Spanish Banks Flout EC Regulations

December 15th, 2009

If you bank in Spain, your bank is probably ripping you off regarding bank charges for transfers. This week, we transferred some money between a Euro bank account in Spain to another Euro bank account in the UK and our bank charged us €63 Euros for the privilege of doing so.

However, a quick phone call later and €62 Euros of that transfer fee had been refunded. Here’s how to do the same with your bank.

In September of this year the European Commission passed regulation 924/2009 which states that charges for transactions offered by your bank have to be the same whether the payment is national or cross-border.

In our case, our bank charges €1 for national transfers, yet persists in applying a percentage based charge for international transfers.

We simply had to remind them of this EC regulation, and hey presto, we had been refunded.

If your bank is less willing to cooperate, you can dob them in to the Spanish national authority and make a formal complaint by emailing The Bank of Spain.

If that fails, you can also and ask the Bank of Spain to mediate a resolution to the problem.

More information about EC Regulation 924/2009 can be found at the European Commission website and Wikipedia.

Spain’s banks have a long history of dodgy charges – especially to foreign clients. Now the EC has actually done something useful to bring those practices to light and, hopefully, stop them.

In the news this week, the EU Sets Deadlines for Deficit Countries. Spain has been given until 2013 to sort out its public deficit and bring it back from around 11% currently to the EU maximum of 3%.

Is Spain doing enough to make that happen? Ratings company, Standard & Poor’s doesn’t think so.

This week it lowered Spain’s rating from ‘stable’ to ‘negative’ and said the country will experience a more pronounced and persistent deterioration in its budget and a more prolonged period of economic weakness, than it expected at the start of the year.

As reported last week, the Spanish government plans to raise value-added tax, income tax and capital gains tax in 2010 – even though the economy is projected to continue to shrink. Tough times ahead for Spain’s economists – much as in Ireland and the UK, not to mention Greece, Portugal & Italy.

Regarding Spanish property prices, TINSA released their November figures this week. Again, be cautious about the upswing in the first of their graphs. Although the trend of the line makes for a smiley face, the reality is that house prices in Spain are still dropping – although not as rapidly as before.

On the plus side, a few more months of this kind of trend should see the true bottom of the market – and perhaps even a little bit of price increases as seems to be happening in the UK currently.

Nick Snelling has another excellent article this week about The Complexities of the Spanish Property Market.

Nick says: “For a foreign buyer to look upon the Spanish property market as a lethal area to avoid, at all costs, would be a mistake. The truth is that the Spanish property market has many different parts to it. It is far from being a one-dimensional market and still offers value for money to the careful buyer.”

The Spanish property market is certainly in crisis – but this does not mean that the entire Spanish property market is defective. Some sectors will always have long term desirability and be sound investments. Just be sure that you buy into a sector which has assured value and that you are not seduced by attractively-priced properties in the wrong sector.

In Spanish Property Prices Walking the Talk, Mark Stucklin indicates that some of the price reductions from Banks and Developers might not be all that they appear to be.

As I mentioned last week, the banks have largely failed to bring genuinely discounted property to the market, and instead some developers are now making key-ready properties available to short-circuit the banks completely.

There seems to be a lot going on in the Spanish economy and its property market at the moment and, overall, I agree with Mark’s conclusion: “All will change in 2010, one way or another.”

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