Community properties in Spain are incredibly popular, particularly amongst the ex-pat community who are looking to move to Spain. A community property is one that has at least one communal element, for example, a shared pool, golf course, garden, or even a shared hallway. Because the definition of a community property is so broad, the term can apply to a wide range of different housing options: from apartments to townhouses and villas.
Effectively, buying a community property means becoming part of a Community of Property owners, who will share responsibility for the use, upkeep, and maintenance of the communal areas that they contain. If you choose to buy a community property then it’s important to consider the expenses that this will involve: you will be responsible for the upkeep of any communal areas on a pro rata basis. The terms, payments and costs will vary from community to community, so it’s important to establish these in writing before you commit to purchasing a community property.
Trying to decide whether community living is right for you? There are several pros and cons of the community living set up, which we will discuss in this piece:
The Pros of Choosing a Community Property
If you speak to anyone who lives in a community property, they will probably give you a long list of reasons why they love it: and there are plenty to choose from! Some of the positives of choosing a community property include:
- Security - When you share certain features with other property owners, they will have a vested interest in looking out for your property. After all, if someone vandalises your pool, they’re vandalising their pool too! The overall security of your property will be increased with neighbours looking out for it, and for you.
- Sense of Community – Just as the word community implies, community properties tend to be social places, where neighbours build positive relationships with each other. This makes it a great way to meet new people if you’ve recently moved to the area, or the the country.
- Shared Chores – Hate mowing the lawn? Dread raking leaves from your pool? These chores are done for you when you live in a community, for a price of course! Because ownership is shared, the responsibility and cost of upkeep is also shared.
- Lower Taxes - Budget conscious homeowners will be interested to know that community properties typically have cheaper property taxes than a detached homes, although of course this will depend on the property you choose.
- Improve your Lifestyle – As a general rule, community properties are a great option for homeowners that want a pool, garden, or even a golf course, but don’t have the budget to afford one independently. You can have all the benefits of these facilities, but without being solely responsible for the expense.
The Cons of Choosing a Community Property
With all those pros, everyone should be living in a community property, right? Unfortunately, like so many things, for every positive of living in a community property other people may also find a negative. In reality, whether it is the right choice for you depends on your lifestyle and your personality type! Here is a comprehensive list of cons of choosing a community property:
- Money, Money, Money – Whilst living in a community property means you share the cost of your facilities, you can’t control how high the community fees for these services may be. They can also increase overtime, so it’s important to consider whether you will be able to afford the fees if they increase annually.
- You Can’t Choose Your Neighbours – Not a fan of Bob down the road? You share a garden, pool, or hallway with him, so there’s no escape! If you don’t enjoy the social aspect of swimming with your neighbours then sharing these facilities might not be the right choice for you.
- Noise Complaints – Many community properties are used, at least in part, as holiday lets. This means that you could find you have noisy or disruptive tourists for neighbours every now and again. Something to consider if you value peace and quiet.
- Rules and Regulations - Not a big fan of rules? Then a community might not be the right choice for you! Many have long lists of rules about what you can and can’t do in communal areas: conversely, others may not have enough rules, and you may not like the way others in your community choose to use the communal areas.
Understanding the Costs Involved
One of the main concerns that many prospective buyers have when considering a community property is how much it will cost. There is no flat rate estimate we can give you here, as these fees vary wildly from community to community. But we do advise that you ask to see fee statements from the previous five years, to give you an idea of what the fees will be, and what the annual fee increases are too, to ensure you can afford the costs of living in a community.
What you should know is that the community fees are non-negotiable: you can’t suddenly decide you don’t want to pay them! A new Community Law was set up to help to remove property owners who don't pay their fees: nonpayers can be taken before a judge and have their property sold at auction in order to cover their debts. The more communal areas there are, the larger you can expect the fees to be. The cost will be based on your share for the maintenance and upkeep of the communal areas: you can see this in percentage form on the property deeds.
Some of the items that your community fees may be used to cover include: the use of a caretaker, cleaner, gardener, road cleaning, decoration maintenance, insurance, water supply, pool cleaning and satellite TV. The more of these services that are offered, the more you can expect to pay. But do remember that, because you are sharing these costs with the other property owners, you will still be getting a good deal compared to the costs of hiring each of these service providers individually.
Key Questions When Viewing a Community Property
If your estate agent shows you a community property, then there are several questions you should ask, to ensure that it is the right fit for you:
- What are the fees? Don’t take anyone’s word for this, ask to see written evidence before you commit to purchasing a property
- How big is the community? Sharing a pool with 10 families will be a very different proposition to sharing it with 100 families. What number would work best for you?
- Can I meet the neighbour? Do you like them? And do they live in the property full time or do they rent it out?
- What facilities are included with the purchase?
- What do the fees cover?
- What is your share of the property deeds?
- What are the rules and regulations? Can you see a written copy of these before you commit to the purchase?
- Is the community well managed? Chat to other owners (you’re sure to meet them in the communal areas) to establish if they are happy with the way the community is run.
Have you decided a community property is the right option for you? Or perhaps you’d prefer your own secluded property without any nearby neighbours? Whatever kind of home you’re looking for, our local property experts can help you find it! Get in touch with our team today, to make your property search a success.