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Types of properties that you can buy in Spain

As you read through the ads from real estate agents in Spain, you are likely to come across certain terms that describe the type of building that is offered for sale. Unfortunately most ads you will find will be in Spanish, which is why we have prepared this list with the most common types of property that are being sold. Although some types of building can be very similar, understanding the main differences is important to know what type of property you can expect. Depending on your budget and personal needs, you will be more likely to choose one type or the other:

  • Villa. Villas are luxury country houses which usually belong to a residential complex. The villas that build the community will share facilities, such as tennis courts, swimming pools and a common clubhouse. Although separated from the rest by walls, they will share a common gate, whereas each villa keeps its own courtyard. Luxury villas are a popular type of property among expats and often make a good investment. Having many English speaking neighbours and having a shared management also makes them easier to rent out during absence periods.
  • Bungalow. A bungalow is a single-storey house with a rustic appearance, generally built in a natural environment near coastal resorts. In Spain, bungalows normally have a wooden surface, dormer windows and upper rooms in the roof.
  • Chalet. The original Swiss “chalet” was a traditional one-family house with a sloping roof, built inside a piece of land. The building would be surrounded by a garden or by land used for livestock. However, in Spanish the word chalet applies to practically all kinds of detached houses located near coastal and mountain areas and used for holiday rental purposes. The expression “chalet adosado”refers to small cabanes that are attached together and they have a garden area or not.
  • Duplex. A building with several storeys, which are connected with stairs or a lift. Duplex houses are a popular choice for big families.
  • Ático. An attic or garret is a single-storey flat located at the top of a block of flats, right below the pitched roof. The big advantage of this form of property is that they usually provide good views of the surrounding areas.
  • Finca. Finca is in fact a technical word that refers to any piece of land in Spain. There are three different types of fincas:
    • the rural finca, which has an agricultural use (cottages and farms)
    • the industrial finca, which is exploited for commercial purposes and for businesses
    • the urban finca, the only ones where a private house can be built in.
  • Apartamento. In English we use the words “flat” and “apartment”, depending on the linguistic variety we are using (British or American). However, a Spanish “apartamento” or “studio” is usually a one-room unit, integrating the living-room with the bedroom. If there are two bedrooms, it will be considered a “piso”. This same structure in older buildings with high ceilings is what we call a “loft”.
  • Urbanización. “Urbanizaciones” are groups of blocks that share certain facilities, such as a garden or a swimming pool, as a part of a residential complex. These residential complexes have the advantage of having entertainment areas for children and camera surveillance.

Once you have found the type of property that meets your basic needs, you can start to organise the first visits. In any event, we recommend you to visit all properties with a second person and remember to get legal advice from a lawyer who speaks your language. The Legal & Tax Help will be pleased to support you throughout the whole buying process, especially with the burocratic aspects of property convenyancing.