Wednesday, 3 February 2010

74% of British property owners in Spain want to go ‘home’ because of the economic crisis.

I find that number hard to believe as my personal experience is that a similar percentage would never go back. While the Telegraph research, carried out by Moneycorp, looks at things like the weak pound, fears over job security, and so on, it is more basic items such as the weather which keeps many here, and I would also contend that most who do return do so for family, and not other reasons.
I think the research would be far more interesting if somehow those who are considering moving to Spain are the ones questioned. Here, who could blame people for deciding not to make the move, given the tabloid headlines about the country which have been appearing of late. The problems in the Spanish economy are largely a result of the bursting of the real estate bubble, and many of the four million unemployed come from the construction and related industries. The scary thing about the situation now is all the debt which remains outstanding and owed to the banks across the country. Debt from bust builders and real estate promoters on the one hand, and from struggling families who are unable to meet the mortgage payments on the other, even in these times of low interest rates.It remains to be seen how the banking system survives as this debt inevitably comes out into the open, and as interest rates inevitably rise.
Leaving economic circumstances aside, the other reason keeping the Brits and any other foreigner investors away is the legal uncertainty highlighted by those who find their properties declared illegal and therefore practically worthless. Threats of demolition issued to retired foreign property owners over Christmas smack of rude short-sightedness by some faceless Spanish bureaucrat, unaware that he or she was at the same time writing the tabloid headlines in the U.K. or Germany, and setting up an even larger fall in foreign investment.New and quick legislation is needed to draw a line somewhere, so those who did buy dodgy property in good faith can be properly and quickly compensated, and all the new PGOU Urban Plans currently being passed across the country must be strictly enforced to stop anything similar happening in the future.Zapatero dreams and speaks of wide and impressive concepts, his ‘Alliance of Civilisations’ for example, but the sad reality for this Socialist leader is that despite his fierce defence of social policy not suffering at home in times of high unemployment, that many in Spain are already suffering as a consequence of corrupt officials and disregarded legislation. He should worry more about the future of Helen and Ken Prior, and all the other foreign residents who find themselves in trouble, than when his next photo with Barack Obama will be.
If he doesn’t set Spain’s house in order and quickly he could lose the tourism goose which has been laying all the golden eggs over recent years.
The problem for Spain is not the Brits who want to go home, as the Telegraph may say, it is about the Brits who no longer want to come here.

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