Will Belarusian builders start building the Spanish way?
Belarus and Spain are very different: as the outwardly risque Spaniard Penelope Cruz contrasts the symbol of Belarusian beauty Angelica Agurbash. Our two countries differ in everything, from our people, traditions and food, to our land and histories. Uniting us with a common denominator is absolutely impossible, and unnecessary. However, it could be done for the sake of planning diversity. Moreover, many Belarusians have grown rather fond of Spain, with some even pursuing a life there. Real estate opportunities can help bring these people closer to their dreams.
In February 2019, two members of the Realting.com team, Elena Potapovich and Anastasiya Paitra participated on a guided study tour of the Northern and Southern Costa Blanca. The tour was organized by MASA International, a Spanish real estate agency of 38 years, led by the Head of the Eastern European Department Olga Wiberg. The study group inspected real estate properties of the primary market and underwent a brief training on the process of buying property in the Valencian region.
The first to consider the investment potential of the real estate market in the Northern and Southern regions of Costa Blanca were the Swedes. The founder of MASA, himself, lived in Sweden and loved to travel. On one fine day, he sailed on a yacht to the fertile shores of Costa Blanca. At that time, the area was mostly scattered with local fishing villages.
The enterprising Swede was at the right place, at the right time. He explored the land, lived a little on his yacht, and realized the salient differences between the Scandinavian climate and the Spanish paradise. So, he invested money into the land, and began reselling it to his compatriots. After some time, wealthy Swedes began to build houses around the coast. The Northern Svenson and Johanson also grew very fond of these territories. At first houses were bought for the winter, but after infrastructure was created, more and more families began to move there. This became, as Olga Wiberg put it, the first community of “climate refugees” in Costa Blanca.
Today, the largest Swedish diaspora lives in the city of Torrevieja. In the last decade, this region has been actively built up. The initial property developers of these territories were somewhat pressed by immigrants from other countries. Today, property is actively bought by the British (19.73%), French (7.5%), Germans (7.38%), Swedes (6.95%), Italians (5.99%), and Belgians (5.63%) .
In fact, more than 55% of residents in these territories are not Spanish.
New Buildings in North and South Costa Blanca
It is important to mention that, in Spain, it is forbidden to rent out newly built buildings if they are not fully completed. All properties presented during the study tour were fully prepared for habitation.
Newly built real estate along the coast is represented by 4 categories: apartments, townhouses [duplexes], chalets and villas. We will discuss each in more detail to understand the differences between our Belarusian real estate and the practice of Spanish property developers.
Apartments are practically Belarusian apartments, the only difference being that the climate allows Spanish apartments to include terraces and even small pieces of land on the first floor. The apartment building itself, or housing complex is referred to as urbanization here. Apartment buildings along the coast are generally low-rise, no higher than 5 floors. Spaniards do not like skyscrapers, so skyscrapers are not built here. However, one city in Costa Blanca can provide a choice of high-rise buildings, Benidorm, the city of skyscrapers. The rest of the cities in this region build mostly low-rise buildings. The streets are not very wide, a tradition that saves people from the scorching sun.
Our clients will, undoubtedly, be confused by the small bedrooms in the apartments, but this is compensated by the presence of a bathroom in each bedroom. The apartments include a spacious living room and kitchen area.
All new apartments are fully decorated, fully equipped with kitchenware and built-in furniture (stove, oven, dishwasher, fridge), sinks and taps, bathroom sanitary ware, built-in wardrobes and a small storage space or boiler room. Apartments may have underground parking or ground-level parking. It is common for urbanization areas to have a public pool and recreational zones. Some urbanization areas include a gym or a sauna. All these important amenities are maintained and remunerated by residents. Tenants living in buildings with non-permanent residents are considered lucky. Everybody pays for the amenities, and the pool is, actually, never too crowded.
Apartment costs vary on the floor level, typically the lowest floors would be least expensive. This is because apartments on the upper floors come with an open rooftop - a space that may be built into a solarium. Prices for two-bedroom apartments start at 170 000 euros.
With reference to the laws of Spain, property developers cannot build closer than 150 meters to the coastline. This rule creates limited building opportunities, and so apartments with a sea view, and those closest to the sea, are most expensive.
By the way, don’t assume that apartments are the cheapest accommodation. The starting price from property developers is 500 000 euros.
Here is an example in the area of Benitachell, Costa Blanca North, the price of apartments here is between 513 000 to 578 000 euros.
Townhouses, duplexes and chalets are known for their spacious rooms and premises. A duplexe is a combination of 2 or 3 separate houses in one block, while a chalet unites 4 separate houses in a squared area. As a rule, a duplex must have 2 or 3 bedrooms, the same number of bathrooms, a large living room, one or several terraces, a small section of land with or without a pool (depending on the future owner’s preferences), and an extensive basement. One of the duplexes had an equipped apartment with a kitchen and a bedroom for guests. All duplexes are double-decker. The first level consists of a living room with a kitchen, an access to the garden, a bathroom and a bedroom. The second level consists of bedrooms and bathrooms, and the third level is the open roof or solarium. All solarium areas are equipped with water sources in several places, in cases of precipitation, so a water supply is stored there. Other possibilities for an open roof may be an outdoor shower, a garden, sun beds and even a barbecue station.
Duplexes are part of a residential complex with developed infrastructure. Public pools and other facilities are available for a more comfortable lifestyle. Maintenance costs are divided between residents of duplexes and chalets.
Here is an example of a duplex worth 200 000 euros with a spacious basement area carefully studied in Orihuela Costa, Costa Blanca South.
The chalets have 3 or 4 bedrooms and are built in the form of gated complexes. There is a public garden and a swimming pool for the residents of the complex, and a private parking and garden space for the owners of chalets. The outdoor space is as unobstructed as possible, bordered with low-rise fences that do not take much space. If the owners wish for more privacy, then in practice, it is customary to fence off the space near the house with the green walls of thuja trees and cypresses.
Recently, property developers have adhered to the modern style, but there are properties in the Mediterranean style with pronounced Moorish overtones.
These chalets’ starting cost is at 279 000 euros and above.
Villas are very similar in layout to duplexes and chalets, except that they are completely separate houses, surrounded by their own plots of land. As a rule, the cost of villas start at 400 000 euros. The price is very dependent on the location of the property. Developers usually use the best locations for villas and expensive apartments. You can't argue with logic here.
These villas have everything: a private plot of land, 2-3 or more bedrooms, a spacious living room, a dining room and a fully equipped kitchen area. Spare rooms can be made into an additional apartment for guests. A private pool, a gym, a garden and a car area are available. All systems for vital functions of the house range from the "smart home" system, air conditioning, heating system and end with the automatic folding of awnings on the windows.
Property developers offer a variety of villa projects. Mainly in the modern, hi-tec and Mediterranean styles. These companies employ project planners and interior designers. For example, the property developer, Euromarina, offers its customers more than 100 villa projects and is ready to prepare a completely original project in accordance with client wishes.
Registration and Purchasing Process
Buying property in Spain is simple. You need to understand that the price of any property on the price list isn’t everything. Does the buyer need to pay more, for instance, if the purchase is without a loan? Generally, between 14-15% of the property value should be considered in addition to the price. With a loan, between 17-19% of the property value. These amounts include taxes and all costs of registration.
A particular process is taken in accounting. The EU countries rigidly approach the analysis of documents confirming the origin of money in the buyer's accounts. If a buyer from Belarus wants to make a purchase, then the payment to the property developer’s account should come from the buyer’s Belarusian account. If a lawyer in Spain doubts the legality of money, then the deal will not take place. Nobody will bother with any explanation, for instance that “this money is the 100-year accumulation of an entire generation of family”. Without documentary evidence of the money source, such as the sale of real estate, dividends, or high wages, then it is better not to waste time. The transaction will not take place.
Keep in mind, the process of owning or using real estate comes with communal payments and taxes. Depending on the type of property, these costs can range from 1 500 and 3 000 euros per year.
To ensure that all work runs smoothly, real estate companies and property developers are not frugal, and spend a lot of money on the comforts of potential clients. For example, using good cars for demonstration trips, paying accommodations and meals in hotels, and demonstrating fully-equipped properties as “turnkey” projects.
Here, the representatives of Realting.com truly understood what the expression "turnkey" really meant. In the demonstration, there was nothing to complain about. Believe me, they had studied everything very carefully.
Such apartments and villas can be settled into immediately. Everything is thought out for the client, everything is functional and convenient. Everything is done for the people.
There is no such situation where, this “fell off here”, and “we didn’t have time to paint over there” or “here is an apartment with a rough finish”. Wires will never stick out, and the front door is unscathed. The culture of construction is at a very high level.
I would like to finish with a very important observation. Representatives of the company MASA told us the history of the territory Cumbre del Sol [the peak of the sun]. 40 years ago, the property developer bought just one mountain. He built roads, carried out infrastructure, and only then began to build a village.
Throughout these 40 years, there have been numerous changes in the country and in the EU, but regardless, the property on that mountain has remained unchanged. The company has been planning long term, preparing the construction and implementing its plans in recent years. Today, people are living there.