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Real estate in Malta

By Jozef Spiteri
This article is published on: 2nd March 2022


One asset class which the Maltese are very fond of is real estate. This love has been passed down from previous generations, which saw the value of their properties rise and rise as the years went by. Even though real estate remains a solid asset, individuals who are looking to start their investment journey must understand that the market today is far removed from where it was 50 years ago. Let me explain.

In the mid to late 20th century, Malta was still very underdeveloped, slowly recouping from the devastation suffered in the second world war. As the baby boomers grew up and became young adults, and expats, particularly from southern Italy, made their way to the Maltese islands, demand for property started to grow. Many Maltese realised that an opportunity was on the horizon and several local entrepreneurs began to buy land and develop it. The initial outlay was relatively affordable, even for those days, with sales or rents practically guaranteed for the newly erected properties. Realising how lucrative this market was, more inhabitants started investing in property and for most individuals this became the perfect investment which would see them, at the very least, retire comfortably.

Fast forward to 2022 and property in Malta has become very expensive and relatively scarce. Prices continued to soar, partly due to the constant increase in demand, but also the lack of regulation which encouraged property sales at high prices, contributing to the inflated valuations we see today.

What does this mean for young adults who are looking to buy their first piece of land/property? Coupled with the high interest rates being charged by Maltese banks for mortgages, and below average salaries earned in Malta, this market has become very difficult to access, and those who do manage to strike a deal will still see themselves paying very expensive loans for many years, hindering further investment for quite some time.

real estate in Malta

Is there an alternative investment solution? 
This is where a suitably experienced professional adviser can help, by thoroughly analysing your current financial situation together with short and longer term intentions, and then proposing appropriate, flexible planning solutions.  At The Spectrum IFA Group, we provide our clients with easy access to a wide range of investment options matched to individual circumstances.

If you are interested in further understanding what we do, feel free to contact us. Initial consultations are free of charge and there is no obligation to proceed with our suggestions.

I want to sell my property in Portugal | How much tax do I have to pay?

By Mark Quinn
This article is published on: 11th January 2022


Capital gains tax is charged on the sale of all property in Portugal. Whilst this is less of a problem if you have found your dream home and want to spend many years living there, it is a more significant consideration if your intention is to buy a property for the short term or for investment purposes.

If you purchased the property prior to January 1989 there is no tax on the gain realised on sale. In all other instances, 50% of the gain is taxable and inflation relief can also be applied if the property was held for more than 2 years. The gain is then added to your other income for the year and taxed at the scale rates of income tax.

Despite the potential for high rates of tax on sale, there is main residence relief available if you reinvest the proceeds into another main home in Portugal (or the EU/EEA). Certain other conditions apply but in general, the gain will be exempt from taxation if all the proceeds are reinvested. Any portion not used to purchase another main home (or reinvested in a savings plan/ pension) will be taxed.

selling property in Portugal

In recent years a new relief has been introduced which allows reinvestment into a qualifying long term savings plan or pension. This will be looked at next when we discuss downsizing, as this is a  very useful relief for those wishing to downsize later in life.

These 2 reliefs can be used in conjunction with each other allowing for greater tax planning opportunities.

Please note, Non Habitual Residence (NHR) status does not have an impact on the taxation of Portuguese property. The tax treatment is the same for NHR and normal residents.

Mortgage Rates in Spain

By Spectrum IFA
This article is published on: 31st January 2020


At Spectrum International Mortgages we do an annual update on the rate development in Spain. We do this every year in February and this year will be no different.

As ever, the rates we mention are based on the market at the moment of publishing and we cannot guarantee that these rates will be available in the future, nor that they will be applicable to every individual case. Additionally, it is worth noticing that the banks in Spain still do not offer interest only mortgages, which means that both the fixed rate mortgages and variable rate mortgages are capital repayment loans.

Duration in years rate in % (with correct client profile)
10 2.00
15 2.10
20 2.25
25 2.35
30 2.50

Looking at variable rates, we observe around 1.2-1.5%+EURIBOR

Get a Spanish Mortgage Quote

As opposed to last year, we are now seeing that the Spanish banks have a bigger focus on financial profile rather than residential status. This means that although non-residents are still offered a lower LTV than residents, the fact that they are non-residents no longer has the same impact on rates, terms and conditions as it did last year around the same time.

The rates above are still so called “clean” rates, meaning that except for the first year, there are no other products from the bank attached. It is still normal practise for the banks to have clients set up e.g. different insurances, credit cards, investment funds or pension plans to decrease the rate. Arranging a mortgage through us, you will be able to avoid this in the vast majority of cases. Every case is handled individually and rates will vary depending on individual circumstances, but as a guideline, this is a realistic scenario for the moment.

How will that unfold for a mortgage of 280,000€?

To apply this in reality, let me provide you with an example of how a mortgage of 280,000€ could look when going through Spectrum International Mortgages:

Property price 400,00€
Mortgage amount 280?000€ (70%)
Duration in years 20
Fixed rate 2.25%
Monthly instalments 1,449.86€

Cash needed to complete the operation 168,000€ (30% down payment ->120,000€ plus approximately 12% taxes and costs -> 48,000€ = TOTAL of 168,000€

Products contracted for the first year: life and house insurance. After the first year both insurances can be cancelled with the bank and set up externally, which is normally advisable.

For more information, please contact our specialists in the mortgage team

Acheter un appartement à Barcelone : bonne ou mauvaise idée ?

By Cedric Privat
This article is published on: 15th October 2019


Vous êtes nombreux à vous poser la question du choix entre l’investissement immobilier et le placement financier, dans l’objectif de faire croître votre patrimoine.

  • Investir dans la pierre est souvent considéré comme une valeur sure, mais est-ce toujours le cas malgré la flambée des prix des dernières années?
  • Faire un placement financier permet de conserver une liquidité et bénéficier d’une imposition avantageuse, mais avec les taux fixes au plus bas et l’inflation actuelle il est désormais impératif de prendre un certain risque

Avant toute décision, il sera important de comprendre les avantages et inconvénients de ces deux options. Nous étudierons dans un premier temps via cet article l’achat immobilier à Barcelone.

Depuis les jeux olympiques de 1992, Barcelone est devenue une des villes les plus attractives d’Europe: à visiter, y vivre, y travailler et pourquoi pas investir?
La ville plaît beaucoup aux français, plus de 20 000 d’entre eux y vivent toute l’année et on ne compte plus les milliers de touristes quotidiens qui affluent de toutes parts.

À seulement 150 km de la frontière, la ville attire par son soleil, ses plages, ses montagnes proches, sa qualité de vie, sa culture, sa population cosmopolite, sa bonne connexion TGV/avion, etc.
Cet engouement comporte néanmoins certains revers dont tout futur investisseur doit tenir compte; notamment une insécurité croissante ces dernières années, une situation politique instable et des lois souvent en faveur du locataire (voir même okupas/squatteurs) en cas de conflit avec le propriétaire. La crise du marché immobilier de 2008 a également inquiété de nombreux particuliers projetant un achat à Barcelone.

Première question: achat perso (pour y vivre) ou achat locatif ?

  • Si vous comptez rester à Barcelone pour le long terme, un achat personnel s’avère souvent être la meilleure solution. Finis les loyers, vous serez enfin chez vous et pourrez potentiellement faire une plus-value si vous gardez ce bien assez longtemps. Mais attention au marché en haut de cycle; des études démontrent qu’actuellement une acquisition ne sera financièrement avantageuse par rapport à une location que si on garde le bien au moins 10 ans. Une revente rapide sera synonyme de moins-value; une stabilité professionnelle et familiale est donc indispensable
  • Pour un achat locatif vous devrez dans un premier temps évaluer le taux de rentabilité brut (diviser le revenu locatif annuel par le prix total du bien), si le résultat est inférieur à 6 % brut alors le rendement n’est pas suffisant (voir le paragraphe “Les coûts” ci-dessous pour avoir une estimation du résultat net). Aucun achat ne doit être fait sans une étude et un calcul précis

Il sera important de ne pas diaboliser le fait de rester en location. L’expression “jeter ses loyers par la fenêtre” est dépassée car nombreuses villes se sont avérées à une certaine période être plus rentables en location qu’à l’achat. Vous gardez ainsi votre liberté, vivez dans une superficie plus grande et n’avez pas à supporter les coûts et impôts d’un propriétaire. Nous aspirons pour la plupart à être propriétaire un jour, attention néanmoins à ne pas se précipiter.

La situation du marché ?
Le prix du marché doit ensuite être étudié, il vaut bien entendu toujours mieux acheter quand les prix sont bas.

Le marché à Barcelone est haut même s’il n’a pas encore atteint les chiffres de 2007, les prévisions annoncent une stabilité pour 2019/2020.

Crédit bancaire en Espagne: comment ça marche ?
Si vous êtes résident fiscal en Espagne vous devrez certainement passer par une banque locale pour votre prêt (peu de banques françaises vous accompagneront, à moins d’avoir un bien en France).

Un maximum de 80 % du prix du bien peut vous être prêté (70 % si non-résident), pour une durée maximum de 30 ans (jusqu’à l’âge limite de 70 ans). Il vous faudra donc un apport de 20 %.

Les espagnols sont habitués aux taux variables (très faibles ces dernières années), ce qui signifie que vous êtes dépendants de l’Euribor (taux de référence du marché monétaire de la zone euro), mais en cas de hausse de celui-ci vous risqueriez de voir vos mensualités fortement augmenter. Nombreux sont ceux qui ont perdu leur bien pour cette raison il y a 10 ans.

Depuis quelques années les banques espagnoles proposent de plus en plus un taux fixe comme le font le plus souvent les banques françaises. Vos mensualités resteront donc inchangées sur l’ensemble de votre prêt bancaire. Les taux sont plus élevés qu’en France, actuellement comptez entre 2.2 et 2.7 % pour un prêt sur 30 ans en Espagne

Quels sont les coûts ?
L’imposition sur un achat immobilier en Catalogne s’élève à 10 % du prix d’achat (11 % à partir de € 1 million). À cela s’ajoute les frais de notaire et frais divers liés à l’achat: comptez entre 3 et 4 %.

Comme évoqué précédemment, un apport de 20 % étant demandé par les banques en Espagne, l’apport global nécessaire est donc de 34 %.

Cas pratique: pour un appartement vendu € 300 000: le nouveau propriétaire doit donc s’assurer de posséder une liquidité de € 102 000 (impôt € 42 000 et apport € 60 000).

Être propriétaire vous impose également des coûts annuels qui viennent s’ajouter à vos mensualités bancaires:

  • IBI (Impuesto sobre Bienes Inmuebles), équivalent de la taxe foncière française
  • Assurances et impôts divers (tels ordures ménagères)
  • Charges de copropriété
  • Travaux d’entretien, maintenance, remplacement des gros équipements, rénovation (votés lors des réunions de copropriété ou obligatoire telle la rénovation énergétique)
  • Si vous louez ce bien, vous devrez éventuellement ajouter les frais d’agence (surtout si vous n’habitez pas à Barcelone) et le coût lorsque l’appartement n’est pas loué. Sans vouloir être négatif; il ne faut pas occulter les éventuels frais de justice ou d’expulsion si vos locataires s’avèrent être mauvais payeurs ou insolvables.
  • Et bien entendu le coût d’un prêt bancaire qui varie selon le coût d’achat, les années et le taux négocié
  • Concrètement, en s’appuyant sur l’exemple ci-dessus, l’achat d’un bien de € 300 000, le prêt sollicité sera de € 240 000 (maximum 80 %)
    Supposons que la banque vous accorde un taux fixe sur 30 ans à 2.5 %, vos mensualités s’élèveront alors à € 948.29 soit un remboursement total de € 341 384.
    La banque vous facturera donc € 101 384 pour un prêt de € 240 000

En conclusion, il n’y a pas de réponse évidente à la question: “Acheter un appartement à Barcelone : bonne ou mauvaise idée?” car l’équation a souvent plusieurs inconnues et de nombreux paramètres sont à prendre en compte. Acquérir un bien immobilier est une décision importante, un engagement, qui peut correspondre parfaitement à certains particuliers, mais peut vite devenir un gouffre économique pour d’autres.

Comme toute décision importante il est indispensable de planifier, calculer et comparer les options disponibles. L’immobilier a constitué un excellent investissement pour la génération des baby boomers, mais il ne doit pas être une obligation ni une logique. Obtenir une plus-value n’est plus systématique et comme tout investissement un achat immobilier implique un risque: rien n’est garanti (“sauf la mort et les impôts” disait Benjamin Franklin).

Spectrum conseille à ses clients de toujours diversifier leurs investissements et garder un équilibre dans son patrimoine entre l’achat immobilier et le placement financier. Des alternatives d’investissement existent en France et en Espagne telles l’assurance-vie (2ème placement préféré des Français après l’immobilier) ou les SCPI (Société Civile en Placement Immobilier).

Nous nous proposons de vous guider en nous adaptant à votre situation, chiffrer les différentes alternatives et vous présenter l’ensemble des options disponibles sur le marché.

En Espagne comme en France, Spectrum possède également une section “courtier en prêt immobilier”. A votre demande, nos conseillers sont à votre disposition pour effectuer les recherches nécessaires auprès des banques. Ils sauront vous guider, négocier en votre nom et vous permettre d’obtenir un meilleur taux à moindre coût sans frais de remboursement anticipé.

N’hésitez pas à me contacter. En tant que consultant chez Spectrum, je me tiens à votre entière disposition pour étudier toutes demandes ou répondre à vos questions.

Are you thinking of selling your UK property or have you sold one recently?

By Tony Delvalle
This article is published on: 17th September 2018

Some UK solicitors have failed to inform clients of changes in UK legislation from April 2015, resulting in unexpected late payment penalties from HMRC for failure to complete a form following the sale of their UK property.

Recap of the new legislation
Prior to 6th April 2015, overseas investors and British expats were not required to pay Capital Gains Tax (CGT) on the sale of residential property in the UK, providing that they had been non-resident for 5 years. New legislation was introduced on 6th April 2015 that removed this tax benefit.

Since 6th April 2015, any gains are subject to CGT for non-UK residents. The rate of CGT for non-residents on residential property is, as for UK residents, determined by taxable UK income i.e. 18% basic rate band and 28% above, charged only the gain.

Reporting the gain and paying the tax
You must fill out a Non-Resident Capital Gains Tax (NRCGT) return online and inform HMRC within 30 days of completing the sale.

Those who do not ordinarily file a UK tax return must pay the liability within 30 days. Once you have notified HMRC that the sale has taken place, a reference number is given to make payment.

As a French resident you must also declare to the French tax authority.

The Double Taxation Treaty between the UK and France means that you will not be taxed twice as you will be given a tax credit for any UK CGT paid, but you will be liable to French social charges on any gain.

There is little to mitigate French tax on the sale of property that is not your principal residence. So, it is important to shelter the sale proceeds and other financial assets wherever possible to avoid unnecessary taxes in the future.

One easy way is by using a life assurance policy, a Contrat d’Assurance Vie, which is the favoured vehicle used by millions of French investors. Whilst funds remain within the policy they grow free of Income Tax and Capital Gains Tax. This type of investment is also highly efficient for Inheritance planning, as it is considered to be outside of your estate for inheritance purposes and you are free to name whoever and as many beneficiaries as you wish.

The French Property Exhibition

By Tony Delvalle
This article is published on: 29th August 2018


The Spectrum IFA Group at
The French Property Exhibition,
Olympia London, 15th – 16th September 2018

The Spectrum IFA Group is pleased to be exhibiting at The French Property Exhibition on the 15th and 16th September. Established over 25 years ago, this event is a ‘must attend’ for anyone who is serious about buying a property in France and is one of the UK’s most popular and long-running overseas property shows.

The show is the perfect opportunity to find out more about buying your dream home, with experts on hand to offer practical advice on a range of issues, from mortgage, tax, legal and investment matters, to guidance on wills, estate planning, pensions, currency transfers and more.

We are located at Stand 30, where our independent advisers and specialist mortgage representatives, all of whom live and work in France, will be available to answer questions and outline how we can help.
Event details are published on-line in advance of the show, giving you time to plan your day and ensure you get the most out of your visit. All sessions are free to attend, with tickets available on a first come, first served basis.
All visitors receive a complimentary copy of French Property News on arrival and a free show guide. Register for free fast-track entry now!

To book FREE tickets to the 2018 Olympia London event on the 15th & 16th September 2018, please click here.

We look forward to meeting you at stand 30.

Is Buy To Let still a good investment?

By Katriona Murray-Platon
This article is published on: 11th April 2018


Given concerns over the effect of Brexit on UK house prices, together with recent changes to the tax treatment of UK rental income and the various tax increases and reforms applicable to French property rentals, now may be the time to reconsider if Buy to Let is a good investment, both in France and the UK.

General arguments against rental investments
Most of us have an opinion on property as a means of generating long term investment returns. For some, a tangible asset such as property represents security, for others it is simply an inflexible and physical tie to a specific location.

Rental properties need regular maintenance and repairs, which can be expensive, and meeting such costs can divert cash from savings and other investments. Private landlords often underestimate the costs of maintaining a rental property, one consequence being that net returns fall short of (sometimes) unrealistic expectations.

It is a basic investment principle that we should not rely exclusively on property (or any single asset) for our future financial security, yet frequently we do, particularly where Buy To Let is involved.
Liquidity, or access to capital, also needs to be considered. Whilst you can usually withdraw funds quickly and easily from an investment portfolio (in France one often uses the Assurance Vie structure), you cannot generally sell part of a house. Re-mortgaging or equity release are possibilities, but for some the only option for capital access is sale of the property and acceptance of the associated expense and possible delays. Furthermore, a forced sale will typically result in lower than market value being achieved.

Both the French and UK governments are under pressure to boost national housing supply so are taxing second homes and rental properties in an effort to bring more residential property to the open market.

By comparison, for French residents (including expatriates), Assurance Vie remains as possibly the single most flexible and tax efficient investment available – a valuable planning opportunity which can be overlooked when property is perceived as a ‘safe bet’.

Keeping your UK property and renting it out
Legislative changes introduced in April 2017 significantly increased tax liabilities for residential landlords. Previously, allowable expenses and mortgage interest payments could be deducted from rental income as part of the tax calculation. However, the phasing out of tax relief on mortgage interest payments means that by 6 April 2020 mortgage costs will no longer be deductible, instead replaced with a 20% tax credit.

For many people, once settled in France, a UK rental property becomes impractical and difficult to maintain. Frequent trips back to the UK, for a variety of reasons, just don’t seem worthwhile. Being a landlord can be stressful and time consuming, especially when you want to be enjoying a more relaxed life in France and/or you are busy running your business here.

If your UK property remains vacant for occasional use during trips back to the UK, you could be affected by measures introduced in November 2017 which allow councils to charge a 100% Council Tax premium on homes that have been left empty for two years or more.

Additionally, since April 2015, non-residents are liable for capital gains tax (at either 18% or 28%) on the increase in property value since 2015. And from April 2019, the UK government plans to introduce capital gains tax for non-resident landlords of commercial properties.

Whilst house prices in some parts of the UK have increased substantially over recent years, there are wide regional variations and prices can of course go down as well as up. Flooding from adverse weather conditions has negatively impacted prices in many parts of the country. Brexit brings its own uncertainty for the housing market and there is also exchange rate risk to consider, with GBP/EUR volatility likely to continue in the short term at least. Finally, even with carefully managed quantitative tightening by central banks, interest rates appear to be going in only one direction from here.

Things to be aware of when renting property in France
Whilst the Finance Law of 2018 has increased the micro threshold from €33,200 to €70,000 (with a 50% abatement for costs), and from €82,800 to €170,000 for seasonal “classement” rentals (with a 71% abatement), it has also made furnished rentals more complicated for landlords, particularly for those offering short term lets.

To receive the higher abatement for furnished rentals, there is the challenge of arranging an official visit to obtain a recommended star rating. Since 1st December 2017, Paris requires property owners renting for short seasonal lets to register this activity and to display registration numbers on rental advertisements. Lyon did the same in February 2018, Bordeaux in March 2018 and Lille is in the decision process. Only 12,000 properties have been registered whereas 100,000 or more appear on rental websites. On 11th December 2017, Paris officially notified the largest rental sites (Airbnb, HomeAway, Paris Attitiude, Sejourning and Windu) that advertisements for unregistered properties were in breach of regulations.

Recent Finance law also approved a proposal to increase the taxe de sejour which today represents between 20 and 75 centimes per person, per night – it could increase by 1% to 5% if local authorities so decide.

The French government recognises that rental income made via websites such as Airbnb or HomeAway has often not been declared. Since 1st July 2016 these websites must inform members of their tax obligations and in January each year must send a document showing gross income received through reservations made via their site in the previous tax year.

There is also the risk that between November and March tenants will stop paying rent, with landlords powerless to evict until the winter period is over.

2018 changes to Wealth Tax have been particularly unfavourable for property holdings. Note too that social charges, which don’t apply to UK rental income but are chargeable on French furnished rentals, have risen to 17.8%. And that tax offices sometimes mistakenly apply social charges to UK rental income, which is then time-consuming to recover. However, since the Finance Law of 2018, social charges on investments are included in the flat tax of 30% thus reducing the income tax liability to only 12.2%.

Whether to sell or retain a rental property can be a difficult decision, for both financial and emotional reasons. For practical guidance on this complex matter, please contact me to arrange an initial discussion or meeting, free of charge and without obligation.

Is buying Property in Barcelona a good investment?

By Chris Burke
This article is published on: 29th June 2017


Over the years, we’ve heard the arguments as to which is the better investment: Property or investments. Both have their advantages and disadvantages, and there are several aspects of each that make them unique investments in their own way. To make money with either investment requires that you understand the positives and negatives of both.

Ever since the Olympic Games in 1992, Barcelona has become a very popular place to visit, live, work and invest.

Why is Barcelona such a great place to live?
From a logistical point of view, quality of life, the cost of living and the culture/the way people live here, it’s easy to see why Barcelona is such a popular place to live. It has a good International airport 15 minutes away by car that flies to most destinations, and the most popular several times a day (to London for example you have more than 30 flights a day in the summer). You can live as cheaply or as expensive as you wish and still enjoy the beautiful city (even the museums are free on at least one night of the year) as well as the surrounding countryside and beaches. With France only being just over an hour away, the Ski slopes two and a half, it’s easy to see why it’s such a popular place to live. The city has a very laid back feel and is easy to get around. I have never heard anyone say they have had enough in Barcelona, put it that way. Yes, it does have some problems like any city, notably organised theft but if you are aware of these then you can easily stay away from them.

Historically, mathematically, it is hard to beat Property as an investment if purely making an overall gain on the money you do invest is your end goal in Barcelona, just as in many other major cities. Property is something that you can physically touch and feel – it’s a tangible good and, therefore, for many investors, feels more real. For many decades this investment has generated consistent wealth and long term appreciation for millions of people. And therefore it should be part of anyone’s assets if they are able to afford one.

What you do have to consider though is why are you buying this property? Is it for a home i.e. an emotional purchase, or purely an investment? For what length of time? What is likely to happen in your life in the next 5-10 years? What currency do you have your money in now? These are some of the key questions to ask yourself.

If you are buying for a home, what you would call an emotional purchase, then in terms of evaluating as a good investment it’s almost irrelevant. This is going to be your home, so whether it goes up in value a great deal, a little or not at all (unlikely over a 15-20 year period) it’s about being happy living there, by yourself or with your family, is all that matters. It’s the memories that count perhaps more than anything else. As long as you don’t pay way over the market value for a property, in the long term you should be fine as an investment and as a home. If it’s purely for an investment, then you need to take into consideration a lot more factors.

If your money is in a different currency to Euros, is it a good time to change that?

Brexit (particularly if you are British)
Many would argue that keeping a ‘foot’ in the UK with assets or currency is a good thing to do. You never know what is going to happen, it gives you options in the future. You might not want all your assets in Euros, in case you decided to return to the UK as some people have. If there has been a big swing in currency against the pound, this could seriously limit where you do live/your options.

The Costs of Buying a Property in Barcelona
Buying a property in Catalonia is expensive. The costs of purchase are approximately 13% in total. Comparing that to the UK, which up to the value of £250,000 it would cost you approximately 3%, and over £250,000 it would be around 6%. Adding to that the cost of then selling your property at 5% in Barcelona as opposed to 2% in the UK, it is around 10% more expensive here than in the UK to buy and sell somewhere. So if you are looking for a short term investment and particularly if your money is in sterling, taking those factors into account it’s going to be more challenging to make it work for you.

If you are solely interested in investment return, then you have to look at the ‘Yield’ of a property and be unemotional regarding it. This tells you how much of an annual return you are likely to get on your investment. It is calculated by expressing a year’s rental income as a percentage of how much the property cost.

In other words, if the estimated monthly rental on a flat is €1,000, the annual rental would be 12 times that, or €12,000. And if the flat cost €200,000 to buy, then the “yield” would be described as 6% (annual rent, divided by the cost of the property, multiplied by 100). This is known as the ‘gross yield’ which is before all other expenses on running the apartment; the ‘Net Yield’ would be after all costs’.

Therefore, as an investment most professional property investors will not purchase anything less than 7% Yield (gross depending on the maintenance costs of the property annually) otherwise mathematically the property is not giving enough return, even though many will argue the price is increasing and therefore in real terms your investment is rising. But for most property investors, it’s ALL about the Yield.

It’s also all very well buying property in an upward market, as many investors will tell you. The secret to making a profit on property investing is very simple: buy at a good price and sell for much more. That all sounds very easy, but if the charges are excessive it could take quite a while for that to come to fruition.

However, Barcelona in general is on a good upward trend which helps, and also it’s clear to see that if you look hard enough, there are some bargains still to be found. And perhaps one of the biggest benefits of buying in Barcelona, is that you can fix your mortgage ‘for life’ at a very good rate at present, something which is unheard of in the UK. Currently you can get around 2.5% fixed for the life of your mortgage Let’s just think about that for a moment. So let’s say your mortgage is €1,000 a month now, in 25 years time it will STILL be €1,000 a month. Historically inflation goes up by 3% every year, meaning every 24 years inflation doubles. So, IF you could get a mortgage at the same rate in 24 years time it would be €2,000 a month, however it is more likely the rate will be higher then as we are at a time when the rates are incredibly low. So, to put it in real terms, in 24 years your salary, should you stay in the same job, should have gone up with inflation and therefore doubled, yet you will STILL be paying the same mortgage of €1,000. Therefore, every 8 years your mortgage outgoing will be decreasing by a third in real terms.

If you are going to own more than one investment property, it would probably be more tax efficient to put these into a Spanish company (S.L.) and have these managed for you. Arguably it would save you money in taxes and inheritances later (although these laws do change) by taking money out through dividends.

What other options do I have?
If you want to ‘flip’ your money, that means to invest in something short term, make a profit and take your money out then your options are limited. Stocks can be volatile over that period of time, back accounts offer tiny interest rates and in general you are looking at more high risk strategies. One of the reasons for this is, yes over a period of time property is a great performing asset, but property prices don’t just keep going up, or even stay the same. If you were to buy at the wrong moment, when the market freezes or crashes, you could find it very difficult to get out of that particular property without holding it for a long period of time or losing money. Cyclically they can crash, and when they do, this can cause major headaches/heartache for the owners. Not just from a loss in value either.

Potential Property investment issues
Imagine your 2 properties are rented out as investment. However, what if one of your tenants decides not to pay anymore, because they lost their job, or just because they decide they don’t want to (this happens more than you think). That income needs to be covered. In the UK you have procedures in place to remove these tenants fairly for both sides within 3 months. IN Barcelona, this is not the case. The laws are on the side of the tenant, and most lawyers will tell you the best way to get your non paying tenants out is to pay them off, unbelievably! And even then they could still refuse to leave and there is not much you can do until the end of their contract.

Let’s imagine that none of this happens, that you have a successful property investment over 15 years and you manage to double your investment of €200,000 into €400,000. Of course, you also have fees of 18% to consider (13% on buying, 5% on selling, although remember you are selling at €400,000, not €200,000 so its 5% of the higher figure. So actually you receive €400,000 minus approximately €46,000, that’s a gain of €154,000 over a 15 year period). Now you have to pay capital gains tax on that gain which starts at 19% up to 23%, which would be €34,300, so you would be left with €119,700. Which assuming the rent you received covered the mortgage and not much else is a decent sum.

However, let us imagine that instead of owning two properties, you only owned one. The other you invested in a portfolio that matched your risk/reward profile, that was liquid (you could have access to this after 5 years, with limited access before it) and very tax efficient.

Being cautious, let us say you achieved 4% gain per year on your investment which would value that at €360,018 (4% compounded interest over 15 years). There are no other charges or taxes to worry about except capital gains tax on that amount. If you have done this with a Spanish compliant product, you would qualify for ‘Spanish proportional Tax’ which means the gain would be offset by the original investment amount. Therefore, in the above scenario you would pay €35,584 capital gains tax on the property, leaving you a net profit of €124,434 . However, if you took this as an annual income of say €14,000, then just over half would be tax exempt, see below:

€14,000 drawdown per year from €360,018, tax payable of €1,187 per annum.

You can repeat this year after year, and on the basis that 4% interest is earned from the €360,018 at €14,000 annually, this effectively covers the €14,000 a year you take as income, meaning you could receive this every year paying the same tax, still keeping the same capital amount of €360,000.

So in real terms, over another 15 years you would pay little more than €17,805 in tax, from taking €210,000 income AND still have the capital of €360,000 which you can use/assign to someone else or pass on to heirs.

You would have liquidity (access to money if needed) and perhaps most important FLEXIBILITY. To help your children with university fee’s, provide yourself a tax efficient income or just take the money whenever you needed it (after 5 years).

Like property, investments are not guaranteed although over the last 30 years they have well outperformed property. In the UK for example, property has achieved around 402% return in that time, compared to UK equities (stocks) which have achieved 1433% (dividend shares re-invested).

To summarise, Barcelona Property can be a very good investment, but nothing is guaranteed in life except death and taxes (Benjamin Franklin). You should have a ‘basket of investments/assets including property/investments’ if possible, that are well thought out giving you the freedom, flexibility and liquidity to provide income for you.

Taxation of UK rental income in Italy

By Gareth Horsfall
This article is published on: 19th March 2017


Since the recent exchange of information between HMRC and the Italian tax authorities on UK rental property owners, I have been asked the question whether rental income (when taxed principally in the UK) will be taxed again in Italy as an Italian resident.

Rental income from properties is dealt with according to the law of the state where the property is situated. This means that you can deduct your expenses in the UK, in entirety and in line with UK law, and then the NET income is declared to HMRC in the UK.

When it comes to the Italian tax declaration the NET UK rental income needs to be declared, along with the tax paid in the UK.

This income is put together with any other income you may have for the year, to be declared in Italy,and a credit is given for the tax already paid in the UK, and the tax is calculated on the normal IRPEF rates (income tax rates in Italy).

In short the NET UK rental income position is what needs to be declared in Italy.

Given the recent clampdown on people who are not declaring their UK rental income in Italy, as Italian residents, this information should help to ease any thoughts of having to pay tax twice.

Of course, all this applies to properties held in other countries as well and not just the UK.

The bottom line is get your affairs ‘in regola’ because it is unlikely to cost you any more than it would in the UK, and you can sleep easy knowing you have done the right thing.

The ABCs of Spanish taxation when investing in real estate in Spain

By Jonathan Goodman
This article is published on: 8th March 2017


For a long time, Spain has been considered a country of interest for real estate investors. It is a Western European country with many types of attractive properties available: residential, retail, offices, logistics, industrial, and more. And all this in a place that enjoys a stable legal system, over forty million consumers, and a great climate.

The Spanish tax system, however, is one of the most complex in the world. This being the case, it is essential to know the taxation associated to each of your investments in order to avoid surprises. We have written this guide as a quick introduction for first time investors. Nevertheless, you must consider it just an introduction since every property has its own peculiarities. We would be happy to help you make your investments a success.

This article was written by AvaLaw and first appeared on