Books have been written about buyers who have been defrauded when buying property in Spain. Many have parted with money only to find that the developer goes bankrupt and the urbanisation doesn’t get finished. We have started offering specialised lie detector tests for Spanish property purchase as a result of hearing from a client who came to us devastated.
From 2008, when the global recession hit, the exchange rate from £ to euro was 1 for 1. Many retired Brits who had lived quite comfortably in Spain found that their pensions didn’t cover their living expenses. Those who had businesses there couldn’t make ends meet when the work dried up. There followed a mass exodus from Spain back to Britain. Many who had mortgages handed the keys into the bank. Others put their houses on the market and year after year had to drop prices to well below what they had originally paid for them.
With many houses empty, burglaries were common and opportunists sought to cash in by repairing locks for which only they had the keys. This is how our client Charlotte found herself in hot water.
Finding a Spanish property privately
Charlotte has seen lots of houses abroad and had been looking to relocate for some time. Unfortunately, there had been so many horror stories she’d heard in the press. She’d also heard them from friends and family who had moved abroad and subsequently moved back after a few years. The problems seemed to be common, they’d buy a property new and find out they didn’t own the land it stood on or the land didn’t have planning permission in the first place. Charlotte decided to try to buy an older property but privately. She thought this would make things safer. It didn’t matter if it needed a bit of work. In fact, that would be better for her and her husband as at least they could move in and make it into their dream home. Completing the work themselves would mean it would be cheaper and they’d cut out the agency fees at the same time. What could be better? Charlotte thought she’d covered all eventualities and would be safe with this plan.
Looking through private advertisements placed by owners who were now living in the UK, Charlotte and her husband found a property they loved. It was in a small village in Southern Spain, right up in the mountains. It was habitable so she could renovate while living in it.
Meeting the ‘owner’
The ‘owner’ only lived a few miles away from her in York. They met up and agreed a price. To view they were given the key on the proviso they paid a £3,000 deposit. Since they knew where the owner lived and he seemed a genuine person, Charlotte transferred the deposit in 2 payments through Paypal. They agreed to this method since the owner said he would refund the deposit if for some reason, they didn’t like the house. Charlotte thought she would be protected doing the transaction through Paypal too.
In possession of the key, the happy couple went to view the house and the pictures they had seen hadn’t lied. It was perfect and just what they wanted so they enlisted the services of a lawyer to complete the purchase. It would take around 2 months for the paperwork to be ready. Their own house in the UK was near to completion of a sale so they arranged with the ‘owner’ to move into the Spanish property before completing.
Things start to go wrong
After about two months Charlotte spoke to her lawyer as she hadn’t heard anything from him. The lawyer gave her some news she was certain she’d never hear. The seller’s name on her paperwork didn’t match the seller’s name on the land registry details. This is where a lie detector tests for Spanish Property Purchase would have helped.
The lawyer explained this may just be an error or the person that sold the property to her was a relative of the owner and not to worry. She’d look into it and find out. If only Charlotte has enlisted the help of her lawyer or insisted on a private polygraph examination before letting any money change hands
A few months later, after they had completed a small amount of renovation work on the house (increasing its value), she heard the news she never conceived would be possible. The person who sold her the house and had received the deposit wasn’t the owner at all. The real owner had never heard of him. Charlotte was told she could buy the house but the £3000 she’d paid wouldn’t be taken into consideration. She’d also have to pay twice what the property was originally advertised at.
Lie detector tests for Spanish property purchase
If lie detector tests for Spanish property purchase had been available at the onset of this debacle (paid for privately by Charlotte) this would never have taken place. She would have lost a fraction of the money – by paying for the test only.
Naturally the ‘owner’ had disappeared and wasn’t worried about his Paypal account being closed, due to non-delivery of an item. These types of fraudsters operate in a sophisticated way so have access to a myriad of online accounts.
Charlotte and her husband cut their losses and moved back to the UK, like so many British people both disheartened and devastated. Could you afford for this to happen to you?
Currently there are many cheap Spanish properties for sale from British owners. Many have put their houses on the market and returned to the UK due to the uncertainty of Brexit. The low exchange rate from £ to euro is also a concern for them. It isn’t unusual for paperwork not to be in order when buying a rural Spanish property so it could take several months for title deeds to be in order. It’s also not unusual to secure the property, whilst paperwork is being verified, with a deposit. You should never pay a deposit without a contract being in place. Lawyers’ fees are expensive by comparison to arranging a polygraph test which could save all the hassle of even starting the process.
If you are considering buying a cheap Spanish property from owners who live in the UK, consider asking them to take lie detector tests for Spanish property purchase. Some will agree because they are genuine owners. Others may not in which case do you want to take the risk?
Private lie detector tests for Spanish property purchase are available in the UK as well as in Spain. Contact us for more information.