Plots for sale in Spain - A guide

Many of our clients are looking for a plot for sale in Spain, often to build their dream home. The reason can be many, to build something unique, to save money, or to profit on a sale. Regardless of the purpose, it is important to do research beforehand to avoid any pitfalls. There are many different important aspects to take into account, such as local city plan (PGOU), building percentage, limitations, property tax and community fees. The plots for sale in Spain are not always easy to find, as they are for sale by request only. To find the best plots for sale it is necessary to have great local knowledge, and a good real estate agent on your side. In this guide we will go through the most important elements of buying a plot in Spain.

General city plan for construction

The general plan (PGOU) is made by the city townhall and defines what type and size of property that can be built. It defines everything from large commercial areas to individual villas. Each area of the city is divided into sub areas, with different allocations. There are two general parameters to be aware of; the type of property you can build, and the size of the property you can build. The type which is most relevant for our anyone looking to build a house, its the category UE - Unifamilar Vivienda. This category is a single home, designed for one family.

The UE nomination is normally followed by a letter, for example UE4, defining which category in the PGOU the plot falls under. The category will stipulate building percentage, plot usage, maximum height and other technical limits. It is important to note the stipulations for each category can vary in each city.

Building percentage for new villas

After finding the perfect plot for your building project, you need to know what size villa you can build. First step is to figure out which classification the area have. To do this, you need to study the PGOU for the relevant city - each city have its own PGOU. Often the classification for the plot will be mentioned in the sales advert, but as many times it is not. In that case, you need to contact an architect or the townhall to get clarification. If you are working with Avante Real Estate, we will always provide you with this information. With the PGOU you will also be able to see what can be build around your dream plot.

With the classification in hand, it is necessary to consult the Normativa Urbanistica to find all building stipulations. Here you will be able to see all limitations for construction. Most importantly you will find the building percentage - how many m² property can you build, relative to the plot size. Normally this number is between 20-40%, meaning you can build 200-400m² on a 1.000 m² plot. If you can build the entire building in 1 level, or need to build in 2 levels, depend on the footprint percentage. 

The  footprint percentage, determines how much of the plot can be occupied by a building. This percentage normally ranges from 20-40%. If the footprint percentage is 20%, you can build on 200 m² of a 1.000 m² plot. If the building percentage is 40%, you can build a house in two levels, each 200 m². There are several more complex stipulations, such as enclosed terraces counting only 50% pr m². Basements are not counted as liveable area if there is no full size windows.

Building license for new villas

When you have found the right plot for sale and bought it, its time to design you new villa. With the complete architectural drawings in hand, you can apply for a building license. It is not possible to apply for a license, without the project from an architect. The townhall will evaluate your building project to ensure it meets all rules in the PGOU and Normativa Urbanistica. This process can take many months, and especially in Marbella there is a very long waiting time. When the license is given, construction can begin - it is not legal to begin any construction before the permit is in place. To get the building license to build a villa, you also need to pay a fee. The fee is related to the type and size of your project.

Plots for sale in Marbella

Marbella is one of the most popular cities to buy a plot in. Most of our clients buy a plot to build a villa, however there are also plots suitable for small apartment complexes or townhouses. The price for a plot in Marbella relies heavily on the exact location, the views and the surrounding property. Any road noise have a substantial negative effect on the price for a plot in Marbella. The city of Marbella have had severe problems with the PGOU, and currently operate with PGOU86 which was approved in 1986.

In the year 2000 another plan was approved on illegal terms. This was attempted to be rectified in 2010 with a new PGOU, however the Spanish national court declared it illegal. Currently Marbella is making good progress with a new PGOU, which hopefully will be approved in 2019. At the same time, the town hall is trying eliminate the issues created by the cancelled plans. As a result of all this work, the average time to get a building license is between 8-24 months.

Plots for sale in Estepona

Estepona is a large city, with many subareas where it is possible to find a great plot for sale. The most demanded plots for sale are either beachfront plots, or plots with an elevated position. The mountains behind Estepona offers incredible views over the coast and all the way to Africa. The price for plots for sale in Estepona is lower than in Marbella, except for beachfront plots. The most popular areas with plots for sale are Casasola, Atalaya and Selwo. The time to get a license is normally between 1-4 months, and Estepona have not had problems with the PGOU.

Plots for sale in Benahavis

Benahavis is one of the most popular cities when it comes to plots for sale on Costa del Sol. Famous and popular areas like La Zagaleta, El Madroñal, La Quinta and El Herrojo are all within Benahavis. The plots for sale often vary greatly in price depending on neighbourhood and views. Benahavis is an attractive area to look for a plot for sale, partly due to a low property tax. The town hall is one of the most wealthy in Spain. To obtain a building license in Benahavis is a well functioning process, and takes between 1-4 months.