Independent legal advice
This legal advice, albeit ocassionally overwhelming (i.e. Sur in English special property section), serves as a reminder to the investor of the need of engaging a solicitor prior to embarking on the purchase of property, and is not superfluous. However, on reading the magazines edited by real estate companies, we see that they normally publicise lawyers (our colleages) which then appear to be the ones who are recommended to buyers and can more often than not be seen flying abroad with the sales team on property exhibition trips, to help sales people close as many deals as possible by providing legal assurances.
These ´company´ or ´corporate´ lawyers, which ocassionally are also seen onboard some real estate companies´ sail boats as part of the trained crew, come short of what should be regarded as independent legal advice when dealing with those clients who have been recommended by the real estate company with whom they sail, race and fly.
I would like to stress that this article is no crusade against some of my respected colleages of the legal profession. But it is important to call apples to apples and pears to pears, in order to avoid confusion and misunderstandings.
In my opinion, legal advice given by lawyers regularly recommended cannot be considered as truly independent, for the following reasons:
True independence is not achived in these cases, although this by no means signifies that all deals are doomed when the agents recommends his lawyer friend. Most of them will almost certainly act honourably with their clients, and most of the introductions will create solid client-lawyer relationships to endure the test of time. But from the agent´s point of view it would be honest to advise the client-purchaser that the designation of a regurlarly recommended legal representative is intended to serve the agent´s purpose more than the purchaser´s.
I would like to finish this article mentioning a particularly inmoral and almost illegal form of recommended legal representation. It refers to big UK companies operating in the Alicante area who organise inspection flights for prospective purchasers to view pre-designated new developments. Within the package inclusive of accomodation, flights, scheduled viewings and other services, these big companies have a special discounted offer on a legal representation service. Within the legal package one cannot detect a trace of ´independent´ advice.
Not only does this lawyer accept that large percentages of the purchase price are paid to the UK company, sometimes through UK accounts, rather than to the Spain-based developer but is also unconcerned on whether the developer guarantees the downpayments. If the client insists on having all payments guaranteed, as the law provides, they will try to charge the buyer for arranging the guarantees which by law are totally free from cost for the buyer and on account of the developer. The supplement charge will be of 1% of the guaranteed amount, totally outrageous.
Paying for such a legal representative is daft, and the consequences of using him definetely counterproductive.
All of the above is based on experiences of first time property purchasers in different areas in Spain.
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