8 Tips for Buy-To-Let Success

03 November 2019


  1. Location, location, location. Any article on real estate worth its salt usually starts with this timeless saying. A worn out trope no doubt, but that doesn’t make it any less true and it is hands down the first tip that is often forgotten or neglected by most. Property prices can increase or decrease, but nothing impacts more on them than location. A great location helps you to cap off the storm greatly cutting down on your losses in a cycle downturn. Conversely, in a property boom, well-located real estate greatly capitalizes from it, soaring at a much higher rate than the average. When you invest in BTL, you need to choose a location which has a great touristic affluence. You simply can’t go wrong with international household names such as Madrid, Marbella, Mallorca, and Barcelona.
  2. Inland vs coastal. Both are on high demand but for very different reasons. The discerning city crowd, with refined tastes, are after the glitz and bling of a cosmopolitan lifestyle and are drawn to museums, restaurants, cultural events and all the flashy spoils a big city has to offer. On the other hand, the beach crowd is after raw fun, sun & beach, mojitos and disconnecting for a while. You must decide which group you want to appeal to and hone your marketing towards it. Both are proving to be great business options. Inland property (large cities aside) tend to fall more on the rural wayside. Whereas coastal resorts (and large cities) are clearly aligned with urban properties. To sum it up, in general, flat out you should choose urban over rural for buy-to-lets in my humble opinion. That said, if you have a strong predisposition towards nature and wildlife preservation and want to offer this healthy experience to your guests, then by all means go rural (inland). Spain has thousands of unspoilt scenery waiting for you, and your guests, to discover and get lost in their beauty.
  3. Affordability vs maintenance. Budgeting carefully is a key element of any successful conveyance procedure. Yes, you may afford to buy a swanky property in a great location, but can you afford its steep maintenance? Only buy a property you are absolutely confident you can afford to maintain over the mid to long run. Buy-to-let properties intrinsically should not be very expensive. I advise the property you acquire should be centric, small, with good communications, within walking distance of all amenities and the sea (on coastal resorts). If you do your research properly, you can even use at times the rental income generated to repay the mortgage and any additional expenses.
  4. Tourist Licence. Several regions in Spain have devolved competencies on this matter, passing their own regional laws (holiday rental licences in Spain, region-by-region). Some of these laws are very stringent i.e. Balearic Islands. Spain’s Supreme Court has recently ratified and defined the scope of regional competencies on holiday rentals. You would do well to acquaint yourself with the regional regulation where you plan to buy a property in. You must comply with all the requirements set out in the regional law and attain a Tourist Licence, where necessary. You really do not want to invest several hundred thousand euros in a property only to find out you are banned by your local town hall from offering it as holiday accommodation!
  5. Licence of First Occupation. A staple requirement to apply for a Tourist Licence throughout every region in Spain is to have attained what is known as a Licence of First Occupation. This is an unconditional requirement which marks the difference between being able to let your property legally, or not. Humongous fines are levied on landlords who fail to prove their property has attained a LFO from their town hall.
  6. Community of owner’s bylaws. If you buy into a gated community or building, chances are high you will become part of what is known as a community of owners. New laws passed on March 2019 have empowered communities of owners across Spain to outright ban, or restrict, holiday rentals. You really do not want to invest several hundred thousand euros in a property only to find out later on you are banned by your community to offer it as holiday accommodation!
  7. Rental management companies. This is a make or break. Some shoddy companies and individuals, that fly under the tax radar, refuse to hand over VAT invoices for any of their services (for which they charge thousands!). This translates into their clients unbeknownly picking up huge tax bills. Other more professionally-run rental management companies have no qualms to supply clients with proper VAT invoices, so that the landlord’s lawyers may deduct them, dramatically reducing a landlord’s tax bill (on average by 70%, or more). Make no mistake, landlords end up picking the tax bill of those suppliers who refuse point blank to declare and pay VAT. Bottom line, go legal and demand VAT invoices from suppliers; you will be able to offset huge amounts of expenses from your landlord tax bill. Don’t subsidize tax dodgers out of your own pocket!
  8. Taxation – Lawyers. A competent company, like Larrain Nesbitt Lawyers with over 16 years’ experience, will be able to legally knock off 70%, or more, from your landlord tax bill. Our company does this routinely for all our tax clients. Did you know there is a huge list of property-related expenses, taxes, fees etc which are all tax-deductible and can vastly mitigate your landlord tax bill? Not to mention that lawyer’s fees can also be offset from any tax you need to pay on renting out… Ask us for our holiday rental accounting service (HRAS).


In Spain, the average annual rental yield equates to 5% of a property’s value. Given how rental yields have soared year-on-year by two digits across the board over the past 3 years, this is quite substantial. The afore does not even factor in capital appreciation, which has increased in general by one digit and by two digits in large cities. When you combine both the power of soaring rental yields and capital appreciation, you conclude that real estate is a safe investment that is yielding a two-digit return per annum YOY, with little to no risk. BTL is ideal as a safe retirement plan, as opposed to investing your hard-earned pension with legions of mainstream overrated ‘professional’ hedge fund managers, who rake in millions a year, and return between 36p and 83p for every £1 invested by their customers.

At a time of historic ultra-low interest rates (which, incidentally, is a wondrous opportunity to request a buy-to-let mortgage) this is simply smashing; it doesn’t take a MBA to profit from it, only a level-headed investor that puts some work and time into lettings.

Buy-To-Let is akin to running your own business. If you want to succeed, you must learn to delegate. When you examine some of the world’s most successful CEO’s, it dawns on you that the key to success is finding the right people for the right roles and delegating on them. You cannot hope to do everything yourself or you will be driven insane.

Instruct a seasoned lawyer (conveyancing & taxation), find a reputable estate agent, hire a competent estate rental management agency, and market your property using a renowned property portal. All of these working in tandem with you will drive your rental business to success. And profit from it all as millions of landlords already do!

Contact me at Alanda Properties for hugely discounted long term lets in Marbella and the Costa del Sol. You will be surprised to learn the bargains this new market has to offer on prime locations.

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