Villa, Finca, Townhouse... Spanish property nouns explained. Spain News | Villa, Finca, Townhouse... Spanish property nouns explained.

Thu 18 January 2024

Spain News | Villa, Finca, Townhouse... Spanish property nouns explained.

Spanish property nouns explained.

As a foreigner, looking to relocate to Spain, the first thing you need to understand are the nouns used to describe property types. It can be confusing! For example, a bungalow is a single storey house, right? Wrong! In Spain a bungalow is a home, on a complex, with up to 4 storeys, a terrace or garden and a shared pool.

When you are looking through real estate web sites, you may be confused by the descriptions, especially as there are a lot of different nationalities within the industry, here in the Costa Blanca. Often nouns get lost in translation. We have compiled a list designed to clarify it for you.

1)  Villa - Historically a villa was a large, detached, country house for the upper classes. The upper echelons of the Roman civilisation had villas of varying size and luxury, depending on wealth and status. Modern day villas are found in more coastal areas, although, with growing numbers of foreign ex pats relocating to Spain, there are also country villas. They are modern in design and were originally built as second homes for Spanish families who lived in the cities like Madrid, Barcelona and Valencia. These holiday villas were situated close to the beaches and served as a haven to get away from the blistering heat of the city.

2) Chalet - Although at Jacaranda Spain, we do not use it, Spanish real estate agencies use the word Chalet (the t on the end is NOT silent) where we use the term Villa. This is not a wooden, alpine lodge or holiday camp accommodation, but a substantial family home with outside space.

3) Finca - This originally referred to a plot of rural, rustic agricultural land, it did not always have a house on it. These days, most fincas typically have a cottage or farmhouse, on a large plot of at least 2000m2. Again, over time, fincas were used, by the Spanish, as country, holiday retreats. Fincas are always located in the countryside on rustic land. That is to say, land that is not developed with infrastructure. This land requires special licences to build on, from the ayuntament (townhall). Again, the term finca has evolved to include plots with infrastructure but planning permission is still required for building work.

4) Casa de Pueblo - Townhouse - This is a terraced house, within a village/town location, with between two and four storeys.

5) Casa de Campo or Masia - This is a Spanish country house, typically a farmhouse for the farmer and family tending the surrounding land. They are built using traditional materials like brick, stone and wood, with thick walls and sloping roofs. This term is used interchangeably with finca nowadays.

6) Parcela or Terreno - These are vacant plots of land. At Jacaranda Spain, we always recommend those looking for a plot to build their own home, absolutely MUST perform rigorous research on the paperwork. Many ex pats have been caught out, buying a plot of land and then discovering that you are NOT permitted to build on it. If there is an existing ruin, a licence will be granted but usually only to repeat the footprint of the ruin. Often rural land, with no infrastructure, is protected.

7) Local - This is pronounced with the emphasis on the a. A premises for a business.

8) Apartamento, Piso - An apartment is a residence within a building of between 2 and 4 floors. They have communal areas and parking. A piso is a flat, located in a high rise building.

9) Casa de Madera Prefabricada,  Mobile lodge - A relative newcomer to the list and to our portfolio at Jacaranda Spain. This is becoming a realistic option for those with a smaller budget. They can have up to four bedrooms and all the mod cons. Perfect for those looking to live a cheaper way of life, with no mortgage. However, a word of caution! Check with the relative authorities, that you are permitted to locate the lodge on your chosen plot. They are classed as mobile, BUT, if you are going to live in it, you will want to be connected to mains water, electric and sewage, this classes the dwelling as a "permanent residence". Also, if it is classed as mobile, and you want to resell the property, there will only be deeds for the land and not the residence.

10) Cortijos, Haciendas, Estancias - These are terms used for traditional agricultural land and dwellings. A cortijo is a large working farm with at least 10 hectares of land. The house is U shaped with two wings around a patio area.

A hacienda is a large, elaborate estate and land holding with a productive business empire. More often found in the Spanish colonies, they were often plantations for sugar cane production or cotton fields. An estancia is a smaller landed estate.

For further information and an informal chat, contact a member of the team at Jacaranda Spain.

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