that many Spaniards would not have to pay translators to talk with the Presidents of their community.
Imagine (says the newspaper) that you need the services of a translator to understand or to sign agreements with the President of one's community of neighbours.
While located in Spanish territory and speaking Spanish would be the normal way of doing things, sometimes the rule-book is thrown out and, for some communities of the Mediterranean coast, it is not so rare to find the President is a foreigner who doesn't speak Spanish. This situation has occurred in a number of neighbour communities for a while and many of these are presided over by citizens of other nationalities such as Chinese, Russian, German or English'...
'With British house prices soaring last month to their highest since 2010, would-be migrants are expecting more cash to buy their dream properties overseas.
Along with a recent survey indication that 48 per cent of Britons would leave the country if they had the chance, research into property prices has seen first-time buyers re-enter the market in droves. Figures from the Office of National Statistics have confirmed a significant hike in sales prices, and it all adds up to great news for those looking to move overseas'... (From Emigrate.co.uk)
El Mundo brings us The Best and Worst of living in Spain, based on a study from the OECD.
'Spain does not come out well in the index of well-being produced by the OECD. It is situated in the 20th position from a total of 36 countries. The balance between life and work. Health, the most positive for Spain and work, income and education, being the worst of life here. The indicator is an alternative to GDP for measuring the state of a country'... - There's a video (here in English) which helps you decide 'your better life index', or rather, which country is right for you, bringing you to the OECD page here.
'SPAIN’S top executives are among the highest paid in Europe, despite the current economic crisis. Topped only by Italy, Spanish CEOs take in a median base salary of €788 per hour while the top earners rake in a figure closer to €950 every 60 minutes.
Meanwhile, the lowest earners in Spain receive just €3.85 an hour. The huge wage gap, highlighted in a report by the Federation of European Employers last week, has sparked debate about capping executive pay levels'... More at The Olive Press
Throughout the three days of the recent meeting of the Bilderberg Group in London, European bankers, officials of the U.S. Government and international financial managers have had tense discussions behind closed doors concerning the worry that Germany is extending too much credit to the rest of Europe.
Several Spaniards attended the meeting, including the Minister of Economy Luis de Guindos, has made no statement regarding his "visit" and was not even asked about it in a TV interview with Ana Pastor just after the return of his trip.
A German Bilderberger pointed out that Germany's resources are finite, while another German stated that "it would be impossible in the rarefied current political and economic climate to convince German voters to support Spain, a country plagued by corruption and inefficiency."
The key message of the meeting: against all odds, it is imperative to preserve the functioning of the banking system.
The conclusion could not have been more terrible for the immediate future of Spain. Spain is going to be sacrificed on the altar of high finance. "Why should we want to save you if Spain has lied about the extent of its financial problems?", one of the German participants reportedly asked the Spanish Vice-President. "Your banking system is not worth anything. Do you have shares that may be of interest to anyone? "'… From Democracia Ya and notes at Almería Confidencial ('David Rockafeller against El Corte Inglés')
From Property Showrooms: 'Industrial production in Spain is on the up, creating hope that other parts of the economy aren't far behind. The Industrial Production Index posted an annual rate of 7.3 per cent in April - more than 17 points higher than the figure registered in March. All industrial sectors registered positive annual variations, but non-durable consumer goods, capital goods and intermediate goods saw the greatest change'...
World Asset Declaration:
No 1539 on the long-running thread on the World Asset Declaration at British Expats Forum: - 'Oh. I'm so glad we got out when we did. The worst that has happened to us is an overdue bill from Movistar. Whilst we enjoyed our time in Spain and loved our house and village, there is NO WAY we would ever a) become resident or b) buy a house, in Spain ever again.
I'm sure a lot of intending ex-pats will change their minds and not come to Spain, especially if they want to keep a property and bank accounts in the UK. You don't come for all that hassle, so they won't come'.
The Tax authority, Hacienda, has just revealed that during its investigations into the company run by the Duke and Duchess of Palma, there were fifteen fictitious employees and just one fellow who actually worked there. As the Diario de Navarra says: - 'Hacienda refuses to accuse the younger daughter of the King in the 'Noos Inquiry', but the same tax agency has delivered to the judge José Castro a report revealing that Cristina de Borbón and Iñaki Urdangarin's company came to have, at least, 15 fictitious employees. Contracts that, according to the technicians from Hacienda, the Couple used to defraud Social Security for at least six years, from 2004 to 2009'...
Self-employed people, 'autónomos', are perennially in the eye of the Government and the Tax Authority for more and more 'contribution' to the State. Here is El Plural with news of the latest squeeze on the self-employed – an increase in the minimum monthly contribution: - 'Rajoy's Government has not approved a single just measure in favour of the self-employed. On the contrary, it has raised taxes for them such as the IRPF income tax whose minimum rate has gone from 15 to 21%, while there isn't a single fresh line of additional credit for either the self-employed or for small businesses ('Pymes'). The vaunted electoral promise to not have to pay IVA until payment itself had been received has been delayed until 2014, more than two years after Rajoy became President. Now the Government is going to raise the contribution to Social Security,'...
El Mundo reveals that a large number of police have been drafted in to watch out for and take care of the huge number of tourists who will visit Spain this summer: - 'A total of 29,208 agents of the National Police and the Guardia Civil will participate this year in the summer operation that the Ministry of the Interior will launch on July 1 to ensure the safety of the millions of tourists expected to visit Spain in the coming months.
The operation, called 'Plan Turismo Seguro', presented by the Secretary of State for Security, Francisco Martínez, aims for visitors to enjoy a "safe" stay in Spain and to provide the best response when the tourist is the victim of a crime'...
From El País in English comes the news of four new appointments to the Constitutional Court, swinging that body over to The Right: - 'The renewal of the Constitutional Court (TC) bench announced on Friday, following a meeting earlier this week between Deputy Prime Minister Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría and the president of the General Council of the Judiciary (CGPJ), has, as expected, produced an ideological shift in Spain’s top legal body from progressive leftists to the right...
...The support of the majority of magistrates is a fundamental condition if some of Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy's policies -- now in the hands of the TC -- are to prosper. Among these are labour market and pension reforms, obstacles to the power of the regions to decide healthcare policy, Catalonia's independence drive and a new abortion law.
The reshuffled panel will also have the power to annul austerity measures imposed by the IMF, EU and ECB of up to 10 billion euros, in line with the decision of its Portuguese counterpart to ignore the diktats of the "troika."'...
From the protest site Avaaz: - 'Spain’s energy giants may have been colluding with influential politicians to ensure huge profits for themselves while launching a dirty war on renewables. But now, we have the opportunity to bring these shady deals into the public light and get back on track towards a greener future.
Like powerful football clubs, Iberdrola, Gas Natural Fenosa, Endesa and other large enterprises have combed the parliament to hire influential former presidents of government, ministers, and state secretaries to defend their multi-million euro interests. Their ferocious pressure is leading to the dismantlement of our clean energy sector, killing Spain's growing international leadership on renewables. The result is outrageous: an oligopoly of companies filling up their pockets – three companies alone add up annual profits of more than 6 billion euros! – while citizens pay some of the highest electricity bills in Europe.
But if we act now we can turn the situation over drastically: the Platform for a New Energy Model have brought a complaint before the Anti corruption Public Prosecutor showing the sinister links between the big energy firms and some top politicians and demand an in-depth investigation to analyze possible political corruption and misuse of power'.
Sign the petition here!
'One of the biggest questions in today’s European politics is what price Germany is willing to pay to keep the UK in the EU. One school of thought – which strangely sees an over-representation of retired Europhiles and hardcore Eurosceptics – claims virtually no price at all. Berlin will choose Paris – and Warsaw – any day of the week. David Cameron might as well throw in the towel now.
Well, the past week may have given Berlin a taste of what an EU without Britain could look like. And it ain’t pretty'... Opening salvo from The Telegraph's article 'Hey Berlin, this is what an EU without Britain would look like'.
The Prosecutor, mind...: (From El País in English) – 'The Madrid Prosecutor’s Office is to appeal the decision by Judge Elpidio José Silva to send the former chairman of Caja de Madrid, Miguel Blesa, back to jail without the possibility of bail while he continues his investigation into alleged irregularities committed in the Spanish savings bank’s purchase of City National Bank of Florida, judicial sources said Thursday last week.
Judge Silva sent Blesa to jail in May but the retired banker spent only 24 hours in prison after his lawyers posted bail of 2.5 million euros. He ordered Blesa to return to prison on Wednesday last week following a plea to do so by right-wing pressure group Manos Limpias, which has launched a private prosecution in the case. The public prosecutor opposed Blesa’s imprisonment.
Blesa faces charges of criminal mismanagement, falsification of documents and possible misappropriation of funds. Bankia, the bank formed by the merger of Caja Madrid and six smaller savings banks, last month sold the Florida bank for 150 million euros less than what it paid for it'...
In fact, things are even worse regarding the impartiality and probity of the State Prosecutor... (Headline and preamble from Voxpopuli): 'The Prosecutor's Office joins forces with economic powers again: also fails to find crime in the sale of preferred shares.
The Office did not participate in the Bárcenas Case, of find offence in the Case of the Infanta Elena or the Miguel Blesa banking case.
And now there are four. The Prosecutor's Office has not seen evidence of crime in any of the four big recent corruption cases. The Prosecutor even raised questions in the first session of the roles of Bárcenas. Neither did the agency see evidence of crime in the case of the Infanta and was opposed to Blesa's trip to prison. Now it says that there is no crime in the sale of preferred shares with Bankia and recommends plaintiffs to go to the civil way'...
The same article notes: 'The position of the Prosecutor's Office, a hierarchical body that depends on the Ministry of Justice, does not respond to any instruction from the Ministry, according to sources from the Department'.
While Barcelona soccer star Messi is being investigated for non-payment of taxes, he's accused of owing around four million euros in taxes on sponsorships from major corporations, many major football teams are also, finally, being harassed for huge debts to the Social Security. The total owed by first and second division clubs stands now at over 16.6 million euros.
From the BBC: 'The European Commission is launching legal action against Spain over the refusal of some hospitals to recognise the European Health Insurance Card.
The EHIC entitles EU citizens to free healthcare in public hospitals. But some Spanish hospitals rejected the card and told tourists to reclaim the cost of treatment via their travel insurance, the Commission says.
A BBC correspondent says the Commission is not accusing cash-strapped Spanish hospitals of trying to make money.
The Commission, which checks compliance with EU law, has requested information on the issue from the Spanish government - the first stage of an infringement procedure which could eventually result in a fine.
Under the health card system, an EU citizen's home health service is supposed to cover the cost of emergency treatment abroad. So for a British citizen the UK National Health Service picks up the final bill'...
A letter from John points out that a quick call for the 'Libro de Reclamaciones' (complaint's book) usually does the trick in bringing the hospital accountant around to your point of view.
The Guardian tells a story of the Madrid Government's plan to remove a monument to the International brigades in the Complutense University (near where fierce fighting between foreign sympathisers of the Republican government bravely fought against Franco's troops. 'Madrid's dangerous attempt to distort the history of the Spanish civil war. The planned removal of a monument in Madrid to the anti-fascist International Brigades is an attempt to lock down discussion'... - El Diario also follows the story.
As Spain’s housing market boomed in the last decade, real estate tycoons fell in love with the idea of getting to construction sites fast. Developers and other business titans binging on easy credit more than doubled the country’s corporate jet fleet from 2004 to 2009, to 137 planes.
With Spain’s economy in free-fall and construction largely halted, that shrank to 115 jets in service by the end of last year even as the Europe-wide fleet expanded, according to aviation data provider Flightglobal.
“Spain’s jet fleet has suffered the most after having gone through unparalleled growth during the credit boom,” said Daniel Hall, an analyst at Flightglobal’s advisory service, Ascend, in London.
Many of the planes that have been unloaded were sold by builders who thought they could make money operating their own private jets for charter, according to Rafael Melero, a director at Gestair SA, Spain’s biggest private jet operator. - (From Bloomberg)
'SUR has extended its international family even further with the birth this week of SUR Ha PycckM, that is, SUR in Russian. The new weekly newspaper was officially launched on Thursday evening last week at a party held at La Cabane beach club at Marbella’s Hotel Los Monteros, attended by numerous authorities and members of the Russian-speaking community on the Costa del Sol.
The initiative is the latest step in publishers Prensa Malagueña’s bid to cater for the needs of the growing numbers of foreign residents on the Costa del Sol. The international adventure began with SUR in English almost 30 years ago and the weekly German paper SUR Deutsche Ausgabe joined the family in 2004'... (From Sur in English)
From Bloomberg comes a story of how traders have been rigging currency rates to profit off clients: - Traders at some of the world’s biggest banks manipulated benchmark foreign-exchange rates used to set the value of trillions of dollars of investments, according to five dealers with knowledge of the practice...
...Employees have been front-running client orders and rigging WM/Reuters rates by pushing through trades before and during the 60-second windows when the benchmarks are set, said the current and former traders, who requested anonymity because the practice is controversial. Dealers colluded with counterparts to boost chances of moving the rates, said two of the people, who worked in the industry for a total of more than 20 years.
The behavior occurred daily in the spot foreign-exchange market and has been going on for at least a decade, affecting the value of funds and derivatives, the two traders said. The Financial Conduct Authority, Britain’s markets supervisor, is considering opening a probe into potential manipulation of the rates, according to a person briefed on the matter'...
This one has been 'going the rounds'. My version from the New York Daily News: - 'Spanish dog owners who don't pick up after their pets are receiving a special delivery — of their hound's droppings in the mail.
Residents not scooping the poop in the town of Brunete, 20 miles west of Madrid, are finding their pooch's feces turning up on their doorsteps in official "Lost Property" boxes.
Council bosses launched the campaign — which sees 20 volunteer spies patrolling the streets — for one week in February.
When they spotted someone abandoning their dog's mess, they followed them before casually asking the name of the pet'...