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It's all positive news this quarter.In most northern European countries, including Scotland, but sadly not England, all sellers of properties have to provide factually correct information packs – ‘Home Reports’ – to potential buyers.

In some countries, these are prepared by state registered inspectors, whilst in others the estate agent is legally responsible for any errors or omissions.

If the packs prove to be significantly erroneous or even fraudulent, the seller can withdraw from the sale, even after they have moved into the property.

Unfortunately, it’s a completely liberated system in Spain, where nobody takes responsibility for anything and even the buyer can renege, pleading ‘in good faith’ if they didn’t check anything themselves. Property descriptions by agents on the internet and in their details, can be at best ‘mistaken’, but sometimes, either through their or the seller’s ‘optimism’, appear to be deliberately misleading.

What has brought on this rant? We are researching properties all the time and this morning we’ve found a property listed seven times by different agents on a multi-listing website, that are all different in price, floor area and plot size, but which all have photos that are either identical or are clearly of the same building. And how many will have a current Nota Simple and Energy certificate available for all enquirers, as required by law? Damn few in my experience.

The Nota Simple I can understand, as some properties take months and years to sell and to keep it no less than 3 month’s old would be a running expense. But the energy certificate (CEE in Spain) is inexcusable. It lasts for 10 years, is obligatory to have to register the sale, both the seller and the agent will be fined if the Junta’s inspectors find it’s not available to potential buyers, and still the majority of properties on the Costas are marketed without it.

That’s just silly.

Talking of silly things, there’s Brexit. Now there’s talk of more potential for ‘Brexit Lite’ or ‘Brexit Descafeinado’ as I’ve heard it called here, where the UK will pay the EU to keep some of the privileges. So, we pull out of the EU to save money and then pay that money to receive less privileges than we had before. That’s clever!

The Brexit effect may only be creeping into the UK economy, but it’s hit here with a bang.

A recent survey by Spanish Property Insight has reported that the Spanish Property Registrars have recorded 16% less sales to UK buyers in the 3rd quarter 2016 compared to last year; the first drop for many years. The overall picture in SPI’s survey was of a big decline in British buyer interest in the months leading up to, and just after the referendum, with that interest now continuing at a much lower level.

But it’s not bad news for everyone. The reduction in numbers of UK sterling buyers was compensated for by euro or other currency buyers, taking advantage of reduced competition and sterling sellers being prepared to accept lower euro prices as the conversion to sterling meant they were still receiving more pounds than expected.

So, parlez-vous anglais, sprichtst du Englisch, spreekt u Engels, pratar de Engelska, or even ¿habla usted Inglés

First published in Olive Press 10th December 2016