Spanish Solutions is set to open a new division in Alicante!
Spanish Solutions, legal and taxation experts in Spain, are evolving.
Most people, certainly those in the Orihuela Costa and Torrevieja areas, are aware of Spanish Solutions. Even clients who have not used our services directly have benefited over the years from Spanish Solutions helping the other side of the deal.
We have developed quite a reputation as a knowledgeable, fair, hardworking and solid legal and fiscal firm.
We set up our business back in 2005 and really it was due to the fact our real estate division, Comaskey Properties could not find the right legal company to work with. *( Comaskey properties is now owned by Sunworld and are still trading successfully in La Zenia).
Spanish Solutions Legal and Tax initially consisted of three employees, a couple of desks and they managed admirably with the steady flow of mostly Irish and British clients who came into our La Zenia office.
We worked with Fidel, an accountant, Rafa Carrasco and others around the area- people we trusted but who needed our sales advice too.
We changed personnel over the years and the business grew and now we have the dream team. Mari-Carmen Poveda and Pedro Molina providing fantastic service to our tax and legal clients respectively.
We can deal with Danish, Swedish, Norwegian, French, Flemish and Polish speakers these days. The business of buying and selling property in Spain has really changed and we need to be able to deal with clients in their own language.
We have toyed for years with the possibility of opening offices all across Spain. Our office in La Zenia is an excellent location, close to the La Zenia Boulevard but… we are still missing clients.
Just to explain, one of the most important factors is that clients are missing out on us. We think we are so good, so professional and so beneficial to our clients, that the ones who miss out more than us, are the buyers who don’t use. Sure, of course we will say that, and I apologise if it sounds arrogant. Of course there are some excellent law firms in Spain, many of whom are English speaking too. However, we just think we are better.
Some unique achievements:
We won the Cosat Rider Business of the year award in 2014. Its now the Costa Blanca People but either way – we are the only legal firm to ever win the award.
I remember a few years back, doing a property deal in a hospital. Our client (a seller) was seriously ill and his family needed him to sign in front of the notary. After some explaining and a heck of a lot of planning, the deal was done, at Peter’s hospital bed! Margarita, the notary, knows we are serious and when we explained it was the only option, she did it!
We sued a major Spanish bank last year on behalf of a client who had lost 60,000 euro ten years ago and we won! The bank had not carried out their duty of care and so they refunded the money to our client, plus interest!
We were the first (that we know of) law firm on the Costa Blanca who offered No Win No fee legal cases. Other firms do it now but at that time it was revolutionary. Basically, if a client needs to sue a bank/builder/developer etc where there is a clear financial loss to the client, we can do it. Better than that, if we agree, the client has an option where they pay nothing. If (and usually when) we win, we take a cut of the profits. The great thing for the client especially those who are disillusioned with the legal system in Spain is that we carry all the risk.
We are helping clients to get tourist licences- i.e. we are making it legal for them to rent their property on the Costa Blanca. Estate agents, let’s be honest, have one job- to sell the client a property. (Please note: yes I’m aware that I was an estate agent for 15 years in Spain…. We sold our real estate company in 2018, so finally I’m completely neutral in the Estate agent debate!!! Ian. )
But, if the agents job is to sell the property and that’s it, well will they be tempted to take a short cut? Do they even know how to get a tourist (short term rental) licence for a property owner in Spain? Probably not. For sure, didn’t know everything when I was an agent, nor did I pretend to. All I did was pass the client to Spanish Solutions and let them take care of it.
On the Real Estate issue, there are two reasons the estate agent can do wrong by his client.
They do not know the rules.
They know the rules but they ignore them on purpose. (Because they get paid on a commission only basis).
The vast majority of Spanish estate agents, especially the Irish and British agents we know, are honest and can be trusted. Even so, our clients benefit from using Spanish Solutions for their property completions in Spain. The two questions we encourage our expat buyers to ask themselves are:
What if the agent you picked is in the 15% of agents we don’t trust?
What if your estate agent does not know the law in Spain as well as she thinks?
Remember, the reason many Spanish property deals go wrong in the notary does not matter as much as the fact that it has happened. If you lose money, it doesn’t really matter who is to blame.
What can go wrong?
We´ve seen, especially with clients who do not use a lawyer, some terrible results.
Clients have bought houses with existing debt on it.
They have bought property with a pool or extension that is not registered on the deeds.
There is still a builder’s mortgage on the property.
Spanish Solutions attended an eviction last January, relating to one of our clients. She had not employed a lawyer when she purchased and we arrived late in the process, yet saved the day. The eviction was cancelled ultimately. How much easier though if the buyer had just used us to complete back 8 years ago!
Clients lose their deposits all the time. It’s hard to believe, but some buyers sign contracts and pay deposits directly to the agent, without having us check over the contract! For such a big purchase, what difference will an extra day make? If the agent pushes the buyer to sign there and then, usually this is a bad sign!
People have bought new build property without knowing there is a bank guarantee in place.
Not so much now, but we had many clients years ago who purchased and never got their deeds. Let’s say that again, they paid the money to the agent, over 100,000€ in each case in fact- and never owned the houses!
We´ll discuss in other blog posts all that can go wrong, but trust me, it can happen and it does. If you have a good lawyer you dramatically reduce the chances of something going wrong.
Very often, if the buyer contacts us first, before they even meet their agent, we can negotiate with the agent that they pay our fees. It makes sense- the agencies need us too and we can represent and help all parties involved.
Too many times clients come to us, saying the same thing. “We signed a contract yesterday, paid our deposit but something feels wrong”. If it feels wrong, its because it is.
Whether or not you employ Spanish Solutions, I think if you are buying a property in Spain, you should find your law firm first. It’s not as much fun as looking for the actual house, but, it’s even more vital. Really,
we should concentrate on the thousands, tens of thousands of people in fact, we know are the Costa Blanca who bought their property and everything went like a dream!
Clients who have bought through Spanish Solutions now use us for many more services than just house purchase. If you fall in love with the service, you´ll use us as often as you can.
We provide a service to write our clients Wills.
The team can apply for and get NIEs – the Spanish tax number.
Over 3,000 of our buyers get their yearly tax returns done by us
Our commercial department can encourage and help people open businesses in Spain.
Licences, certificates, planning permission- Antonio our architect who will deal with that.
There are not many services we can’t provide to expats in Spain!
So, the subject of this blog is how we are going to help clients in areas like;
We know clients need us. We have our Facebook page and Nicola deals with the leads which come in through the regular website. We do hardly any advertising, and yet…. we are inundated with enquiries. More and more the enquiry states “do you know a company like yours who can represent us in Alicante, Marbella or Palma”.
This service we offer is good for our clients, it’s good for the agents, it’s good for the banks/developers/builders- everyone wins. If deals do not get across the line, you the buyer do not get what you wanted (a dream house in Spain). The builder does not sell his house and the estate agent gets ZERO commission. We help everyone.
However, as a legal and accounting firm, we need (or so we thought) to be careful with our advertising. It’s a serious business, making sure clients do not lose money when buying property in Spain right? We did not want to cause too big of a ruckus. We decided to stick to the old tried and trusted marketing – some advertising in local newspapers, a facebook page/blog and word of mouth. It is fabulously effective but now it’s time for something more.
If our services are as good as we think they are, it is our duty to make sure all clients know who we are. They can choose not to use us, but at least if they know we exist and decide not to use us well, that’s on them. Our obligation as a pioneering Law and Accounting firm in Spain is to do things differently. I read a quote recently, Tim Ferriss I think- “if your competitors (at least some of them) do not hate you, you are doing it wrong”.
I think he could have been writing that about Spanish Solutions. Ian, (me, as founder) has no legal or accounting training. We rely totally on Spanish lawyers, accountants, architects, notaries and more. It must be tough on the old school accountants and lawyers to see us picking up clients who rave about us, and who are not using them. Genuinely we do not mind to see those law companies become so successful. I´m not sure if they feel the same about an Irish company coming into the market and not just surviving the recession but filing 8,000 completed tasks. We really do change the way people do their legal work here in Spain.
That’s what the Alicante office is all about. One genuine reason why clients do not use Spanish Solutions is the physical act of getting here. Take the areas mentioned already. Alicante, Elche, Gran Alacant etc. All are popular areas for expats to buy property on the Costa Blanca. I can understand why the client may just use the local lawyer rather than jump in their car and drive 45 minutes or more to come to meet us. Once the client is in front of a Spanish Solutions representative, they will sign up with us, but how do we get more clients to understand this?
If we have a presence on the ground in Alicante that will help. We have a unique selling proposition however, that we think our clients will love. Spanish Solutions will come to meet you, wherever you are.
Let’s say that you are in the hotel, trying to decide who to deal with. (Which Spanish builder/agent etc.) Spanish Solutions will come to meet you. We´ll sit down with you and talk you through the process.
Now imagine that you are ready to buy that dream home in Spain. We´ll accompany you to the estate agent’s office. We´ll check the contract and hold your hand. It’s good for the agent too, assuming they have nothing to hide. We´ll make sure you get your home in Alicante, the agent gets the commission and the deal gets across the line in the notary.
Estate agents are busy, especially now with the lift in the market in 2019. They don’t have time to chase around looking for electricity, water or community bills from the seller. They don’t want to line up to get your NIE number. Possibly, they have not got the levels of Spanish, or certainly legal qualifications to get the deeds in your name! We´ll liaise with the Spanish builder, the bank, the notary everyone if fact and we´ll get the deal done quicker, cheaper and with minimal fuss.
Can you see now why the trustworthy agents want to deal with us and having us in the office to check details helps everyone?
In certain cases, where an agency is closing a large number of deals (especially city centre Alicante) we think they may want us to have a semi permanent presence in their office. When we owned Comaskey Properties for example, Spanish Solutions were literally doing a deal a day in our offices. Even though I was one of the owners of Spanish Solutions, clients felt they were getting an independent voice, someone on their side of the table when it came to negotiation.
Spanish Solutions were there to protect us too remember, so if they discovered that a particular property had a problem with debt or planning they would advise us to get away from the deal ASAP. The client had a decision to make. A) cancel the purchase and get a refund of the deposit B) wait and give the seller time to sort it.
What a confidence booster for the buyer. The agent was actually looking for problems. We used to use the line “no problems only solutions” but that was not always true! Some of the problems were terminal and the deals were cancelled. It was so much better for all concerned however that the difficulty was discovered early before we had booked the notary or worse. What if we discovered the problem after completion when it was too late!
FEES: Real estate lawyer fees in Spain do vary. Back in the day, the standard was a 3% fee on the purchase price – madness. We introduced a flat fee back in 2005 and most firms now use that model today. Its best to contact a Spanish real estate lawyer directly either by email or walk-in to understand the costs associated with their services. Find this out early, but if you play your cards right, the developer or agent may well cover the fees for you! Always contact your law firm first!!
Please remember, Just like everything in today’s world, not all lawyers in Spain are created equally. Price should not be the only factor as to which firm you choose. The onus is very much on you to investigate and to get it right. Experience in Spain and the level of service you will receive are very important factors when picking a law firm. Another very important consideration is my pet hate- a lack of communication. You should not have to chase the law firm. If they are too hard to get hold of, either they are too busy for you or don’t care. Either way, they are not your lawyers in Spain!!
In a nutshell, your law office in Spain (and hopefully soon in Alicante to be precise) should provide you with the confidence in knowing your Spanish property transaction is being completed with the utmost care.
That is the minimum you deserve. Spanish Solutions have been providing these services for many years now on the Costa Blanca. If you are looking to buy a property in Alicante, we are here to help you. We will come to you, wherever you are. You will get the same access to our accountants, fiscal representatives and everything every other client gets. All you need to do is get in touch with us as early as you can in the process and then sit back, relax and remember you have nothing to worry about when you choose Spanish Solutions.
Ian Comaskey 13/5/1019