Overturned Mortgage Rulings Creates Chaos at the Supreme Court and Bank Stock Falls

This week has seen unprecedented Supreme Court action that has unleashed all kinds of mayhem on an internal level, not to mention the consequences this has had on the financial sector. Over the past few years we have seen thousands of court cases revolving around the financial sector and their methods when it comes to granting mortgages. The primary issue was in relation to the infamous Floor Clause inserted in mortgage agreements (in many cases without advising the mortgage holder!) but a Supreme Court ruling in favour of mortgage holders obligated banks to reimburse any benefits obtained which could be a few thousand euros per case. The secondary issue and the one this article refers to has to do with reclaiming the Stamp Duty paid on the Mortgage Deed.

In February of this year, the Supreme Court by means of its Civil Court issued a ruling that stated the mortgage holder is responsible for payment of the corresponding Stamp Duty, however, this same ruling was OVERTURNED by its own Court for Contentious-Administrative Proceedings in an unprecedented action last Tuesday 16th October 2018 and recorded under Ruling Number 1505/2018. This ruling corrects the existing ruling that was passed only a few months ago and determines that in fact the BANK and not the client/mortgage holder is responsible for payment of any Stamp Duty due when a Mortgage Deed is granted before a Notary Public. How has this come about and what was the reasoning given for this surprising turn of events?

Mrs Lourdes Amasio Díaz, a barrister who represents the company known as “Empresa Municipal de la Vivienda de Rivas Vaciamadrid S.A.” initiated an appeal to reverse a ruling against her client as recorded under Recurso de Casación 5350/2017 and this is what was considered at the Court for Contentious-Administrative Proceedings. As stated previously, this appeal made Magistrate Jesús Cudero reconsider the Supreme Courts previous ruling and side with her client. The criteria used to arrive at this decision was the fact the only interested party in registering a mortgage loan at the Land Registry Office is the bank because it is the only way they can make claims against the mortgage holder in the event of non-repayment of the loan, therefore the bank should be liable for the resulting tax.

This about-turn can seem conflictive but as it turns out when the matter was apparently resolved in February 2018 at Civil Court, the same issue was already on the table at the Court for Contentious-Administrative Proceedings which now does not hold the same point of view.

The result of last Tuesday’s ruling is a massive dip in the stock market which has affected Spain’s major banks, primarily, Bankia, Bankinter, BBVA, CaixaBank and Banco de Sabadell. The one major factor that has not been detailed in the ruling is whether the Stamp Duty for mortgages signed over the past four years can be reclaimed or whether it only applies to new mortgages. Of course, the banks interpret the ruling to apply only to new mortgages, so this point must be clarified.

It would appear the Spanish banks’ reign of tyranny is over and they are being made accountable for their one-sided dealings with their own clients, however, this ruling has stirred up a hornet’s nest and it is far from over… Not even 24 hours after this latest ruling was passed, the Supreme Court has made yet another astonishing decision to review this sentence. Mr Luis María Díez-Picazo, President of the Court for Contentious-Administrative Proceedings has decided it would be prudent to delay this ruling until other considerations can be examined. By this he is referring to the effect this has had on the stock market and what it would mean if the banks have to reimburse what experts estimate between 6.000 and 24.000 million euros.

A Plenary Session of the Court must be held within the next few weeks in which 31 magistrates must decide whether the latest ruling that determines the banks are responsible for any Stamp Duty that arises from mortgage deeds will be accepted or not. What is going to happen in the meantime? Well, in theory, a legal ruling was passed so notaries will continue to advise that according to the ruling of the 16th October 2018 and applicable from Thursday 18th October 2018, it corresponds the banks to pay the tax. The shock attempt on Friday to reverse that sentence is a mere Memo but does not qualify as legislation until such a time the plenary session decides which ruling stands.

Some clients who were due to sign for mortgage loans at Notary that Tuesday postponed their appointments until the outcome of the court case was known but even though the ruling is now debatable, Stamp Duty in the Canary Islands for example is payable within 30 days of signing the deed (in other autonomous regions the deadline is 60 days) so I expect the banks will until the last moment before paying in case they can pass that expense back to the mortgage holder.

What we have here is a split decision within the Supreme Court itself with two very different rulings issued by two different chambers. My personal opinion? A matter of this magnitude should have been determined at a Plenary Session in the first place instead of allowing two chambers to pass a sentence on different cases which has allowed this gross conflict to occur. We’ll have to see what the outcome of the Session is and hopefully it will be in favour of the little guy to help put an end to what I call the Banks’ Reign of Tyranny.

Choosing the Best Green Home Builder

Today many people are “going green”, which means that they are becoming environmentally friendly in how they live their lives and minimizing the harm done to the earth. When some people decide to build their home from the bottom up, they decide to have a green home builder build their home. This contractor would build their home with low environmental and energy efficiency in mind. To find a green home builder you should talk to the contractors in your area. Some that will travel to your area to build your home but their services will add more expense to the cost of your home.

To ensure that you will have the best green home builder ask them what type of building material they will use. You should also inquire about their disposal methods to make sure they are in compliant with sustainability practices. The materials that they should use are non-toxic when possible, and environmentally friendly. They should also be materials that come from renewable sources, or sustainable material. This can include materials from homes that have been knocked down. This material can include old doors, cabinets, some of the wood to accent the home such as using the material for ceiling beams, and more. They should try to avoid using plastics and choose their wood carefully. You should ask to see examples of the green projects they have completed. Their construction philosophy should focus on green building. It should not just focus on using green techniques as a secondary technique. Make sure that the contract you sign states that it will be constructed from sustainable and green material.

A home builder may tell you that they are using green building techniques but it could be easy for them to start using less environmentally friendly techniques and designs to save money on materials so they can put more money in their pockets. This is why you need to be sure that they are a reputable home builder and have good references as a green construction company. They need to be knowledgeable about green techniques and processes and committed to green construction and design. If you want your new green custom built home to be built using unconventional techniques make sure the home builder can demonstrate they understand the techniques you want and can do them correctly.

Before you choose a green home builder, you should educate yourself on what constitutes a green home and the process to build one. This will help you to determine a good green home builder and to know if they are cutting corners using non-environmentally friendly material. Having a green home can save you money on heating and cooling costs, and if sustainable material is used it can save these materials from being disposed of improperly.

Consider Resale Value Before You Renovate

When doing renovations, people rarely think about long-term resale value. Most families just want a really nice place to live and they work to create their forever home. However, life can be unpredictable. So while it is joyful to make a dream home, those dreams need to be balanced with an understanding of whether or not those granite countertops or that second story are good investments in the long run.

What is resale value?

We hear the idea of resale value quite often pertaining to real estate. The ideal is to buy a property that is a good investment and to have its value appreciate. Good maintenance and appropriate renovations help ensure that when it comes time to sell again, the property has gained equity and you’ll make money.

However, the amount of money you’ll make depends on market appreciation. Which is why it’s important to make improvements that fit the property and the neighborhood.

Location the key factor to consider

If you’ve bought a property by a highway or another not-so-great location, you probably got it for a good price. If that location’s value doesn’t increase during the time you own it, you’ll probably have to sell it for a similarly good price, even if you’ve done a lot of work on it.

Many property owners invest in renovations that aren’t in keeping with the neighbourhood. As a result, they end up selling for less than they invested, which can be heartbreaking.

Before you renovate, look at what has been selling around you – at what cost for what quality? If the most expensive home in your neighborhood sold for $400,000 after being completely renovated, it doesn’t make sense to style your house to a value any higher.

And really, how special are those $10-per-square-foot tiles anyway? Go with the $5 tiles instead.

Focus your investment to one or two elements per room. Make pricey items such as granite countertops, a fancy backsplash, or a higher end faucet; work like show pieces, similar to a piece of art.

Smallest may be best when it comes to resale
As for adding a second story to create more space for an expanding family, it may be worth it in the long run to hunt for a bigger home.

If you invest an extra $100,000 on a two-bedroom bungalow in a neighborhood full of two-bedroom bungalows, you may never recover that full investment. It may be a much better idea to take your equity and find a larger home in a neighborhood where your investment will hold and even grow in time.

When it comes to resale value, it’s always better to have the smallest house in an area with mansions rather than a $600K house surrounded by $300K houses.

Of course, creating a joyful home should always be the first priority. Just make wise decisions that will bring you prosperity and happiness for years to come.