Archive July, 2011

The size (in square meters) is important!

28 July, 2011 No Comments

When I visit a property that is put up for sale (either a house or a flat), I always ask a question that rarely receives a specific answer: What is the exact area of the property ??….. And it is not an easy question to answer, as it depends in every case.
If there are more than one owner selling that property, they usually glance at each other to see who has the most approximate footage, since nobody is certain. As a consequence, doubts arise and owners start giving various opinions of the property’s size without agreement.

If there is only one owner, he often has an answer, but when he is asked specific questions: e.g. the exact useful space (in square meters), whether he refers to m2 as a total, or whether he includes terraces / porches, the garage (the parking spaces), or the common areas of an apartment building… uncertainty starts to spread out!

-value properties

In recent years, it was very important to know the exact number of m2 of the property being sold because there were scales, such as  X€ / m2, for different locations, which in addition to the property’s condition, gave a good estimate of the market price. However, times have changed and as I mentioned in previous posts (ref. appraisals) in a changing market, X€ / m2 paid in different areas are no longer crucial to determine the market price. Nowadays, an agreement is reached between what the owner requests and what the buyer is willing to pay. However, it is still important for the buyer to know the exact size in m2 of the property he/she is buying.

Valuations were of great support, because the property’s measures came out to be very accurate. The problem is that now owners avoid valuations because they are expensive, and the price the valuation determines today, may not be of reference 4 months in the future due to the continuous market changes.

At the time of the sale, it would be fair that the original architectural plans be presented to the potential buyers in the initial meeting with the owners, or an updated version if additions have been made, as well as the deed of the purchase. In reference to the assessed values, if they differ, there is still the possibility to update / correct them later on.

In some cases, when dealing with old properties no documents can be found, which makes it difficult to determine whether the size of the terraces or patios (e.g. and one in a flat in “l’ Eixample” could add many m2) is included. If a client was very interested in a certain property and found himself in this situation, I would suggest him to take a trip to the property with a surveyor / architect / decorator to take a measurement of the building site before signing the earnest deposit.

To fix this and to give a greater service to the buyer, when dealing with old or second hand homes that need a complete rehabilitation, QUALinHABITAT hires an architect responsible to raise the original plans, with an updated footage and who also presents a design model of how the rehabilitation should be done. This information is delivered to the customer and will dramatically speed up the process (where questions about problems of structure, risers, main walls, or m2 arise). These questions tend to be already settled in these planes. From that point on, the buyer only has to ask his technician for a final advice, which saves him time and money because all the data needed to make a decision is available.

Please take this as a suggestion as during the summer there is plenty of time to prepare and find the documents, which with the everyday rush, the task is usually postponed and to find the papers of a 20, 30, 40, 50+ year old property, the plans of reforms made to the property, or previous sales, if any, can take a loooong lo0oong time.

Certificates of occupancy must be updated

26 July, 2011 No Comments

The network that “rigged” certificates was found in Tarragona ( headline of a news article published on 08/08/10 in Spanish newspaper “La Vanguardia”).

As I explained in a previous post, a recent law in Catalonia determined that it is mandatory to have an updated certificate of occupancy in order to sell a property. Once the owner requests the certificate, the administration usually takes 3-4 weeks to delivery it. The financial institution / bank that grants the mortgage, will not even consider scheduling an appointment with the notary for the signature of the sale, until the bank has received a copy of the original updated (it is no longer valid to present the receipt justifying that the certificate was requested, to avoid the case that later on the certificate is not granted).

The article did not explain what meant “to rig” a certificate, it simply said that the irregularities came from Barcelona. In the absence of more data, I assume that the main reason could be that they gave certificates of occupancy to buildings that by law, were not authorized.

What I am not sure, is whether this network also provided the service of issuing “certificates of occupancy express”, which avoided the personal and economic conflicts that would cause a delay of 3-4 weeks of the date of sale. The problem, in most cases, is that customers are not aware of this issue and are caught by surprise at the end of the operation. If this network covered this “express” service, they had a profitable business, if they did not cover it, they missed an important part of their market!

I do believe, looking at the current market situation, that it would be a good idea even if an extra fee was charged that the administration offered a choice, based on demand, in which you could apply for an urgent certificate. I would implement it at least until homeowners are more aware of the importance to have an updated certificate (which can’t be more than 15 years old) for the sale of their properties.

Carratraca thermas – Villa Padierna (II) in Malaga

25 July, 2011 No Comments

Villa Padierna – Carratraca Thermas, located in Malaga, is a luxury hotel owned by Spanish businessman Ricardo Arranz, like Villa Padierna Hotel Marbella (where Michelle Obama stayed for a few days), but managed by the Capella Hotels & Resorts chain. Its activity is targeted to health tourism, mainly to the sulphurous waters emanating from this region for centuries that attract all kinds of people looking for its therapeutic and healing properties.

The hotel is located within the so-called Prince’s Palace, built by order of Fernanado VII, and opened in 1855. These waters were used in roman times and later on by the Arabs .

The hotel is directly connected to the spring of sulphurous water, whose antioxidant effect strengthens the human body’s immune system, providing a better internal and external aspect.

Its architecture, originally from a neoclassical style, was built from andstone and marble. The hotel has maintained the architecture and the tradition of the water and its healing power, by incorporating a revolutionary beauty center with cutting-edge treatments, along with a 5 star restaurant specialized in diet cuisine. In addition, as well as in Villa Padierna Marbella, the 43 rooms are deluxe and the hotel has  over 200 works of art.

The thermal baths, with pools of the nineteenth century, also include all kinds of bathtubs, showers, changing rooms, yoga centers….. as well as other complementary therapies for relaxation and care of the body and mind.

Taking this trip could be a good self-present for all of us whose birthday is around this time of the year (I take this opportunity to congratulate you!!!), since August is the perfect month to relax body and mind, and thus be able to come back in September full of energy!

Villa Padierna, Michelle Obama’s first choice!

22 July, 2011 No Comments

It is uncertain how or why, Mrs Obama chose Marbella, Spain for a private visit. To place Spain in the media’s spotlight,  to talk and show images of the country at times of great media attention worldwide and specifically in the U.S. market, was a huge support for us because it promoted Spain as a great tourist destination, of cultural and historical heritage.

The hotel they chose was Villa Padierna, a 5 ***** deluxe hotel managed by the Ritz-Carlton emporium (the group also manages the Hotel Arts in Barcelona), owned by Spanish businessman and promoter Ricardo Arranz.

The hotel opened its doors in 2003, and besides being among the most exclusive hotels, it has also been nominated as the best Golf & Resort in Spain for the year 2010. I suppose it could be referred to as a UNIQUE SOUTHERN HOTEL FILLED WITH ART, because besides the pleasure of doing the trip, we add the experience of being in a hotel decorated with a private collection of authentic works of Italian and Spanish art (XVIII-XIX century).


The resort’s design, based on a Tuscan mansion style, was made by the popular English architect Edward Gilbert, who has developed projects also in England, the US, and Spain. Gilbert’s construction techniques resemble to those used in ancient Rome, handmade architectural designs, and by choosing the marble for his works. It also has Spanish influence.

Golf Resort:

Los Flamingos Golf has three 18 hole golf courses: 1- The North course, which is a Par 71, although it’s characteristic by the old statues and marble columns placed around the course….. Make sure you stay on the fairway!!! 2- Alferini Golf which is a par 73 and 3- Tramores Golf, which is a par 65.

The hotel, as you can see in the pictures is of Tuscan and Renaissance style.

The resort counts with a Chapel, Roman Baths and an Amphitheatre, built with white marble and floors of travertine stone. It is considered unique in the world to have a Roman Amphitheater in a hotel, with a capacity of 400 people.

It is comprised of three buildings: Villa Padierna, Linares and the Amphitheatre, and counts with 129 rooms and 11 villas (which is where the first lady and her daughters resided).


There are more than 800 works of art from ancient Rome and Spain in the hotel’s interior and exterior, ranging from the eighteenth century to the present day. We are talking about classic sculptures, tapestries and antiques that belong to the owner’s private collection. The decoration of the rooms and villas combines luxury and elegance, and some of them have a private Jacuzzi. The villas inclued private pools and the services of a butler 24 hours a day.

Among the communal areas there are three restaurants and meeting rooms, one of them, Venus, which has the table where the Spanish Constitution of 1812 was signed (named LA PEPA, as they signed it on St. Joseph’s day).

After glancing over the pictures of the villas and suites, even though I perceive an international decorative context, it is also a classic luxury, yet expresses comfort. The hotel also gives a sense of privacy and relaxation with its wide open spaces and its views to nature, in the form of large gardens with cypress trees, golf courses and its views to the Mediterranean Sea.

Casa Decor Barcelona 2010

21 July, 2011 No Comments

ONCE’s former office building in Pedralbes (Barcelona), Carretera d’Esplugues  102, opened its doors to the CASA DECOR 2010 show.

This building was remodeled and turned into an exhibition of the most avant-garde trends in decoration. As in previous editions, professionals such as decorators, architects, landscapers, and gardeners were present to prepare rooms, bedrooms, kitchens, bathrooms, terraces … showing the latest in appliances, home automation, and technological innovations.

This range of professionals, who specialize in furniture, bathrooms, carpentry, cooking, fabrics, and many more, provided us during those days many ideas by offering opportunities for diversity in decorative trends.

The building opened its doors to the public on November 5, and the show remained open until  December 8th (the official presentation of the building was held on September 9 at 10.30 hours).

This building is located in front of St. Mary Queen’s parish, where you can also visit its gardens.

New Super Hotel in Singapore: top in luxury and design

20 July, 2011 No Comments

The new Marina Bay Sands Hotel is a huge hotel complex in Singapore that had its grand opening the summer of 2010.

The hotel consists of three towers of 50 floors each and 200 meters high attached by a huge ship-terrace referred to as Sky Terrace Park, 340 meters long, which contains:

* Restaurants, nightclubs, gardens, public observatory overlooking Singapore’s skyline and financial district.

* A pool of 150 meters with no borders, which became the longest in the world. It must be a unique experience to splash and crawl into a poll standing 200 meters high, overlooking the skyscrapers, and to swim a few endless laps…

This complex, in addition to the hotel that has a capacity for 2.560 people, will also feature a 120,000 square meters convention center (The Sands Expo & Convention), a mall (The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands), a museum of Arts and Sciences (built next to the three towers with the shape of a lotus flower with a retractable roof that has a waterfall during the day and laser shows at night), two theaters, six restaurants of celebrity chefs, two floating pavilions, and a casino (although the latter was not finished until December 2010).

This work was designed by Moshe Safdie Architects, from Canada, which also includes artist’s facilities that create effects with water, wind, and light, integrating art and architecture. The complex will also include an interior river where boats can sail on it. The engineers, the group Arup Brinkenhoff Parsons (MEP), have taken into account the expansion joints of the main pool designed to be compatible with the natural movement of the towers and allow a small displacement. Besides the possible effect of wind, and to cope with a possible ground movement, hydraulic jacks have been installed under the pool system so the overflow is always balanced and does not suffer mismatches.

Note that this superior platform has a length of 64 meters, which makes it the world’s largest public cantilevered platform.

The project was funded by a Las Vegas tycoon that required an investment of $ 5.7 Billion. For further information please log into:

Amaaaaazing summer house!!!!

14 July, 2011 No Comments

Log in during the month of August … it is the ideal month to see what is being offered on a daily basis and leaving what’s complicated on standby … Check out this house, I find it  beautiful and particularly refreshing.

…… I hope the best summer for all of you!

Why is it important to have your property’s certificate of occupancy?

13 July, 2011 2 Comments

There are still many clients who put their home for sale in the second hand market and do not know that in order to sell the property with the presence of a notary, they are required to have the certificate of occupancy updated. In the case of not having the certificate, the client will not be able to sell or rent the property, bearing in mind that it also needs to be updated (less than 15 years). This certificate is also necessary to contract the services of water, gas and electricity.

This document certifies that the home is habitable, and that the building has a solid and reliable infrastructure, which are established by the Decree of the Catalan Government. The bank may also request it as a condition to approve a mortgage. To obtain the certificate of occupancy, an architect inspects the property and issues the certificate of occupancy, which is then delivered to Habitatge de la Generalitat, and after the payment is received, the owner will get it in 20 days. If the owner is uncertain whether the certificate is expired or lost, the secretary of Housing will be able to determine if he needs to make a duplicate or make a new one.

Not all properties can obtain the certificate of occupancy, as it is necessary that the property is deeded as a house, as well as comply with all of the habitability criteria required in the decree. This means that an office rebuilt into a house, even if it meets these requirements, if it has not obtained a change of use, cannot get the certification. This is a municipal license and therefore in the event of a ground floor office converted into a dwelling, if the municipality has forbidden homes in the ground floor, those spaces will not qualify for the ballot.

An example of invalidity of a contract for the sale of a property due to the absence of the certificate of occupancy, will help us to better understand the value given to this document at the time of the transaction: If a client is interested in the purchase of an apartment, and the owner is pending the approval of the certificate of occupancy and the buyer signs the letter of intent, leaving some money on account. In this particular case it is an old office space recently renovated to suit as a house, but given its features, the architect who reshapes it has not been able to make the change of use, as the property does not comply with the minimum size municipal ordinances require. The buyer can obtain the annulment of the letter of intent and the money left on account, because legally it is considered that there has been error on the object, since the property is not a house or flat, as requested by the buyer, but in terms of a license is still an office space. Even though it has been remodeled adapting it for housing needs, the property does not meet the regulatory and legal requirements to qualify as such. (Legally, it would be referred as a crippling mistake of consent, which would determine the nullity of the contract signed).

In order to avoid problems it is always better, and specially before depositing any sum of money on account, to ask if the property has an updated certificate of occupancy.
The attached document is the model of certificate of occupancy in force today in Catalonia.