Spanish homes sold at knock-down prices – provided you let the previous owner die there

Spanish pensioners who are property rich but cash poor are latching on to a new trend in the housing market by selling their homes but retaining the right to live in them until their death.

Elderly people like Carmen Segovia, a 92-year-old from Madrid, are gaining a boost to their quality of life in their twilight years by selling what is known as bare ownership of their properties while retaining the right of usufruct, meaning they continue to live in their homes as long as they remain alive.

"What I want is to die in my house,” Ms Segovia told the Spanish online newspaper El Español about her plan of selling her 100-square-metre flat for €200,000 (£180,000).

“I have all my family memories here so until I die, I’d like to live well."

For investors looking for a property at a good price there is, of course, no guarantee on how soon they will be able to exercise ownership.

Ms Segovia, who never married or had children, said she remains in good health.

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“Thank God, I have no illnesses. Frankly, now I just want to live in peace and travel,” she said, adding that last year she visited China after holidaying in Egypt in 2016.

With the Spanish property market heating up once again after an economic crisis that saw prices fall by 20 per cent on 2008 levels, investors hope that buying well-priced homes and waiting on their dwellers to die will bring rich rewards.

Also popular in France, real estate agents with experience of the practice say that discounts for investors on the real value of the property purchased can reach up to 50 per cent. 

But some Spaniards have described the trend as morbid when commenting on bare ownership property ads on social media.

“You could end up willing someone to die to use the house they live in. I wouldn’t be able to sleep”, commented Twitter user Troya la Gatika.

Another concern expressed by some social media is the impact on homeowners’ heirs in a country like Spain, where children are entitled by law to inherit a share of their parents’ assets.   

“We have three daughters who are all well set up,” said 88-year-old Mariano Muñoz, who has sold the Madrid home in which he continues to live with his wife, 85.

“They don’t need the money and we thought it was a good idea to sell. This way we can have money to live without worries.”   

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