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Home > Property > Cannot Keep Up Repayments on your Spanish Mortgage? Not All is Lost

Cannot Keep Up Repayments on your Spanish Mortgage? Not All is Lost

November 9th, 2008

Revisited 20-11-2008

Spanish Mortgage

Being unable to keep up the mortgage repayments is indeed a difficult situation for many and the topic is now becoming an all too often familiar situation. Keeping up the repayments is the best way to avoid problems but since this is not always possible below are some recommendations I would use when dealing with your Spanish bank:

  1. Be frank to the person in the bank you deal with and tell them about your problems, which are incidentally shared by thousands of persons. The branch manager (with whom almost invariably you will be now dealing with and from whom you should not expect much help), will either try to  a) make you feel guilty about the situation and say that the ball is in your court and that they cannot help you further and b) scare you out of all proportion by making you think that if they foreclose you will be chased around the world for this debt, now and in future, which is probably not true as they will keep the property and forget about you if there’s not a substantial nagative equity on the property. However, some banks use credit-search sites which they can link to other site within the EU, something which may have an adverse effect on your credit history back home.
  2. Always answer the telephone if they are chasing you, even if it is to reassure them that you cannot pay (going silent is a bad sign and who knows, perhaps they have good news to communicate as we found out once). Branch managers are accountable to regional managers in respect of difficult cases and so they will show more willingness to help if they can contact us for updates.
  3. Propose your lender an interest only payment for a minimum of 2 years. This will see your repayment greatly reduced.
  4. Propose your lender that interest rates are revised every quarter as opposed to every 12 months. Bear in mind that rates in the EU zone are going down and it is very likely that by mid next year the Euribor should be in the 2% mark, according to many analysts (if they can still be trusted!). As an example, a €200,000 mortgage repayable in 25 years and it´s rate to be calculated in December could be reduced by €120 per month and up to €300 per month by mid next year.
  5. Combine the above with a rental, even if it is below the market. On a property worth €200,000 you should be able to get a minimum of €6,000, around €500 per month.
  6. It is now (time of writing) a great time to think of switching your mortgage to a multicurrency loan with the Yen as the main currency, given that the interest rates are very low (1%) and the Yen at one of the highest exchange rates in the last years in respect to most western currencies (EUR, GBP). This means that if it goes down you will end up paying a smaller installment and will owe much less. Not all banks offer this type of loans but it is worth considering as a  €1,000 loan would go down to around €500. However, be advised that this can be risky; if the Yen goes further up, you might end up having to pay more for your mortgage. You could also consider USD, Swiss Francs or even GB pounds sterling, which will see your exchange rate risk eliminated (although the rate is still not favourable to the pound).
  7. Some banks will accept listening to a refinancing plan which is basically adding the unpaid balance to the principal of your loan and increasing your payments slightly to cover the extra amount.
  8. If the bank is not willing to help, then coldly ask them when is it a good time to come to see them as you want to hand them over the keys to the property, the deeds and the utility bills. Of course this will not discharge you from the obligation of paying the debt but you will see a change of attitude in them immediately and will listen to proposals more attentively.
  9. If realistically there is no possibility to continue paying and the lender is totally inflexible (which is bound to happen if you are behind by more than 3 payments) it is then crucial that an agreement is struck with the bank where they keep the property in payment of the debt. This is called ‘dacion en pago’ and it basically consists on formally handing over the deed to your home to your lender who agrees to release you from your mortgage. A lawyer may be required for this but it is certainly a good way to spend that last bit of money so that one’s name is not published on a debtors list in Spain (and in some cases like with the CAM bank, also published in other countries, including the UK).

Again, always remember that banks are not real estate agents nor wish to be and so foreclosing and repossessing is and should be the very last option for the bank.

About Antonio Flores

Antonio Flores is the head lawyer at Lawbird, a Spanish law firm specialised in property and litigation. More on .

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  1. Ann Marie Conroy
    April 14th, 2011 at 13:39 | #1

    Hola Antonio,
    Many thanks for your prompt reply and advice. will speak to the bank again. cannot see much hope as they dont even look at us anymore. just past our shoulders as if we are boring them.
    We are now heading for our 3rd month of only paying half our mortgage 650 euros out of 1225 euros can the bank start repossecssing procedures? We have being inundated with phonecalls from Cam, now these calls have stopped and we are getting quite worried.

    Many thanks for givng us your very valuable time
    will say a little prayer for you and all the good people who are trying to help us seniors. Muchos Saludos Ann Marie and Padrag

  2. aflores
    April 14th, 2011 at 13:46 | #2

    Hello Ann and Padrag, I suggest you go to the branch at some point to explain that, no matter how many times they call or they try to frighten you, you just do any more to please them (you can tell them that only till money printing machines are made legal, when everything will be sorted :)). They need to know that you are completely genuine and are not playing games, the market is what is and it is now out of your ability to sort things out, but within theirs!

  3. Jo
    April 15th, 2011 at 14:35 | #3

    Hi Anotonio,

    I used to live in Spain but moved back to the UK approximately 4 years ago. when we first left we were keeping up with the payments of our mortgage in spain, however soon after moving back we were unable to keep up with the mortgage. we have lost contact with the bank we have the mortgage with. but obviously still have a very large debt with them. myself and my partner whom i have the mortgage with have now split up. but i dont know where we stand with regards to the mortgage?
    do you know what will happen or what could happen with reagards to the debt? or do you have any advise for me?

  4. James
    April 19th, 2011 at 12:10 | #4

    My partner and I have split up and I am still residing
    in the property
    She has spoken to me about handing the keys back to the
    bank. The property is in her sole name but I am the
    guarantor. Is it possible for me legally to take over
    the mortgage as the guarantor as I have 3 children also
    living in the property or can she evict me and hand the
    keys back

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