Buying Property in Spain

Buying Property in Spain? What to watch out for

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If you are planning on buying a property in Spain, here is what an expert lawyer will do in order to minimise risks, and what you need to watch out for.

Buying a property to let in Spain generates a 10% profit, and there is no doubt that the Spanish Real Estate market has been seen increasing over the last two years. However, a purchase also comes with risks, which is why hiring a good lawyer is crucial.

The purchase of a property involves different degrees of participation by various parties, and that’s why expert legal representation is particularly necessary in Spain.

We recommend that you look for conveyancing services that include the following:

  • Complete all necessary searches regarding the legal status of the property and the developer/vendor. This includes searches at the:
    • Land Registry, to check ownership, mortgages, encumbrances, embargoes…
    • Town Hall, to make sure that there is no infraction, order for demolitions or fine, and that the property has been built according to the urban regulation.
    • Coast law, particularly if the property is nearby the sea.
    • Cadastre, to check whether there are any buildings which have been built and do not appear on the Land Registry, for example, due to the lack of a building licence.
    • Debts with suppliers (water, energy…) or public institutions for the payment of taxes such as the IBI (property tax) or council tax.
  • Organise the best possible contract to protect your interest, making sure that the property is free from all charges and liabilities, occupants or tenants.
  • With off-plan purchases, an expert lawyer will check:
    • The building licences.
    • That the property has been built according to its licence.
    • That the property is delivered on time.
    • That the buyer receives a bank guarantee for each payment made.
    • That no abusive clauses exist.
    • That the property and the complex are offered according to the advertisement and conditions stated.
  • Draft of Power of Attorney for individuals abroad. This enables the lawyer to act on your behalf, without you needing to be present, which can save a lot of time and money.
  • Assist in the completion process and ensure the title deeds are registered in the appropriate Land Registry, Cadastro, Energy and Water Suppliers.
  • Obtain a NIE (Número de Identificación de Extranjeros), or foreigners identification number.

Buying a property in Spain: What to watch out for

When buying Spanish property, let’s give the basic “Buyer Beware” warning first. It goes like this: Believe Nothing, Check Everything!

If you listen from the vendor or the estate agent that everything is in order, please look for independent legal advice for peace of mind.

  • Even when there is not an outstanding mortgage, when you are told that it measures x square meters, measure yourselves or through your own surveyor.
  • When you hear saying the terrace, pool, storage, basement or bedroom is included in the deal, we recommend you to check the plans and double-check with your solicitor.
  • Any reputable seller will be perfectly happy to have his offers checked by an independent lawyer. Spoken words do not count. Only pieces of paper count when a property is for sale.

We all are aware of the presence of illegal urbanizations where unwary buyers end up having problems of unpaid taxes, unregistered title deeds, and difficulty in obtaining municipal services or building permission.

Some properties are sold to buyers where many corners will have been cut to save costs both on the buyer’s side (not using an independent solicitor), and the builder or seller side. You could find the following problems:

  • Lack of bank guarantee on stage payments (off-plan).
  • Title deed and Cadastre problems (non-registered deeds, different measures that do not match with real metres on the house and land, etc.).
  • Lack of project and license for the house.
  • Lack of 10 years structural insurance certificate.
  • Lack of licence of first occupation.
  • Undervalued title deeds.
  • Lack of bulletins (certification for electricians and plumbers).
  • Infrastructure problems.

Why do you need to employ an Independent Solicitor when purchasing a property in Spain?

We highly recommend you to employ an Independent Solicitor, who will be working only for you and look after your best interest.

  • The right time to employ your lawyer is before you commit yourself and pay any money out.
  • The tax implications are very important and it is good for you to be aware prior to signing any document
  • Whether you buy an apartment or a villa or just to buy off-plan property, do not forget to protect your money with the right and independent advice from your lawyer.

This is why you should trust independent solicitors who have your best interests at heart, working with a dedicated Real Estate Department, providing expertise in all legal aspects of the conveyancing process and issues related to contracts, rental contracts, mortgage floor rates, off-plan properties, buying properties through the courts, to name but a few.

Without the help of a lawyer, and all the work carried out in the background, buying a property in Spain can be very stressful and even more so, time consuming. For peace of mind, protect your money today with trusted independent advice from your lawyer.


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