This is a brief guide to purchasing property in Spain. We will be pleased to answer
any questions you may have, and would also advise strongly that you use an independent Spanish lawyer who will guide
you through the purchase process and ensure that all matters are in order. We can accompany you and introduce you to an English-speaking lawyer at the appropriate time. If you use a solicitor in England, he will not have the local and specific knowledge required and will need to appoint a Spanish lawyer, which will result in the payment of two sets of fees.
The first step after deciding to purchase your property is to make a verbal offer to the vendor, which we will carry out for you. When a verbal price has been agreed, the Spanish lawyer is appointed to commence formalising the agreement.
The lawyer, who will be fluent in English, will carry out the necessary checks on the property, and once he is satisfied that everything is in order, will complete the legal requirements to formalise the sale.
The first, and most important, check that the lawyer will make is to obtain a "Nota Simple" from the Property Registry. This will identify the registered owner of the property, and will provide details of any mortgages or charges on the property.
When a new property is being purchased, the solicitor will ask to see the "Declaracion de Obra Nueva" and the "Declaracion de Alteracion de Bienes Naturaleza Urbana", which are declarations required for new builds.
Receipts need to be obtained from the vendor for payment of IBI (Impuestos sobre Bienes Inmuebles), which is the annual real estate tax. These will show the assessed value of the property, which is called "Valor Catastral". It is on this assessed value that your property income tax will be based.
If property is being purchased in a communal environment, it is advisable to have sight of receipts for community charges, and also to see minutes of recent community meetings, to identify any problems. A talk with the neighbours can also be very helpful.
After the price is agreed and the "Nota Simple" has been obtained and checked by the solicitor, it is advisable to pay a small holding deposit, which will be held by the solicitor. This will ensure that the property is reserved until completion is made. A formal offer and agreement for this purpose will be made by the lawyer.
Approximately two weeks after this formal acceptance of an offer, exchange of private contracts, or the signing of an option to buy on a new property, will take place. By this time, the searches will have been completed by the lawyer. All the agreed terms will be included in the contract and a completion date will be set. At this point, the purchaser is normally required to pay a 10% deposit, which is non-refundable.
On the assigned completion date, vendor and purchaser (or their authorised representatives) sign the "Escritura de Compraventa" (the title deed) at the notary's office. The deed states that the property passes from vendor to purchaser free of any charges or mortgages and free of tenants. The terms of the deed are not checked by the notary, as his obligation is merely to certify that the parties have agreed the terms. The balance of payment is made to finalise the passing of title and possession passes to the buyer.
Your lawyer will advise you of fees and taxes payable, which should be paid promptly, and register your title deed at the Property Registry.