If your dream of buying a house in Spain includes buying a boat to go with it – read on because there is plenty to know. YourMoveToSpain.com talks to John Brewster of Genus Marine & Leisure.
The Mediterranean is easy to fall in love with. Its shores are graced with stunning destinations to visit via the sea including the Balearic and Greek Islands. If you are a sailor or motor boat fanatic, it is a fantastic place to have a boat because there is not much of a tide so it makes for an easy passage for ‘boaties’.
John Brewster has been working in the marine industry in the Mediterranean and other destinations for years. He owns a website that buys and sells marina berths in Spain and indeed across many of the Mediterranean’s popular destinations including Gibraltar, France, Italy and Montenegro to name a few. So, he’s effectively like an estate agent of marinas.
In this article, we thought we would start with information on buying a marina berth, because similar to keeping your car at your house, you keep your boat at your marina berth and believe it or not, the process for buying a marina berth in Spain is almost the same as buying a house!
So John, where do we start with marina berths?
First of all, if you are buying a boat, it is important that you ensure the size of berth fits the boat. The majority of marinas do not allow a boat to be larger than the berth, so for example, a 13 x 4.29 metre boat won’t fit onto a 12 metre x 4 metre berth. You would have to buy a 15 metre x 4.5 metre berth to work for that size boat. Sizes of berths can vary but as long as the boat is within the berth size you are ok.
Secondly, while the majority of berths in Mediterranean ports are privately owned, the owner is not allowed to rent that berth out, so if you are looking for a rental berth you would need to contact the port directly to book a berth. As for buying a berth, the price is generally relative to the length of the concession available at that port.
What’s a concession John and how does it affect the price?
All ports in Spain are now granted a 30 year concession. You can buy a marina berth anywhere within that 30 years and as the years count down, technically the berth becomes cheaper to buy. When you buy the berth, you own it for however many years is left on the concession. So a berth with a short end concession could be acquired for a lot less than one with a longer concession. Take the example of Fuengirola Marina which has a concession that ends in 2033. Today, it still has 13 years to run so effectively you would own that berth for 13 years (but it’s worth mentioning, you would not own it permanently).
However cost of buying would be substantially less than if you were to rent a berth in the same marina and should represent a saving of over 40% when compared to renting. Also buying a marina berth will incur a community fee similar to buying an apartment but you can always sell a berth and make money on it if say for example, you sell your boat and don’t need the berth anymore. Other than that, you would need to allow a further 10% or so of the price of the berth for the legal charges and there is an 8% tax applied when buying a berth in Spain.
What happens at the end of a concession?
Briefly, 99% of all ports in the Mediterranean are handed out by tender to marina operators every 30 years by their respective governments. In the meantime, if you have purchased a berth, that gives you rights to use that berth up to the end of that concession period. If at the end of the concession period, there have been no tenders by operators for the concession, the local ports authority can extend the concession for additional years until they have secured an operator. Mallorca for example was in this situation and the concession was extended for a further five years, so all the berth owners had an extra five years added to their usage.
However if a new operator takes over, your right to use the berth ends but as a sitting tenant you have rights to negotiate a new 30 year deal with the new operator. So in reality, the marina won’t evict you, just extend you which means the last thing you need to worry about is the end concession date.
Can you rent out your berth if you are not using it?
In most areas around the Mediterranean, renting out your empty berth is allowed. The rental situation in the Andalusian ports is a bit different. The Andalusian Ports Authority has set a rule that you are not allowed to rent your berth out while it is empty. There are some private berths in marinas outside of the control of the Andalusian Ports Authority, who rent out their berths but as a there is a restriction in Andalusia.
Is it worth just renting a berth instead of buying?
Renting is also a good option especially if you have the freedom to move your boat around if you want to change of scenery or you shift house and want the boat to be nearer you. Renting will always be more expensive than buying over the course of a concession but it’s a good way to find out if you like one marina from the next. Water and electric is charged on top of the rental and the price of renting varies from marina to marina. Most marinas have online pricelists so it’s easy enough to search online for this information.
Where is the best location for a motor boat?
The price of fuel is always the big concern when you own a motor boat and buying fuel in Gibraltar is a third of the cost of fuel in Spain, which is why most motor boat owners tend to head for either Duquesa or Sotogrande as marina destinations. Further east up the coast tends to eat into any benefit you might have gained by going round to Gibraltar for fuel. Sailing boat owners have more flexibility because movement doesn’t solely rely on diesel – they have the wind too!
What is the process for buying a marina berth in Spain?
Buying a marina berth is a very similar process to buying a house in Spain. You need an NIE number, you need a lawyer, preferably one that has marina berth experience, and once the deal is done, it will need to be approved by a notary with all parties and lawyers present. Taxes of 8% of the price of the berth will need to be paid along with leaving around 10% for your legal fees.
Unlike a property purchase however, It’s not unusual for the same lawyer to work on behalf of both the buyer and vendor because ultimately it saves money for both parties. Also a tip to those out there buying, be aware, many people who own berths in Spain are either non-resident in Spain or may not be able to speak Spanish. In this case, it’s also not unusual that they will therefore require someone to have power of attorney. If either party or both parties need a power of attorney then they need to be aware to nominate a person immediately otherwise this could cause delay with the purchase.
Similar to in our buying guide for property, it’s also worth enlisting the services of a Foreign Exchange (FX) company to help you with the transfer of the payment for the berth if you are converting another currency into Euros. The cost of a berth can often mirror the cost of a house depending on the length of concession and your budget, so using an FX company can potentially save you thousands just on FX rates alone compared to running everything through a bank. However you will need a Spanish bank account also to pay for all costs associated with the berth.
We want to thank John Brewster for this valuable information and contribution to this article.