Spanish Property – From Adosados to Villas

Spanish property, paticularly along the Mediterranean coast, is quite different from that of Northern Europe – however, these are the main types with their respective pros and cons:ADOSADO Adosados are modern terraced houses which can normally be found on the outskirts of Spanish towns. They normally have a ground floor area that is a huge garage/storage area. The main accommodation is on the 1st and 2nd floors with the kitchen, a bathroom and living room with balcony on the 1st floor and the bedrooms and further bathrooms on the 2nd floor. The properties are often surprisingly light and attractive inside – however ouside space is frequently limited to a roof terrace or small courtyard.Note: This type of Spanish property is a great advance upon old town houses but Adosados lack character and, amazingly, have little useable outside space – so most North Europeans find any possibility of an al fresco lifestyle well nigh impossible.APARTAMENTO This is a flat on the beach front and should not be confused with a piso (see below), although the construction can be identical. So, if you want a flat on the beach front always ask for an apartamento. Apartamentos can vary considerably, depending upon when they were built, but most new ones will have 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, a kitchen (sometimes American style), a reception room, small hallway and a balcony.Note: Apartamentos are meant for holidays and generally do not have central heating, although they normally have air conditioning (hot and cold). Be aware that in winter all the amenities around you may close and some holiday blocks are almost deserted out of season.CASA DE PUEBLO This is one of the most common forms of property in Spain and is a town house. These are invariably very old, terraced houses with almost no outside space. Casas de Pueblo vary from tiny single fronted properties to huge double fronted houses with interior garages.Note: To reform a casa de pueblo can be very committing and many builders ‘drop’ the interior and effectively reconstruct the house they are modernising. After hundreds of years, all the services need replacing and further light introducing into houses that are often naturally dark. Parking can also be a major problem and you should be wary about buying a casa de pueblo – unless it has dedicated parking and a good sized, ground floor courtyard for al fresco use.CASITA This is often (but not always) a single storey property that was erected as a ‘summer’ house by the Spanish. Most casitas are pretty basic and were often constructed without an architect and were probably self-built. Internally, they generally comprise a small kitchen, 3 plus small bedrooms and a bathroom – all leading off from the reception room. The latter is normally entered straight from the front door (i.e. there is no hallway) – outside of which there is an open sided naya with a roof. There will a garden which can vary from around 1,000 m2 to 3,000m2Note: Unless a casita has been very substantially reformed, it will lack central heating, damp proofing and thermally insulated walls. This type of property in Spain may also be illegal or subject to a future urbanisation project – so beware of some potentially very high future liabilities. Furthermore, casitas may lack, mains electricity and landline telephones. Water may also not be drinkable (aqua potable). A Casita may have a swimming pool – but do not confuse this with a reformed water deposito that lacks a pump and filter system.DUPLEX This is a flat on two stories, normally the last two floors of a building. They are normally very desirable and can be luxurious. Often they have a very large roof terrace.Note: As always, the actual location of the block of flats will be vital – so particularly look to buy where there will be all year round activity.FINCA This is a farmhouse, which will normally have land attached. This type of Spanish property is normally very old and, unless it has been reformed, needs very serious work to modernise it to modern standards. Like most old buildings fincas are a compromise between charm and constant maintenance. Good, reasonably priced fincas near coastal Spain are surprisingly hard to find and, once reformed, fetch excellent prices. The term finca can also be used to denote a block of flats (i.e the building itself)Note: Due to their age, fincas are normally fully legal. However, they can sometimes prove to be awkward to buy from Spanish property owners, where many members of a given family can have rights to the property. Be careful of any future possibility of urbanisation projects – although these can sometimes be greatly to your financial advantage.MASIA A masia is a very large country mansion, generally with many farm outbuildings. They were the homes of major landowners and often have landscaped grounds and impressive entrance drives. This sort of property in Spain can be vast and sometimes has 30 – 40 rooms and substantial land.Note: Old, unreformed masias require terrific amounts of reformation and will absorb huge amounts of money. They can be ideal for conversion to hotels or residential centresPISO A piso is a permanently lived-in flat (as opposed to a holiday flat). They come in all shapes and sizes from tiny studio flats to 200m2 luxury homes and are found in all villages and towns. Not all have lifts – but avoid the ones that do not, as they are difficult to re-sell. Equally, having a dedicated parking space is essentialNote: Piso’s can be very noisy because the sound proofing of property in Spain is often deficient. Before buying a piso, check the maintenance/communal costs, which can vary considerably.VILLA A villa is a substantial Spanish property that has been built and designed for all year round living. It is a detached house, sometimes on three floors, that often has a swimming pool. Normally, it has been built within the last thirty years – with most constructed over the last ten years or so during the Spanish property boom. The quality and size of villas varies considerably, although the basic specification will be 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, kitchen, reception room, covered terrace and swimming pool. Many villas also have an underbuild area that can, subject to licencing, be developed into further accommodation.NOTE: Wherever possible, make sure that you buy a villa that is urbano and fully urbanised and use a surveyor to check the property – particularly if it has been built on a hillside.