International and Private Lawyers Málaga, Spain
Civil and Family Law, Residency and Inmigration Law, Maritime Law                       


British government to give expats 'votes for life'

UK minister Chris Skidmore has announced that the government will remove the current 15-year time limit





The British government on Friday published detailed plans on how it will deliver its commitment to allow all expats to vote in parliamentary elections.

The Minister for the Constitution, Chris Skidmore, announced the policy statement which sets out how the government will remove the current 15-year time limit on British citizens who live abroad registering as overseas electors.

The changes would give all eligible British citizens who have lived in the UK a lifelong right to vote in parliamentary elections. It would mean all eligible overseas electors are able to register to vote quickly and easily, while maintaining the integrity of the electoral register and guarding against fraud.

Skidmore said: “This statement shows how we will introduce ‘votes for life’, scrapping the 15-year rule. British citizens who move abroad remain a part of our democracy and it is important they have the ability to participate. Following the British people’s decision to leave the EU, we now need to strengthen ties with countries around the world and show the UK is an outward-facing nation. Our expat community has an important role to play in helping Britain expand international trade, especially given two-thirds of expats live outside the EU.

“Expats retain strong links with the United Kingdom: they may have family here, and indeed they may plan to return here in the future. Modern technology and cheaper air travel has transformed the ability of expats to keep in touch with their home country.”

This proposed policy is the latest in a series of measures to make it easier for overseas voters to take part in British democracy. During the last Parliament, the government introduced online voter registration, making it quick, easy and secure to register anywhere in the world. The government also took steps to extend the electoral timetable for postal ballots to be issued earlier to ensure that as many electors as possible can participate in their democracy.



Malaga city is becoming more popular with people who want to buy a second home

Sur in English - Nov 2015

The culture and leisure facilities, services and good communications are attracting buyers who are comfortably off and looking for homes in the center or east of the city

The real estate sector is reporting the appearance of a new profile of property-hunter in the city of Malaga: a couple, aged over 55, Spanish or foreign, comfortably off, and looking for a top-floor apartment in the historic center or La Malagueta district as a holiday home.

Malaga is now high up on the list of popular places to buy a second home. Estate agents say this is because it has become a more important tourist destination in recent years, thanks to its museums, the traffic-free city center, the increased number of cruises which call at the port and the fame of its gastronomy. The city center and the east side are those which are most attractive to property seekers.

 As a result, the Costa del Sol can no longer claim exclusivity for residential tourism in the province. The city has begun to attract people who want a second home but, rather than sunshine and beaches, are looking for “an urban setting, with good communications, services and leisure facilities,” said José Antonio Pérez, director of the Real Estate Chair of the Institute of Business Practice (IPE). And if that can be found beside the sea and close to other attractive places like Marbella or Granada, even better. 

 “The common denominator in this demand goes beyond nationality, because there are as many Spanish as Norwegians, Belgians, Germans looking for somewhere in the city... they are at a medium-high level in terms of wealth and are all over the age of 55,” he explains. The fact that Malaga has become fashionable as an urban tourist destination has a lot to do with their decision.


 In the few months that estate agency Engel & Völkers has had a branch in the center of Malaga, its manager, Mario Garnica, has seen this trend for himself.

  “About 60 per cent of clients are foreigners, mainly from central Europe and Scandinavia, and they are looking for a second home,” said the franchise holder of this German firm, which specialises in top-end properties.

  With regard to the profile of the purchaser, Mario said, “There are different types, really: the person who already knows the Costa del Sol, who maybe has a place in Marbella, and is now looking for an apartment in Malaga; and also someone who comes from abroad and rents a house for a month while he looks for a property to buy.”

This demand has had a significant effect on the property market in the central and eastern districts of Malaga city, which have seen a major boost this year.

  In many cases, the process which ‘captures’ these purchasers is similar to residential tourism in Marbella: “First they come and stay in a hotel, then they rent a house and after that they buy one,” said Iñigo Molina, the director of the Richard Ellis consultancy in Andalucía.

 The problem is that there is very little property to suit these buyers. José Antonio Pérez said, “What they are looking for almost doesn’t exist; they want a small place, but one which has enough space. They don’t want a 50-metre apartment, but they don’t want one with four bedrooms either.” 

 It is a fact that the stock of new housing in Malaga city is virtually nonexistent, so those who want to buy have to look at the resale market. For José Antonio, the land which is going to be developed in the Tabacalera area would be ideal for property developments which are designed to meet the increasing demand for second homes in the city. 

 Some developers are taking note of this potential business opportunity. The director of Aguirre Newman in Malaga, María Monasterio, knows “several who are analysing the needs of this type of buyer, because they are thinking of building new properties in the center of Malaga.”

 And what are those needs? José Antonio Pérez pointed out that apart from some specific characteristics, older purchasers mainly want good facilities. 

 “The developers still haven’t cottoned on to this, but it is the future for our sector. For example, people who come to spend a few months in the city don’t want to worry about where they can buy a light bulb,” he explained. He also said that the excellent private health facilities in Malaga are an important attraction for people who are looking for a second home. 

 However, retired people are not the only ones to be attracted by the city. Plenty of professionals want to move to Malaga for work reasons. At least 50 per cent of the more than 300 apartments in Residencial Puerta del Mar, beside the AVE high speed railway station, are going to be occupied by people who currently live outside the city. 

 As Rafael Torres, the eastern Malaga delegate of Inmobiliaria del Sur, the developer of the building, explained: “Our purchasers include older people who want a second home in which to spend the winter, and people who come to Malaga because of their work, but in many cases people are coming because they want to, because they just like the idea of living here.”

In total, in the whole of Spain there were 300,349 property transactions last year, which is a drop of 17.4 per cent compared with 2012.

With this increase, Marbella has achieved its second consecutive year of growth. After 2011, when the number of transactions dropped slightly compared with the previous year, the town registered an increase of 11.5 per cent in 2012 and 23.6 per cent last year and the forecasts for the present year are optimistic.

Contrasting areas:

The increase in property sales in Marbella, although it is the biggest, has not been unique on the Costa del Sol, as other towns have also seen a rise in the number of property transactions.

There were increases in Estepona (9.34%), Mijas (4.1%) and Benalmádena (0.5%). Taken as a whole, the western coast of the province showed an increase of 0.85 per cent, in contrast to a 3.64 per cent decrease in Malaga city and the eastern coast, where there was a drop of 11.5 per cent.

Even so, according to these latest official statistics, the performance of the property sector in the province cannot be considered totally negative if it is compared with Spain as a whole, where only two provinces showed annual increases: Santa Cruz de Tenerife (2.4 %) and Las Palmas (0.6 %). All the others registered a drop in the number of property transactions and, among them, Malaga’s figures were among the best because its decrease of 3.6 per cent (a total of 18,639 transactions), was only greater than that of Alicante, which registered a drop of 1.5 per cent. The remainder of Spanish provinces showed greater falls.

These results place Malaga province as one of those which is showing the greatest resistance to the difficult situation which persists in the property sector.

This is also reflected in the global volume of property transactions, where the province, with a total of 393 million euros, occupies second place after Alicante, where the total of operations amounted to 422 million euros.

The Ministry has attributed the discouraging results for Spain overall to the fact that tax relief for a first home came to an end and there was an increase in the rate of IVA on new housing. Officials say that many transactions were brought forward so that they could take place during the final quarter of 2012, especially in December when 69,750 sales took place in that month alone.

According to the Ministry, if these transactions had not been rushed through, the results for 2013 would have been similar to those of 2012.

As a result of these tax changes, in the month of January 2013 only 14,479 properties were registered, which is the lowest figure in recorded history, although the Ministry believes that the effect was diminished as the year progressed.