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Case Study

An estate in the countryside

Our clients had spent years driving around Andalucía looking for a plot on which they would build their dream house in the countryside, something contemporary and minimalistic in a rural setting. Unfortunately, no one had told them that building regulations don’t allow residential development on rural land. I had to break the news to them. These are not new laws, the big change was existing planning regulations were being strictly enforced following the corruption scandals uncovered in town halls all over Spain with illegal building licences being handed out like candy.  Once they took that on board they decided to use The Property Finders to help them locate and buy an existing house with some land in the countryside.


the brief

  • Main house around 350m2 with 3/4 bedroom suites with a couple of 2/3 bedroom guest cottages
  • At least 20,000m2 land suitable for crops such as olives, almonds, citrus, vines, etc.
  • A panoramic sea view, preferably with the African coast and Gibraltar in the background
  • Mains water and mains electricity
  • Large swimming pool.
  • Walking distance to the nearest village, up to 45 minutes acceptable
  • Happy to renovate.
  • acceptable
  • Happy to renovate

The challenges

All our searches for country properties start with the question: Is it legal? After the 2006 corruption scandal hit the Marbella Town Hall all town halls across Spain were ordered to review their planning regulations by central government. It turned out that rural town halls were the worst offenders, routinely granting building licences on green zone rural land. In fact, several mayors, town hall architects and other officials in the area of this search were already serving prisons sentences or were in custody awaiting trial.

As a result of what was uncovered many town halls lost their autonomy and planning submissions are now routinely scrutinised by the regional governments; in the case of Andalucía, that’s the Junta de Andalucía.  Always ask first at the relevant town hall before making a decision to buy. 

So, although we may spot what looks like the perfect match with our clients’ criteria we don’t view until we have done the due diligence on the legal side. this inevitably reduces the number of options to a mere handful at best.

The search area focused on the Casares and Gaucín areas

Although our clients had spent time focusing on the Lecrín Valley south of Granada they were open to other locations. At our initial meeting I suggested looking at Gaucín and Casares, places they had only driven past on the way down from Ronda.  After a quick trip to check them out they agreed. This area would suit them much better in terms of access to the coast, golf courses and airports. From this location they would have a choice of Málaga or Gibraltar.

Focusing on properties with a sea view, which at the start I had been told was non-negotiable, I inspected and reported on 6 properties in the area between Casares and Gaucín, all of which were shortlisted for viewing. They all matched all the criteria of the brief, although the walk to the nearest village was a bit of a slog in a couple of cases.  However, after that initial viewing trip the brief was modified and the sea view, that had started out as a ‘must have’, was down-graded to a ‘would be nice’ item but not essential. What leapt up the wish list was the walking, they wanted to be closer to Gaucín and with a shorter walk and were prepared to increase the budget to get it.

My reaction was that an increased budget wouldn’t make a lot of difference, there just aren’t that many large houses with a lot of land within an easy walk of a village anywhere.  Big estates tend to be further away from habitation. If I could find even one I would be pleased. I did find it and our clients did buy it, absolutely what they wanted, minus the sea view

Solar-heated infinity pool with south facing sun deck. Available to rent.

Just 700m on a track down from Gaucín this lovely finca had once been a pig farm.  Now, a house  with accommodation on three sides around a flower-filled courtyard, it is large enough with 7 bedrooms to sleep 14 in comfort.  Several living rooms and a staff apartment complete the accommodation in the main house while outside there is a casita that sleeps 2. Set away from the house is a wonderful, free-form solar-heated infinity swimming pool surrounded by sun decks, with views up to the village and across to the Crestellina mountain range.

As so often is the case you need a bit of luck, plus time to do the legwork.  Our clients definitely didn’t have the time to do the research, that’s what we do. And we were lucky; originally priced well out of their budget, the seller had reduced her asking price and was ready to negotiate further. This property was a real find; in the intervening 5 years since our clients bought it I have not seen another house of this size and quality so close to a village anywhere in Andalucía.

And the biggest stroke of luck was that, after much clearing of overgrown land that hadn’t been attended to in years, the most wonderful view of the sea, Gibraltar and the African coast opened up, so they got it after all. Had that been visible at the time of purchase I believe the asking price would have been considerably higher.

This lovely home is fully licensed as a Casa Rural and is available for rent for holidays and retreats.  You are welcome to contact the owners direct via their website

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