Thursday, April 1, 2010


This week I received the following email. I have deleted the name of the newspaper and sender but the message still stands.

“Reading this week’s newspaper I came across an article headed ‘Don’t buy in Spain.’ I don´t know about you but I am getting pretty fed up, sad tho’ it is, of hearing about the poor sods who are about to lose everything they own through inept and greedy lawyers, slick tongued developers and estate agents who do little or no research. I feel genuine sorrow for them, don’t get me wrong, but just for once could somebody with some clout speak up for the thousands of happy purchasers in Spain?

“These disasters are such a small minority but the bad publicity has spread like a cancer through Europe and is doing this country a great deal of harm. I for one have had to close my office, having not made a sale for 15 months, in a town that once thrived on tourism and foreign money. No doubt there are many more towns in dire straits out there.”

That property buyers foreign and Spanish have suffered in Spain is not in doubt – indeed the European Parliament, backed by Spanish MEPs, highlighted the injustices of the coastal law just last week. None-the-less as the above email rightly points out the vast majority of Britons who have purchased in Spain are completely happy.

In addition although some have fallen foul of Spanish property frauds there are many more who have been tricked out of their hard earned cash by property investment deals, time share scams or financial disasters peddled by British conmen or women. If you want to read some real horror stories go to the Costa Action Group website.

When I asked another ex-pat about the article mentioned in the email she told me she no longer read the newspaper because of its negative approach to the news. Well bad news might move newspapers but it certainly does little good to the image of Spain... a country both I and many others are now proud to call our home. Don’t get me wrong – wrongs should be highlighted but news should be fair and balanced to give an accurate overall view.

Another story given a negative twist was the fact that sixty per cent of Spaniards do not speak English. Look at it another way, forty per cent, probably fast moving towards fifty per cent do. Now ask yourself how many Britons in the UK speak Spanish – the world’s third most used language? Or how many Britons in Spain speak Spanish? Or how many Spaniards who have made their homes in Britain speak English. I don’t have the stats for these answers but I can make a shrewd guess – as I am sure can you too.

Half empty or half full?


Ronda Today said...

Kudos to you David for mentioning this, here in Ronda the vast majority of people I speak to are also sick of the bad press this particular newspaper gives those of us who are happy here and making an effort to integrate. Oh well, there will always be people who want bad news so I suppose the other paper is filling a need, but I for one wish the lot of them would pack their bags and go home, at least Spaniards would then only be exposed to native English speakers who really want to be here.

CraftyPip said...

Your comment says it all " bad news might move newspapers ".
The good news of the world is not so appealing.
Having said that, like most other countries there is widespread corruption at all levels, but the only difference is that the Spanish are more open about the whole business. It is an attitude of it being part and parcel of everyday life, so why hide it, and let´s just call it enchufe.
That is what gives Spain its ´Bad´ name.
On the other side of the coin is the advantage taken by foreigners of the relaxed style of life in Spain.
Too many foreigners fail to comlpy to the laws of the land trying to play european law off against Spanish law so as to avoid paying the appropriate taxes or duties due to the different authorities.
How many full residents do you know who have not obtained reidents permits, or changed their driving licence or re registered their motor vehicles? We all know people who fit this bill and how much it really hacks you off, when you go out of your way to properly intergrate into Spanish society.
There are those who have genuinely fallen foul of the sudden law changes, but they do not only include the foreigners.
Here is a brief resume of such a change; Medio ambiente want to redraw the lines of the Cañada reals throughout Spain, so a couple of years ago they decided to propose the location of where they THOUGHT the Cañadas were.
My stepmother got all the appropriate permits to extend her house i.e totally legal.
Medio ambiente turned up and said that she needed a permit to build on the Cañada Real, and slapped her with a €30,000 fine without even proving a wrong doing.
With little money, my stepmother refused to be trodden on by a heavy handed and unprofessional body of people, who had not researched the job properly.
All the hearings within the judicial system locally were found in favour of medio ambiente, as was expected.
Once it got to the courts in Sevilla, the judge threw out the case.
He stated that medio ambiente could not bring a case when they could not prove where the limits of the Cañada were, and as the new limits had not as yet been ratified in law then the case was not proven.
It is bit like the Guadia stopping you for "jumping a red light" and giving a €300 fine, and you say "but there are no traffic lights here" and he replies, "Yes, but there maybe one day"
The most galling part of this episode is that my stepmother gets no compensation for the false accusation and the huge legal fees. She cannot reclaim her expences from Medio Ambiente as they are protected in law from such redress.
Despite all that goes on, Spain is a wonderful place to live and I only wish that Britain would take a few leaves out of the Spanish books.

Alberto Bullrich said...

Why is nobody mentioning the Olive Press? What have we to fear, bad press?

There are heaps of horror stories, certainly, and I have every sympathy for the victims, but how many of them bought their properties as they would in the UK, i.e. with a proper survey? Not available in Spain? Of course they are - if you know enough Spanish to read the yellow pages. (Language again, Sancho. Thank you for putting that up, too.)

Having been involved with some of them, largely as a court interpreter, the naivete some buyers show astounds me.

By the way, have you noticed that the OP lifted an entire article of yours from your Ronda site? Verbatim! That's not journalism, that's stealing.