How NOT to sell a house in Spain

Ten years have passed since I bought my house in Spain.

As houses go, it’s a big house. It has seven bedrooms, five bathrooms, a large Andalusian patio and an expansive roof terrace.

It’s big. And rather pretty.




I selected this house just days after arriving in the town, which meant I needed to quickly find a decent lawyer who would take me through the buying process.

But I was new in town.

Now, if you have spent extended time in Spain you will know that if you ask someone a question, and if that someone doesn’t have the answer, you can guarantee they know a man who does. You can also be pretty sure that man will be a cousin. Weird but true!

So I sought advice from the first guy I had met in town just a day or so earlier. He was the son of a hotel owner. And the hotel owner had a cousin. Who was a lawyer.

A damned good lawyer as it turned out! And that was just as well because…

I was going to buy the house from a Spanish artist who not really the owner.


Except she was the owner.


Well, she wasn’t the owner really because she had made a gentleman’s agreement with a Spanish pilot a year earlier to sell the house to him.

But then she was the owner really because the pilot had not honoured the agreement. He still owed her tens of thousands of euros.


The pilot didn’t tell me any of this of course. He simply smiled broadly when we met, waxing lyrical about ‘his’ lovely historical property that would soon be mine.

The full story was only revealed when all three of us – rather than just buyer and seller – found ourselves in a meeting with the lawyer who, as you might expect, had eyebrows raised at the farcical situation he was confronted with.

The artist, in whose name the house was still registered, might have ‘washed her hands’ of any involvement with the pilot. He had not fulfilled his part of the bargain and the house was not officially his.

But for reasons I have never fathomed, she stuck by him. Perhaps she was just under too much pressure.

So, how did the artist lose and how did the pilot win?

The price she originally agreed with the pilot was 25,000 euros lower than the price agreed with me. She lost that money. It went into the pilot’s pocket. Even though I officially bought the house from her.

Life in Spain can be weird at times! This would never have happened in the UK.

See you next time,


Jim Porter is a co-founder of Speekee, where kids learn to speak Spanish together

Jim began his Spanish learning journey in 1990. He has been a language teacher since 1994 and he lives in sunny southern Spain with his two bilingual children. Loves it! More…

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