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The Buying Process


Why Asturias had this effect is difficult to explain.  I could try to quantify the Asturias effect in words but in all probability would fail. We have been fans of Spain for a long time and have spent time in Girona, Barcelona, Seville and Madrid. We have enjoyed family holidays on the Costa Brava, in Menorca, and Andalucia. Whilst these locations have been delightful places in which to spend a couple of weeks I have never felt any compulsion to create a more permanent connection.

From our first trip to Oviedo in 2005 something felt different about Asturias. Arriving at Asturias airport, when the weather is clear, is pretty spectacular as the aircraft makes its final approach you come in over the sea, in front of you stretches a magnificent coastline with a seemingly endless string of golden sand beaches punctuated by awesome, dramatic coves. The aircraft appears to be landing on one of these beaches as you touch down on the tarmac..

On driving away from the airport it must take all of 3 or 4 minutes before you are surrounded by quite stunning countryside.  Half an hour later will find you a few kilometers from Aviles, Oviedo and Gijon, the three main cities of Asturias, each with a very different yet equally charming atmosphere. Gijon with its elegant promenade curving gently around the huge sweep of sand which is San Lorenzo beach. Aviles, a gritty atmospheric and industrial town and Oviedo the old capital.


Our house is less than 45 minutes from all of them, 40 minutes from some of the most gorgeous beaches in Europe and 40 minutes from the Picos de Europa mountain range complete with ski resort.  We have several beautiful rivers within 10 to 15 minutes drive offering trout and salmon fishing along with kayaking.  Cycling is huge in Asturias and given the great roads and the lack of motorised traffic this is no real surprise, although the somewhat hilly nature could deter the less super fit! Maybe a quad bike might be more appropriate?

During the several weeks spent in Asturias over the past year or so, all of the above became more irresistible, and we have only scratched the surface, as with each trip we discover somewhere or something new. So, the case for buying a home here became overwhelming and then there was of course, the property market.


I first started to look at house prices in the region back around Easter 2006, more from curiosity than intent to actually buy anything at that point. Then, as now there were really only two sites offering services to the potential English speaking buyer. and Both these companies have teamed with some of the most well placed local agencies specialising in rural properties in Asturias. You can of course deal with the local agents yourself but make no mistake if you are anything less than highly competent in Spanish the chances are you will very quickly become overwhelmed by it all, as property prices seem to follow absolutely no logical pattern at all, and there is a huge difference between inadvertently mucking up an order for dinner and inadvertently buying a ‘bargain’ derelict cowshed with no planning permission except for a bigger cowshed!

Both Miriam at Asturian-properties and Ann at Costaverdeproperties really know their stuff and have developed strong working relationships with key people. We actually bought through Miriam and I know, had we not been able to ask and get answers to really complicated questions in English our transaction would have fallen over for sure.The entire process of buying could not be more different to that of the UK. It was explained to me that rarely does the agent have any say in the asking price of a house. This is determined by the owner by..... who knows what process?  The rural housing stock  is largely ignored by the domestic market. Most local people are opting for newly built flats or more suburban housing. Much of what is available is empty, often in need of restoration and sometimes almost derelict, so again putting a price on this is very difficult. One thing that is common is that everything you might view has absolutely stunning views and surrounded by drop dead gorgeous countryside, so ‘location, location, location’ can be a tricky rule to follow as how do you judge a ‘great location’?


Again I think this is more about how you feel than how you think.  From the first visit, we really liked Infiesto. I don’t know why but there was just a great feeling about this place  This is just as well as it is our local town. We know people who have bought in Villaviciosa, Arriondas  and spots in between. I think you have just got to trust to your gut reaction. For us Infiesto was just where we wanted to be, it just felt right.  If you are looking for a property on the coast you will need a pretty hefty budget.  Personally I have always found the prospect of seaside tourist towns out of season pretty depressing, so it was never an issue. Infiesto is a working town which has little to do with conventional tourism and as a consequence feels ‘real’ which I think is very important if you intend spending time throughout the whole year.

Another plus for us was that Infiesto has an FEVE train station. This great little railway connects up to all sorts of places and although not the quickest means of transport, I love it to bits, and cheap?! A family of 4 can make a round trip of about 60 miles for the price of one peak time 10 minute trip on Southwest trains. Plus, you get piped Mozart, stunning scenery rolling by, a friendly conductor and the distinct impression you have become a character in Ivor the Engine, Spanish style.


Actually buying the house was fairly straightforward (this is not, I understand always the case). We made an offer and worked up to one which was acceptable. I am told that sometimes offering on a house may be construed as insulting but I don’t see an alternative if you like something but can’t afford the asking price?  Nevertheless, caution should be exercised if you are just ‘trying it on’

Once you have agreed a price you will need to carry out all your enquiries, surveys inspections etc before you pay a deposit, as if you change your mind once you pay your 10%, tough, you have blown it and getting your money back will be difficult, well, actually more like impossible. On the flipside, if the vendor decides to back out they must pay you twice the amount of your deposit so this might explain why the practice of gazumping isn’t very common.

Other factors that are worthy of note that we encountered include a strange absence of stress in property transactions, it seems that whilst property is clearly a valuable commodity in Asturias it is not (at least in our experience) the all pervading obsession we are now used to in the UK. There are for example, no queues of people fighting for the opportunity of mortgaging themselves into oblivion to buy an airing cupboard with en-suite bathroom. This I suspect has more to do with the culture than the market.

There are a few significant differences in process to the UK system. Surveys and searches are not obligatory. Neither indeed is a solicitor, but remember its your money you are playing with so unless you are extremely confident or very stupid it is probably a good idea to get some professional help.

You will need to obtain an NIE number to purchase in Spain which involves hanging about at a government office and filling out forms (again a good idea to get help with this) and finally visiting the Notario for the signing of the deeds, this is an interesting and potentially nerve wracking experience which involves all parties involved in the house transaction crowding into a room at the local town hall, where the Notario (a sort of solicitor for the local government,) reads out the contract and then presides over the official, legal and binding signing. This was pretty straightforward in our case but we have heard some real horror stories of long lost relatives turning up out of nowhere and throwing a spanner in the works in the sale. So, beware extended family house sales!

At the end of summer 2009 we have certainly made a few changes to our house, and plenty still needs to be done, but, we still absolutely adore it, it was still the absolute right thing to do, and everytime we leave I can't wait to return.