Buying a rural property in Spain can be a great option for foreign investors, but beware local planning laws which could scupper your plans.
Foreign investors are increasingly interested in buying a rural property in Spain, with land upon which the new owners will be able to not only farm, but also enjoy the peace and tranquillity that nature provides. While the purchase cost of buying property in Spain can be lower in rural areas, there are other considerations to take into account.
When you find a plot that is legally classified as rústico you have to be aware that you will be buying a legally-protected plot as a result of a particular reason (environmental, historical, touristic, heritage value, etc.) being its right to use solely permitted in compliance with its nature and specific purposes. Rustic land is known as being highly-preserved from the urban development. Its common use is connected with agriculture and livestock, horticulture, or traditional elements (windmills, water-sources, etc.).
It can also be frequent that the property of your choice is classified as rural. Despite being located in similar areas as the rústico ones, rural areas are mainly conceived for residential purposes and development is not as restricted as in rústico areas, being focused on fulfilling its population needs according to the local traditions and idiosyncrasy.
However, often properties located on land that has been declared to be rural, are properties that are not inscribed in the land registry, or are in such poor condition that their refurbishment is essential to obtain a certificate of occupancy. An important question therefore arises: how should a prospective investor approach such properties?
The first step will be to speak with a lawyer who can advise you of the legal status of the property. The lawyer will obtain a report from an architect which will specify whether, according to local by-laws and planning regulations, there is any real possibility that the Town Hall will concede a works licence to permit the rebuilding of the property (in case this is needed).
In the normal course of events, if there is already a property built on the land in question, even if it has to be completely refurbished, the Town Hall typically will grant a licence to “rehabilitate” the property, always taking into account that there are certain rules that have to be followed, such as, for example, not building more than one or two floors high, or related to the maximum square metres that the property can have.
What is certainly not advisable is to buy a land in a rural area where there’s never been any property located.
This is because Town Halls base their decisions to grant (or not to grant) planning permission on the fact that there is an existing property located on the land that the investor wishes to buy.
So, once a favourable report with respect to the property is obtained from the architect, it is then safe to buy the rural property (bearing in mind that unfortunately no-one can 100% guarantee that the Town Hall will give the licence to refurbish the property).
At the same time as carrying-out the purchase, and in a simultaneous operation before a Notary Public, we can, with the report of the architect, make a New Build Declaration (declaración de obra nueva), so the Notary would write in the deeds that in the land there’s a house, and then would send it to the property Register so the house would be legally registered. Once acquired, the new owners may initiate steps for reform.
Rural property in Spain for Tourism business
Beyond the wish (some may say dream) of having your residence in a rural area, some expats are particularly interested to buy property in Spain to rent out to tourists: if this is your objective, you will need to consider making a Tourism License application.
However, having a complete overview on the whole process of purchasing property is an advantage: this said we offer you as well another great time & money saver: our up-to-date guide for Buying Property in Spain: a 5 to 10 minutes manual that will save you a lot of trouble.