Why We Don't Deal With Rustic Property

As cities become ever more expensive and communications improve we get more and more people asking us for country properties with lots of land to... have horses, run a smallholding, have a small hotel, raise sheep or goats and plenty of other ideas which all seem perfectly reasonable on first look until they hit something called "Spanish reality". Today's post is all about why we can't or won't be helping you to achieve those dreams unfortunately.

80% of our sales are apartments, flats and houses in the city. 20% are villas, townhouses and property outside the city but usually in a town or on an estate. 0% are farms, masias, rustic properties or land with the potential to develop... something.

Are we missing a trick here? We could have a specialist rustic property person finding those gems for our clients wanting to achieve their dreams. Or could we? Let's dig into the realities of rustic properties and then you may understand our reticence to engage.

What Are The Problems?

Firstly you need to understand the concept of rustic property in Spain. Rustic property is called rustic not because it is built out of wood and straw and be vulnerable to a particularly sneezy wolf attack but because it has been built on rustic land, and rustic land has all sorts of restrictions (of which more later). Rustic land is originally agricultural land where farms were developed and protections were put in place over the years to protect farmland from development. But let's get into the issues, problems and most importantly...

Legality or Otherwise

If you have been an eagle eyed visitor to our blog over the years you'd know about the minimum requirements for building on rustic land. You need 10,000m2 of land to build legally, always assuming that the land has no special protections such as those incurred by being in a National Park for example, and on that 10,000m2 of land you can build a maximum of 2% footprint, ie 200m2 footprint. You may be able to build a couple of floors giving you a huge 400m2 house. If those basic requirements are not satisfied then the property was originally built illegally. However...

This doesn't necessarily mean that it is illegal now. It may have been legalised over the years by the owners and you can now buy it as it stands. But...

You are not allowed to change it in any way, no extensions, no pool, and even no major redevelopment of the property. You are generally allowed to maintain but not really to improve. And when you are not allowed to improve then things tend to go downhill.

The Catastro/Registry Conundrum

The property may appear fully on the Catastro but there may be no sign of a property in the registry. It may have been there for a hundred years and this can still be the case believe it or not. If the owners have never got round to fully declaring the property because it's in the back of beyond (El quinto pino in Spanish) then it may not appear in the registry.

This discrepancy between the Catastro and the Registry is always a problem for your lawyer (you WILL be using a lawyer if you are buying a rustic property won't you? I mean you should if you are buying just a city apartment despite what various experts might say on Facebook Expat groups because no, the notary will not do it for you, they are too busy and will not give up a morning to find out all about your place in the sticks as a favour)

Build Quality

Let's just say that the quality of building in the Campo can leave a lot to be desired. Things may look charming and beautiful with natural stone finishes and wooden beams but the builder of this "house" has probably never heard of insulation or dampproofing. When it's hot you'll boil, when it's cold you'll freeze, when it's damp you'll wheeze. And it does get cold and damp in Spain even though you may be making your visit in the warmth of April as opposed to the heat of summer or in the cold damp recesses of midwinter (It won't be cold outside but it will be in these draughty houses).


Valencia is a big city for Spain and that means that land prices are quite high in the suburbs around. (For an explanation of Valencia's suburbia see this post) Therefore you have to go quite a way inland before you get to places with large plots and houses available at affordable prices that are legal, legalised or able to be legalised.

And what's the issue then? Well that land might well be pretty barren in terms of what you want to do. You don't have lush grassland here for your sheep to graze which is why you don't really see many sheep around. There are no pastures for cows but you will often see a goatherd with a dog driving his herd of demon goats along the droving roads from one grazing area to another. The reason there are no herds of sheep or cattle is because the quality of the soil on the land is low. And this may also affect your desire for a smallholding. (Equally if you grow things here but when there's a bit of rain then everything still grows like a triffid).


Will you get the licences to make the changes you want to make to the property? And are the people you need to make those changes going to be available in the quinto pino? Will the town hall have a labyrinthine bureaucracy meaning that Amparo, who runs the urbanisation department in the town hall as her personal fiefdom, only has a computer that says no unless you know the Mayor and exactly which type of Jamón and bottles of wine he prefers. Yes, licences might not be available however much better you might want to make the local area and the property in your ideal world.

Amparo don't care about that sh*t!"


Is that a word? It is now.

Are you actually allowed to do what you want to do in the place you want to do it? Now this we have encountered before. For years someone was running a B+B successfully but because of health and family issues they needed to sell the place and move away. They insisted they were selling a business but they weren't because that business had never had a licence to operate even though they were registered as self employed as a hotelier. They just didn't have a hotel... even though they did. They insisted that it was easy to get the licence but the lack of one meant we doubted their word so we went to talk to the town hall.

The area was rustic so you "COULDN'T RUN A BUSINESS THERE".

Any business apparently

I know, it's madness. Unless it was a farm... with specific things grown... So no licence had ever been granted for the B+B and no licence would ever be granted for the B+B, the town hall were very clear three times. But let's take that to its logical conclusion. If you can't run a business on a rustic property except for what the land is zoned for, then how can you open your Yurt Resort, your Health Spa, your Riding School or your Llama Petting Zoo? You can't. You have to do that on urban land, tertiary land or industrial land and meditating in a Yurt next to a builders' yard might not work for everyone right? Oh and you can't have livestock on urban land so no "Good Life" vibes allowed there.

The Basics

Water, electricity and gas but mostly water. Usually to have a supply of water on rustic land you need to have two shares in the local well to be able to use their supply. In order to build a house you need two shares and getting them if your house hasn't got them can be extraordinarily difficult even when you have your 10,000m2.

Even worse is when you have to connect up a supply from the mains because there isn't a local well. It's at that point that we get to the next issue below... the Cedula or the second occupation licence.

Electricity isn't such as big deal these days as long as the house you want to buy isn't in a valley in the shadow of a mountain meaning no direct sunlight for your solar array. Gas is bottled usually and can be collected or delivered from the nearest town so again not too many worries.

The Cedula

If there is anything wrong with the property legally then don't expect the local council to give a cedula, aka a second occupation licence, and without this second occupation licence then don't expect to be able to get any amenities connected.

The water company will require it to connect up as will the electric company and probably the gas. And even if the house seems solid and with amenities already connected up make sure there is a second occupation licence in order to do a changeover of ownership of the contracts. Water companies are particular sticklers on this point.

If the amenities are not connected up then without that second occupation licence you are never getting them.

Also make sure they never get cut off by not paying the bill because you won't get them reconnected any time soon without this licence or a very good contact in the town hall and remember Amparo is there to stop that happening.

The Wishes of the Majority

We aim to please. We can try but we will never be an agency that offers everything to everyone. We specialise in Valencia and we specialise in and around the city. However we specialise in certain areas and rarely venture out of them as we know what the majority of people want and ask us for.

Ask us to find you a castle to buy and we'll take on the challenge even if it's outside our normal areas where we work, we like challenges.

Ask us to find you a pig farm with stables for horses and the option of making it into a volcanic yoga retreat far away from civilization and we'll pass thanks. Challenges are good but we have our limits.

There Are Other Reasons

I asked my team what they would add to this post. Some of the comments included "It's as boring as F*ck living in the middle of nowhere" (Thanks City Boy DT), "People fall in love with a dream not the practicalities", "What would the kids do without broadband?" (Although Elon's Starlink has this sorted now for a price), "Plots are never fenced off correctly so you never know what's yours" and more... So yeah, issues.

Can You Understand This?

Can you see why we don't do it? Life's too short to create problems not only for ourselves but also for those people looking to go into this type of living.

Our clients in general come to Valencia for Valencia the city or to be near to everything Valencia has to offer. Going more than half an hour away from the city is rare for our typical client so within that half hour perimeter in general is the area we concentrate on. If we dilute our main offer too much then we start tro spread ourselves too thin and that's without mentioning the hundreds of kilometres we would have to cover every day taking you from one far flung place to another for similar properties with potential legal problems and logistical issues meaning that you could never really buy them anyway.

It's just not us so there you have it, why we don't deal with rustic properties. Other properties are available with fewer headaches and other agents specialising in the stuff of nightmares that is buying rustic property are also available. Feel free to contact them for that, we'll continue to specialise in dreams that are easier to fulfil.

*And to the person who told us last week that they didn't need an agent to help with purchasing this type of property nor a lawyer as the notary would sort everything, they just wanted someone to make appointments with the selling agents for them as they weren't getting any responses, good luck with that. You'll need it. Even if the selling agent responds don't expect them to be offering up and of the sage advice about potential problems. And thanks for inspiring this post. I hope it helps.

The Latest Valencia Property Podcast

In the latest podcast we look into why Valencia has the biggest garden in Spain, Jess talks about working with Valencia Property, Cath about the types of clients we are getting at Stepping Stone Rentals and we take a look back at some of our most recent blog posts. Forgive my voice as I have a bit more than just a cold, it's a little deeper than normal.

If You Liked This...

Then read more of our previous posts with a bit of controversy below. Just click on the images.

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