Spanish: Real Estate Types
Spain has such a variety of landmarks and locations that foreigners continue to buy, rent, invest into, and sell properties across the country. With this article on types of real estate, I will try to help you understand the most common living spaces you will find in real estate advertisements, some of which might result in confusion and surprise.
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Alquería comes from the Arabic al-qarīa (village, hamlet), and in Al-Andalus it is a reference to small rural communities that were located near medinas (cities). Since the 15th century, alquerías are farmhouses with agricultural estates that are inhabited by rural lords. Found mainly in the east and southeast of Spain, there are two main types of alquerías: Valencian and Grenadine. Many of the alquerías have disappeared due to depopulation and abandonment. Those that are preserved have been adapted to the hotel trade and rural tourism such as accommodation, restaurants, cultural centers, museums, or workshops.
Apartamento or Piso
Apartamento is an apartment (AE) or flat (BE), a self-contained housing unit that occupies only part of a building, generally on a single story. In Spain, we usually call apartamento small flats with a single room, although independent from the rest of the house, and piso is used in colloquial and commercial language as a synonym for housing or plant. Apartmentos are an alternative for couples, single people or investors while pisos are appropriate for families as those are a set of rooms that constitute an independent dwelling in a house of various heights.
Ático, Buhardilla, and Desván
The under deck part of a building that is just under the roof is called “bajo cubierta.” In Spain, the last floor of a building not always is an attic and not all buildings have dedicated under-roof spaces, but we have a few differences that might all be translated into English as “attic” when they are not the same. The ático (penthouse) is the top floor that is dedicated to a living space and may also lead to a private or community terrace. A desván (loft) is a place where one stores useless or disused objects between the roof and the ceiling. Entretecho, sobrado, doblado, guardilla, baburril, and zarzo are synonyms to desván. Buhardilla (attic) is a window that stands out vertically on the roof of a house that serves to give light or to go out. The last floors can be with a normal or a sloping roof (techo abuhardillado). In the 2nd picture, you see un ático retranqueado (retrasado) — a setback attic that has one wall facing the street (set back) to the façade to gain space for a terrace on the top floors of a building.
Bodega in Spain is a wine shop or wine cellar, and in US-based Hispanic communities—a convenience store or a small grocery shop. A winery is a construction, building or underground place whose objective is destined to the production and storage of wine, materials, raw materials and semi-finished products. We distinguish commercial, farm, and urban wineries and most of those need some kind of license to operate. Wine amateurs traditionally had to travel to remote areas to learn about winemaking firsthand and to taste the offerings of a wine producer in the setting in which they were made. Today, many urban wineries are also incorporating full-service restaurants or venues for live entertainment. Some very beautiful agricultural warehouses that incorporate mansions (caserones) and palaces also serve as wedding venues.
Cabaña or Cabana
Cabana or cabaña refers to a “recreational cottage,” a simple dwelling, typically located in rural or semi-rural areas. Originally, cottages were small peasant units with just a few acres of arable land that housed agricultural workers and their families. In large areas of northern Spain, especially in Cantabria, you will also meet cabañas ganaderas that are basically cattle ranches; cabañas pasiegas that are rural buildings linked to livestock, which are inhabited seasonally during the trasterminance between the lower areas of the valleys and the summits; cabañas rurales — rural cottages; and casa cabaña — cottages used as year-round homes. Cabañas are also employed in rural tourism as housing options. Tree and wooden houses can also be called cabañas. There are cabañas de verano — a summer country house of an urban family that is generally small and from wood that can be also met under the Russian term dacha (дача). The use of cabana or cabaña as an “indigenous hut” is common in Latin America. As synonyms for cabaña, you will hear choza, barraca, rancho, and caseto.
A casa is a house, a single-unit residential building, which may range in complexity from a rudimentary hut to a complex structure of wood, masonry, concrete or other material, outfitted with plumbing, electrical, and heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems. The social unit that lives in a casa is known as hogar — a home. There are three main types of houses: aislada — insulated or independent, its entire perimeter is exterior; pareada — semi-detached, a single dividing wall is shared with another building; and adosada — attached, more than one dividing wall is attached with other buildings owned by different owners. You will often meet the self-explanatory combination casa rural (rural house) and casa de pueblo (village house). Casas prefabricadas are prefabricated houses: houses built from standardized sections, which are manufactured in advance outside of their site, and which are then placed in the final location for their final assembly.
You will meet the word casal and you won’t find it on Wikipedia. Casal does not mean anything related to “couple” by etymology and has not a standard translation into English. In the Middle Ages, a casalis in Latin or casal in Old French and Spanish was “a cluster of houses in a rural setting.” In Modern Spain, casal can stand for at least six different things: 1. the alternative name of casa rural — farmhouse or labor house; 2. part of the name of restaurants and dining establishments where you can eat comida casolana or comida casera (homemade food) or are located in old buildings that used to form a casal as El Casal de Pepa orCasal de Armán, etc.; 3. alternative name of casa solariega or solar— the manor house; 4. alternative Spanish name given in Catalonia to squatted houses or social centers; 5. alternative name of a solar (solar edificable, vacío, baldío, parcela abierta) — Spanish word accepted in the Anglophone community as well to denominate a building site or a buildable or empty lot; and, 6. Middle Ages independent feudal holdings not linked to a manor reserve from where you’d hear it as forming the name of locations such as the Madrid metro station Conde de Casal.
Caserón is a mansion or barracks — a very large house, especially ramshackle and old. A synonym for mansión, casona, casa, and casón, while restaurants and hostels are established in these types of buildings, they are believed to be hunted by ghosts because they resemble to sets used in horror movies. Exclusive for the Halloween season, the Madrid Amusement Park serves terror at El Viejo Caserón (The Old Mansion) where infernal creatures shove visitors into panic as they descend into the crypt and visit the madhouse. In Torrejón de Ardoz, zombies stalk the longuest passage of terror called Caserón del Terror.
Chabolas are habitats that do not meet the characteristics and conditions to be classified as dwellings, nor are they capable of becoming such with an improvement of rehabilitation or transformation, usually made with construction waste materials, plastics, wooden boards or corrugated iron, among others. El chabolismo (the shantytown) is considered a form of cultural expression of the gypsy but in Spain, chabolas are more likely to be inhabited by junkies and people who are low-lives rather than gypsies. Of course, nobody sells chabolas: in real estate ads, you will meet the expression chabola para aperos, which is a hut for tools.
Chalé or Chalet
Chalet comes from French-speaking Switzerland and was originally referred to as a shepherd’s house. Typical of the Alpine region, it is also used for other purposes in Spain and North America. A chalé or chalet is a single-family home, which shares land on the same farm with an unbuilt surface, such as a garden or an adjacent patio, but without an interior patio between the rooms. In addition to housing, it may also have a stable, barn, workshop, warehouse, etc. Traditionally a country housing, chalets are now used for tourist purposes such as restaurants, hotels and holiday homes. Often independent, there are two other types of chalets: 1. chalet adosado — a townhouse that forms a unit from a group of houses built in a row and attached by a dividing wall; and, 2. chalet pareado — a semi-detached house or a semi (a single-family house that has another attached at one of its ends).
Chozo or Choza
A chozo or choza is a small hut or shack similar to a bothy. It is constructed as a basic branch or stone shelter built in mountainous areas or in the basements, wastelands or meadows of the fields that were used by shepherds and farmers to spend the night with the herd or to protect themselves from the inclement weather during peasant work. The typical choza or shepherd’s hut has a circular floor plan and a conical roof to prevent rainwater from penetrating inside (1st picture). Some might be made as a shepherd’s mobile hut (2nd picture). The cubierta (cover) can be made with different types of plants called escoba (broom, 3rd picture), which are waterproof and easy to hold. In Spain, choza was a traditional resource for transhumant goatherds and shepherds. In large areas of the provinces of Cáceres, Soria, Navarra, Álava, La Rioja, Pontevedra, La Mancha and Southeast Madrid there is a type of hut built entirely of stone in the lands of work or grazing away from the village and that served to store tools and shelter from bad weather, and as a temporary storehouse for harvested products (potatoes, corn, etc.).
A cortijo (German: Bauernhof, English: farmhouse) is a type of traditional rural dwelling (finca) with adequate housing for the master, or el señorio, and outbuildings for the cortijeros — laborers and their families. Typical of southern Spain, it is the most common rustic property in Andalusia and is also similar to la casería — a rural settlement characteristic of Asturias. Cortijos are self-sufficient units found in areas far away from cities and difficult to access, associated with a large family farming or livestock operation in the vast and empty adjoining lands. Its main activity is usually the cultivation and storage of wheat and other cereals. Most cortijos became deserted following General Franco’s Plan de Estabilización and the abandonment of traditional agricultural practices by the local youth in the second half of the 20th century.
Dúplex is a single-family home with two different floors connected to each other by an internal staircase or an elevator. Much more rarely met, three-unit buildings are called triplex; four-unit — fourplex, quadplex or quadruplex; and, with more than four units — multiplex.
Estudio or apartamento-estudio is a single or a study, a very small house designed for a single person. It is common to rent studio apartments for temporary stays, making up most of the offer in tourist areas.
Finca, Fundo or Predio
A finca refers to a piece of rural or agricultural land, typically with a cottage, farmhouse or estate building present, and often adjacent to a woodland or plantation. A finca is also known in law as fundo or predio. The delimitation of land, called boundary, can be physical, using fences, markers or other systems, or simply legal, by means of the description in a property deed. All rural houses are fincas that are further divided into cortijos, haciendas, granjas, and the likes. In tourism, the term has gained the colloquial meaning of a holiday home in a rural setting, situated on the Spanish mainland, the Balearics, and the Canary Islands, and throughout the countries of Spanish-speaking Latin America. Fincas can typically look back on extensive development history and are often older than 300 years. In some regions, however, especially in the Balearics, new buildings are erected.
Granja, Chacra, Establo or Piscifactoría
Granja (from the Latin granica “granary”) or chacra (from the Quechua čhakra) is a farm, a rural land in which agriculture or cattle raising is carried out. Granjas include various structures, dedicated to the production and management of food, fibers, and, increasingly, fuel. Granjas can be owned and operated by a single individual, a family, community, corporation, or business. Chacra is a Hispanicized loanword for a small garden or farm, often on the outskirts of a city, which produces food for the inhabitants of the city. The term is most commonly used to refer to farms located on ejidos (agricultural commons) in parts of Latin America, but you will hear it in Spain as well because of expat population. Granjas can refer to commercial farms that are intended for raising livestock. Establos are stables used for operations mainly involved in the training of the horses. Granja / finca lechera is a diary farm that is used primarily for the production of milk and dairy products. Granja / finca de apicultura or granja / finca para colmenas is a beekeeping farm that has fields for beehives and produces and commercializes honey and its derivatives. Piscifactoría is a fish farm that raises fish in captivity as a food source. By the Programa de Educación Ambiental (Environmental Education Program), there are granjas educativas or granjas escuelas that serve as school farms — establishments where knowledge related to animal husbandry is taught to students.
Hacienda is an estate system of Andalusian origin (finca) similar to a Roman latifundium that in the US refers to an architectural style of the earlier estate manor houses. Derived from the Spanish verb hacer (to make), haciendas are business enterprises consisting of various money-making ventures that are also used as temporary residence for the wealthy social class. Located much closer to urbanized areas than the cortijos, haciendas refer to landed estates of significant size with a stately home accessible from its own courtyard; smaller holdings (estancias or ranchos) owned by Spaniards and criollos that serve the masters; and, set of agricultural constructions for laborers and cattlemen. Haciendas produce olive oil and less often wine, but also can incorporate cereal and livestock production. The revenue service of the Kingdom of Spain, known as the Agencia Tributaria (Tax Agency), is also called Hacienda.
An hórreo is a typical granary from the northwest of the Iberian Peninsula, built in wood or stone, raised from the ground by pillars (pegollos in Asturian, esteos in Galician, espigueiros in Portuguese, abearriak in Basque) ending in flat staddle stones (vira-ratos in Galician, mueles or tornarratos in Asturian, or zubiluzea in Basque) to keep rodents out. Ventilation is allowed by ranuras — slits in its walls. There are two main types of hórreo, rectangular-shaped and square-shaped. The oldest still standing dates from the 15th century. The longest 35-meter long hórreo is located in Carnota, A Coruña, Galicia. The Hórreo majestuoso (Majestic granary) in the 1st picture is a caserón built over barn stones that acts as a luxury hotel. Other similar granary structures include Asturian paneras (basically, big hórreos with more than four pillars), cabaceiras (Galician round basketwork hórreo), trojes or trojs in Castile or silos. In Asturias hórreos are known as horriu, horru; Leon and Cantabria: hurriu; Galicia: hórreo, paneira, canastro, piorno, cabazo; Portugal: espigueiro, canastro, caniço, hôrreo; País Vasco: garea, garaia, garaixea; French Savoy: regard; Swiss Valais: raccard; the Italian Aosta Valley: rascard; Norway: stabbur; Sweden: härbre, stolphärbre or stolpbod; in the Balkans: hambars (хамбари); Northern Turkey: serender; Southern England: barns on staddle stones.
A loft can refer to a desván (see above) or a gallery with large space and few divisions, which have large windows, and a very bright environment.
Mansión (residencia, parada, albergue or palacete) is a sumptuous and luxurious mansion-style home of great proportions, large gardens and various amenities. Those are exclusive homes of heirs and multimillionaire entrepreneurs. Manor comes from the same root—territorial holdings granted to a lord who would “remain” there.
Masía, masada, or pardina in Aragonese is at least two-story farmhouse throughout eastern Spain and southern France that has its origins in ancient Roman villas. The estate is called a mas — a traditional type of farm, including land, agricultural buildings and residence buildings. Masias are isolated constructions with defensive towers or exterior walls that are for the most part oriented to the south. In the Valencian Community, masias are dotted with miramar — a tower raised on the roof ofthe house that was used to contemplate the sea, and frequently the upper part was enabled as a palomar (dovecote) for the development of colombiculture in case of the need to be able to give notice of possible hostile attacks. Many masias have been adapted for rural tourism and hospitality.
A palacio is a building used as the residence of the head of state or another tycoon, and more recently is also applied to large private houses in cities, especially of the aristocracy. In the Old European Regime, palaces were the royal residences, those of the nobility, the high clergy, and the wealthy bourgeoisie. In the Contemporary Age, many palaces have been transformed to parliaments, hotels, office buildings, and museums. The term is also commonly used to refer to especially luxurious public buildings that function as urban landmarks, public entertainment or exhibitions. The word is derived from the Latin name palātium, for Palatine Hill in Rome which housed the Imperial residences. Most European languages have a version of the term: palais, palazzo, palacio, etc.
The primitive recreational villas in the Iberian Peninsula are called quintas de recreo (quinta means the fifth part of something). Usually located in the facilities on rustic estates developed by aristocratic families or the Spanish monarchs, since the late 19th centuries quintas are country houses used for vacation or retirement purposes. Quintas differ from fincas as those are erected on delimited land, be it in urban or rural areas. A quinta is usually surrounded by shallow plantations, small parks, and agricultural holdings. An example of such a building is the Quinta del Duque del Arco, also known as Quinta de El Pardo, in Madrid. In some cases quintas become of public use and you may visit the Quinta de Torre Arias Park in the San Blas-Canillejas district of Madrid. The park occupies the grounds of an old farm and is well worth visiting.
Vivienda de Protección Oficial (VPO)
Vivienda de Protección Oficial (VPO, Vivienda con Protección Pública o Vivienda Protegida) is an Official Protection Housing, a type of housing promoted by the Spanish public administration, normally offered at a price below that of the market. The objective of the VPO is to help citizens with lower incomes acquire or rent decent and adequate housing at prices that are affordable to their means. The different autonomous communities have legislated on this matter, so there is no uniform regime throughout the national territory. Access to buying, renting or selling such properties is controlled.
|Author||Mares P. W.|
|Date||August 8, 2021|
|Topic||Education, Spanish language, Language learning, Spanish culture|
|Reading Level||College Graduate|