FAQ´s (Frequently Asked Questions)

1. Where is your office and how is the communication?

Our real estate agency Alvarez & Pannekeet is located in Maella (Calle Santa Barbara 20), which is surrounded by small other authentic villages where we also sell rural properties. Each one of them has their historic centre and their shops, restaurants, bars, events and markets.

The larger cities are located at the following distances: Caspe (20 km), Gandesa (34 km), Alcañiz (49 km), Tortosa (67 km), Tarragona (112 km), Lleida (114 km), Zaragoza (130 km) or Barcelona (190 km).

There are good train and bus connections to and from the larger cities. For example, the bus (Hife) travels from Maella to Barcelona in 3 1/2 hours. The train (Renfe) travels for example from Caspe to Zaragoza in 1 hour and 41 minutes and from Caspe to Barcelona in 3 hours and 24 minutes.

The airports near Maella are:

  • Reus (101 km from Maella) – It is possible to fly to Reus from London, Glasgow, Dublin, Cardiff, Frankfurt, Brussel, Amsterdam or Eindhoven.
  • Zaragoza (130 km from Maella) – It is possible to fly to Zaragoza from London, Paris, Brussels (Charleroi) or Munich.
  • Barcelona (190 km from Maella) – It is possible to fly to Barcelona from London, Amsterdam, Brussels, Paris, Berlin and all other major cities from Europe.

2. What kind of properties do you offer?

Alvarez & Pannekeet offers finca rusticas, finca urbanas and casas de pueblo. Below we briefly explain what this means:

A finca rustica is a piece of land that is situated outside the boundaries of the village. These plots are not connected to the drinking water and electricity network, which means that you are responsible for these facilities, for example with solar panels and a reservoir for storing rainwater. Although some of the properties are connected to irrigation water. We, as an intermediary, can answer all your questions about this and we can assist you in acquiring these provisions. There is often a “mas” on the finca rusticas that we offer. The mas” can be renovated at any time after obtaining a permit, if the mas is situated inside the plot or has its own plot. The possibilities for building and renovating differ per property. After seeing a cadastral map, we normally know what the possibilities are through our experience, but you can always consult a local architect for a second opinion. Sometimes there is no “mas” on the property. Depending on the location and the size of the land, a new home can be built.

A finca urbana is a piece of land that is situated within the boundaries of the village and, unlike a finca rustica, are connected to the drinking water and electricity network or at least have the right to be connected. These plots are normally smaller plots than the finca rusticas and the price per square meter is higher.

A casa de pueblo is a village house. The village house was traditionally used as a farm. They lived in, animals were kept and the work vehicles and work materials were parked there. Most village houses in this region therefore have the same layout. Downstairs the donkey, the horse and the pigs slept and there was room for a tractor. The family lived on the first, second and sometimes third floor and chickens were kept on the top floor. Most houses still have all kinds of authentic elements, such as the massive natural stone walls, wooden beams, granite stairs and ceramic tiled floors.

3. What costs, a part from the price of the property, should I take into account? Such as notarial fees, brokerage fees, etc.

Agency fees:
The agency fee is included in the price.

Impuesto de Transmisión Patrimonial:
Transfer tax: In Aragon this is 8% of the purchase price, and in Catalonia this is 10% of the purchase price.

Notary fees:
This is an amount between 200 and 1.000 euro depending mainly on how the property is registered and the sales price.

Registration fee:
These are the costs to register the finca into your name, and are between 200 and 1.000 euro depending mainly on how the property is registered and the sales price.

4. What are the fixed annual expenses of a property?


– Building with roof: +/- 60 €
– Land tax per hectare ¨IBI rustico¨: +/- 5 €
– Road tax per hectare: +/- 4 €
– Garbage tax: +/- 75 €
– Irrigation water:
* ¨Sistema PEBEA¨ +/- 250 € – per hectare + plus consumption
* ¨Huerta traditional¨ +/- 80 € – per hectare regardless of use
* ¨Agua de invierno¨ +/- 100 € – per hectare regardless of use

Town house:

– Building tax ¨IBI urbano¨: Between 50 € and 150 €
– Drinkable water and sewage: +/- 120 €
– Garbage tax: +/- 75 €
– Electricity: min. 15 € – per month
– Contamination water tax: +/- 15 €

5. What is a Nota Simple and should I apply for one?

A Nota Simple is an official document of the Spanish Property Register (Registro de la Propiedad) about a property. Alvarez & Pannekeet applies for a Nota Simple at the register at all times before the transaction. On a Nota Simple, it is easy to state whether there is a debt on the finca or house, whose is/are the owner(s), if the property is rented to someone, whether the property is taken by the bank and whether the taxes are paid in the past. We also inform you at La Comunidad de Regantes’, to know if the water is paid when the property is connected to water.

6. Can I visit the finca(s) myself?

Normally we are the ones who show the fincas and townhouses to our customers. We make an appointment in advance, we have a meeting at our office and we make a good selection of properties to show based on the customer’s wishes and needs.

However, it is also possible to visit the fincas on your own. In this case we would appreciate it if the customer informs us first, because each finca is in a different specific situation and we need to confirm that this is possible.

You can send us an email with the properties you want to view. We will then send you all the information and coordinates. During your visit we will be in contact by telephone or WhatsApp to guide you if necessary.

Experience shows that it is usually positive if someone has visited the fincas before, because he/she has already completed an initial orientation phase and has gotten to know the area and the region for a bit.

7. How does the property reservation process work?

When someone decides to buy a property, we draw up a reservation contract that is signed by the real estate agent, the buyer and the seller. The buyer deposits an amount that is part of the total price. This down payment is usually 10% of the total amount. This contract ensures that the deed is formalized at the notary and signed by both parties within the next three months.

8. Is it possible to buy a finca or house at a distance?

You can buy a finca or home at a distance.

A signed notarial power of attorney from the buyer’s country of origin is required so that we as a real estate agent can purchase the property in your name at the notary in Caspe.

The process is quite simple. We draw up the power of attorney in English and Spanish (it only covers one page) and also include a power of attorney to obtain the N.I.E.. We then send this power of attorney to the buyer by email.

The buyer contacts his/her notary in his/her country of origin and makes an appointment to sign the power of attorney. After signing, his/her notary is responsible for affixing the Hague Apostille and sending the power of attorney by post to the notary in Caspe.

When the power of attorney has reached the notary in Caspe, we make an appointment and sign the deed with the selling party.

When a customer comes to visit us and decides to buy a finca/home, we often go to the notary in Caspe the next day or the same week to give us the authority to buy a finca/home in his/her name. The power of attorney costs 40 euros at the Notary in Caspe. The buyer then saves money because he/she does not have to travel to Spain again to complete the purchase at the notary. This mainly happens with customers who have already purchased a finca or house with us.

9. Can you also assist us with the purchase of a house or finca, when it´s not in your catalog?

We have been working as a real estate agent in Maella since 2011 and know many properties in our region, so it is quite possible that we have the property on file, even if it does not appear in our catalog on the website.

You can contact us by telephone or send a link of the house/finca so that we can inform you about the property. If the house/finca is sellable, we can assist you with the purchase. Regardless of whether it is offered by a private individual or a real estate agent.

10. What factors affect the price of a property?

There are several factors that affect the price of a property, some examples are:

– The location

– The presence of water and / or irrigation system

– The size of the plot

– Reachability

– The plantation

– The state of the orchard

– Emotional value of the vendor

– The presence of a building and the size and state of it

– The invested money in the property by the vendor

– Personal financial situation of the vendor

11. What is a NIE number (Número de Identificación de Extranjero)?

Foreigners who, due to their economic, professional or social interests, are going to be related to Spain, must be provided, for identification purposes, with a personal, unique and exclusive number.

This number is the equivalent to the DNI number of any Spaniard and is necessary to be able to pay the taxes related to the purchase of a property.

12. Where can I apply for a NIE?

There are three ways to apply for a NIE:

  1. You can apply for your NIE at the Spanish Embassy of your country. Keep in mind that it may take several weeks or even months before you will get an appointment to apply for your NIE. The cost of this is +/- 10 euro.
  2. You can apply for your NIE giving power or attorney to the buffet of lawyers, we collaborate with “Lawyers in Spain”. This power can be signed the same day that you purchase the property at the Notary in Spain. It can also be signed in your country. In this case we would prepare this power for you and monitor the whole process. The NIE would be obtained in about one week. This is the fastest way to get it. The cost of this is 199 euro. You will pay this to the lawyers office.
  3. You can apply for your NIE in Spain. This can be done in the “Oficina de Extranjería”. You will receive an application form, which you can fill in. This form can also be printed and completed before. Normally you are able to collect your N.I.E. within two weeks. The inconvenience in this case is that normally they will give you an appointment for many months to come.

To reserve a house or finca it’s not necessary to have a NIE. This is done by a Contract of Deposit (Contrato de Arras) and therefore the details of your passport or ID are enough. Once you come back to your country, you can apply for the NIE, so that when you return to Spain you´ll have the NIE for the Notary Appointment. Else you can apply it the same day of the signature at the Notary as we mentioned by giving a power of attorney.

13. Is it mandatory to have a NIE number to be able to buy a property in Spain?

Despite the fact that in all the internet forums you will find the information that it is necessary and essential to have the NIE on the day of signing the sale before a Notary, with us there is more flexibility.

With us it is possible to purchase the property without a N.I.E., if you give power of attorney on the same deed to request the N.I.E. number. The notary we work with accepts this because the N.I.E. is necessary to pay the transfer tax (Impuesto de Transmisión Patrimonial) and this should be paid within one month after signing at the notary.

Because the NIE is usually obtained within a week after signing, it makes it possible to pay the Transfer Tax within the allowed period.

14. Does a finca have an address?

A finca has a ¨polígono¨ number and a ¨parcela¨ number, no street name. That’s why the post won’t be delivered on a rural property. Therefore you could open a mailbox at the post office corresponding to the municipality where your finca is located. If there is a registered building on the finca it´s possible to get registered as a citizen of the municipality where the property is located at the town hall.

A village house on the other hand does have an address, the post will be delivered and it’s possible to get registered as a citizen as well.

15. Is it possible to live permanently on a finca?

Due to depopulation in rural areas in Spain, the councils of these municipalities generally make it easy to register as an inhabitant, since they are interested in having more inhabitants and thus receiving more subsidies from the Government.

For example, in Maella, where we have the office, it is possible to be registered as a resident of Maella at the town hall when there is a “mas” on the property.

Facilities such as electricity, water and the internet should be generated alternatively, because the plot is situated outside the urban area. Those who live outside the urban area pay waste tax just like the inhabitants who live within the urban area.

Each village has its own conditions to be registered at the town hall.

16. Do I need a Spanish bank account to pay taxes in Spain?

It’s not necessary to open a bank account, because it’s possible to pay by bank automatically, by direct debit with your foreigner account. If the property has water and/or electricity then you will need a Spanish account to be able to pay these bills also by direct debit.

For the purchase itself it’s not necessary to have a Spanish account.

17. Can I open a bank account if I do not have a Spanish address?

You can open an account once you have a NIE. The bank will ask you for a phone number and an e-mail address to send bank statements. If you go to the bank please bring your passport or ID as well.

18. Is it possible to renovate a “mas”?

It is possible to renovate an existing building, when it is located within the boundaries of the finca or when the building has its own plot number. It’s important to check this before purchasing a property. Sometimes even the vendor does not know this because it is quite common in this area that the building is located on “monte” (municipal land) or just outside the plot.

In order to renovate a “mas”, a permit is required and, if necessary, a corresponding project from an architect.

The project of an architect is only required when a new roof has to be placed or when the “mas” is going to be extended. For other types of renovations a permit is enough.

Alvarez & Pannekeet assists with the permit application at the corresponding Town Hall and the entire process of the project.

19. What possibilities are there for new construction on a finca?

The process of the construction of a new building is normally a bit more complicated than the renovation of a “mas”. For example a minimum surface area is required, it varies per municipality and in which area it is located. In addition, aspects such as distance from the boundary of the plot, distance from the road, distance from the river and from other houses play a part. And possibly other aspects that play at that particular location.

Thanks to our experience, contacts and good relationship with the municipalities we can find out if it is possible to build something new on a plot and under what conditions.

In general, the municipality’s preference is for the renovation of existing “mas”.

20. What exactly is your assistance in house renovation?

Alvarez & Pannekeet accompanies the customer throughout the process of a renovation. This guidance starts with a visit to the property or town house with a local contractor where the (new) owner submits his or her wishes. Based on his knowledge and experience the contractor advises and when a clear image is formed, the contractor prepares a quotation. Once there is an agreement, the contractor applies for the appropriate license (permit). If a project is also necessary, the architect applies for the permit.

We work with local contractors, those who are aware of the regulations and the process of the application for permits and the ones who are in contact with other local professionals such as architects, carpenters, painters, ironworkers, etc. We also mediate in renovating roads and the provision of, for example, water and firewood.

During the renovation, there is direct contact between the customer and the contractor via email. We remain in contact with both parties if there are any questions and / or additions in the works. We regularly send photos, so that the customer can follow the renovation works (from home), in case they are not in Spain.

There are many satisfied customers about the result of their renovated house, farmhouse or track. The link below will take you to our FLICKR page where you can see various renovation processes which Alvarez & Pannekeet has assisted:


21. Can I place a mobile home or similar on my finca?

There are no clear regulations about placing a mobile home, container, caravan, yurt, etc. Each case is treated in a unique way by the local municipality where it is located. Finally it will always be your own responsibility if you place something on your property without applying for a permit.

In general municipalities prefer people to renovate the authentic “mases”.

However, if a license has been requested for the renovation of a “mas”, it is accepted to stay in a mobile home during the renovation.

22. How do I get gas, water and light?


In Spain, in rural areas, people do not often have natural gas (city gas) at home like in other countries where each household has a gas connection. In Spain this is not possible everywhere, due to the distances and the landscape. That’s why gas bottles are used. Gas bottles are available at many gas stations. For the bottle you pay one-time +/- 25 euros. The price for the gas is changing regularly, so we can not list a price. For those who want to replace their bottle for a full one, they can also redeem with the gas delivery truck that drives through the villages.


Some properties have a connection to water and others don’t. Plots that do not have a connection are often equipped with a water reservoir (cisterna) or a water tank (deposit). It is possible to fill this reservoir by rainwater, which is collected via the roof. Or you could collect water from the village or it can be brought to your finca.

Another option is making a well. In our area the water is about 100 to 200 meters deep. The price per meter is about 80 euro. The licence for making a well is about 800 euro. The well needs a pump that works on a generator or solar panels.

It is indicated in the description of the finca if a finca is connected to water.


There are several ways to get electricity. If a finca is near the regular electricity grid, it is possible to establish a connection. If this is not possible, you can also get energy by alternative methods like solar panels, benzine generators and wind turbines. Due to the many hours of sunshine and wind, these are good alternatives to obtain energy.

23. How is the weather in the area?

The climate has, within its Mediterranean characteristics, a continental tone. This means relatively long winters and summers. During the winter, temperatures range between 0º and 15º Celsius, while in summer it hovers between 25º and 40º Celsius. The many hours of sunshine are occasionally broken by a small rainfall. The winters contain warm periods, and as the fog settles in the valleys, this landscape shows an extraordinary beauty.

Agricultural activity is the main source of income for the region. People grow olives, almonds, peaches, nectarines, grapes, cherries and figs. At a private level, there are many locals who have their own garden ‘huerta’ where they grow all kinds of vegetables, often ecologically.

24. Is the climate good for growing vegetables and fruit?

It is a perfect environment, with excellent weather conditions to grow all kinds of vegetables. With water, you can grow vegetables throughout the whole year. The climate is ideal for grapes and almond, olive and peach trees. It is also possible to plant apple, fig, nectarine and walnut trees. The landscape is flat between the mountains and therefore ideal for working with the earth.

25. What can I do with the orchard?

The trees mentioned above generally do very well in these areas. Villagers have been earning money for years with the sale of their almonds, olives, peaches, grapes and all kinds of fruits. Depending on the rainfall, the trees sometimes need some extra water to improve the quality of the nuts and fruits.

It is also possible that somebody else takes care of the trees. There are farmers who wish to maintain trees. You can also work with someone who has experience in maintaining a finca. With the goal to maintain the finca independently in a few years.

You are not obliged to prune the trees or plow the land. But if you wish to maintain the orchard, Alvarez & Pannekeet can assist you in finding the right person.

26. Do I need a permit to remove the trees?

You don’t need a permit to cut the trees of your own orchard. Although the pine trees inside the plot or surrounding the plot can´t be cut.

27. Can I receive the internet on a finca?

You can receive the internet via your mobile phone or satellite.

28. What if I want to learn the language?

Not a lot of people speak English in this area. Of course, it is nice if you are in a supermarket, bakery or restaurant and you know some Spanish words. Lessons are offered in each village. You will learn a few basic sentences soon, so you can manage yourself reasonably. Additionally, you may not see them, but hidden between the mountains and in every village, you will find people from your country or people from other countries.

29. What do the villages offer?

The small villages in the area have all kinds of shops, such as greengrocers, bakers, supermarkets, butchers, bicycle shops and larger stores such as do-it-yourself shops and hardware stores. There are also post offices, swimming pools, tennis courts, cinemas and gyms. There are churches and in Maella there is a 24-hour GP station. Every village has several bars and restaurants and annual events. In Maella, for example, there is a cooking contest ‘Sartané‘ and each village has its own ‘Fiesta Mayor‘, a large seven-day summer event with eateries, live music, children’s activities, sports competitions, fireworks and disco evenings. And in several villages, such as Maella, it is possible to take Spanish lessons, for a very reasonable price.

30. Could you say something about the history of Maella?

Until 1970 there was mainly self-sufficient life in Maella. The inhabitants of Maella ‘maellanos‘ had chickens, donkeys, horses and pigs, grain and vegetable gardens and did trade. Until then there were no tractors and the people of Maella sometimes walked 20 kilometers from their village house to the finca. They stayed there for weeks and sometimes months, for example during the olive harvest. At the finca they lived in a ¨mas¨, a place to stay, which is made exclusively from natural materials. The walls were made of natural stone and the roofs of pine trunks, reed and handmade roof tiles. Insulation and the joints between the stones were made from a mix of water and soil.

The finca consisted of various parts. One or more plots consisted of the orchard, these were mostly olive groves, almonds trees and vineyards. One parcel was set aside for the grain that was used for making bread, for the animals and for the farmers to sleep on. And, often on a higher elevation, the plot is called the “era”. There the grain was processed and the chaff separated from the grain.

A lot changed for the ¨maellanos¨ when the first tractors were purchased around 1960. The long walking tours were no longer necessary and the work went faster. People also no longer had to stay for months on their finca. That is why no new ¨mases¨ were built after 1960.

But since a few years now, the sometimes 300-year-old “mases” are getting a new life. For example, the floors and the joints made with earth are replaced by cement and the houses are equipped with a kitchen and a bathroom. The ¨maellanos¨ use the “mases” today as a place to spend the day or the weekend with family and friends and for others the mas turns into a beautiful home.


Mas: This is a house made of natural stone, which is often over 100 years old. The mas has traditionally been made exclusively of natural materials; Natural stone, a mixture of clay, lime and sand and wood from the pine trees that grow here. A “mas” is perfect for the climate here. In the summer it is pleasantly cool and in winter it keeps the warmth inside from the wood stove.

Finca: This is a piece of land that sometimes includes a building.

Finca rustica: A piece of land that is located outside the boundaries of the village, these plots are normally not connected to the drinking water and electricity grid.

Finca urbana: A piece of land that is situated within the boundaries of the village, which is always connected to water and electricity.

Finca with water: This is a finca that is connected to irrigation water. This could be via the irrigation canal of the village or via the water network that supplies water to finca rusticas. Not all fincas are connected to water, this is indicated in the description of the property.

Water deposit: Sometimes there is a deposit inside the mas which is a concrete reservoir where rainwater is stored. This concrete square reservoir is often situated under the mas, so the water stays cool. They can have a capacity of, for example 10.000 liters.

Ruin: This is a “mas”, of which only the walls remain.

NIE: This is a fiscal number you have to apply for at the Immigration Service when you want to purchase a house or a finca, it’s your identification number in Spain. You´ll also need this number to submit your tax return, start a business, open a bank account, for almost all other forms you need to fill in, as well as the purchase of different items.

Nota simple: This is an extract from the Spanish Property Register. This shows whether there are multiple owners and whether there is any debt and / or inheritance.

Renovations and Locations

Ruralpropertyspain.com shows assisted renovations via Flickr and the locations of the finca can be viewed on Google Maps: