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Buying Process - 2


Viewing a property

First Steps

So you have found the property you want, what do you do now? If you haven't done so already, get a lawyer, as time is off the essence to pay a small down payment ('senal') to ensure the property is taken off the market. You should receive a legal document in return, from your lawyer and signed by the vendor. If you are gazumped double your down payment will be returned to you. This procedure is purely to buy you the time to find the full deposit, usually 10%, which you would pay in return for a private sales contract.

Getting a Lawyer

Almost 20% of foreigners buying Spanish property are doing it without using a lawyer. You certainly wouldn't do that in the UK, so it is even more important to make sure you have proper representation when purchasing abroad. Spain has it's own well-established property market, with strict rules and procedures in place for the buying and selling of property. It is vital that you seek professional advice at all stages of the process. When looking at legal advisors, there are two good options:

  • An independent English-speaking lawyer, based near to the location you are looking to purchase - their local knowledge may well save you money.
  • A firm of UK solicitors who have experience of dealing in the Spanish property market - with more Britons buying property abroad, there are plenty of firms who will be able to help.

Ask for a quote for the handling of the purchase and an approximate breakdown of the total costs involved.

Almost 20% of foreigners buying Spanish property are doing it without using a lawyer

All the normal legal checks need to be done - with the local town hall, with the Land Registry etc. Your lawyer will draw up an initial pre-sale contract, handle the payment of the customary 10% deposit and accompany you to the notary for the final exchange of contracts; if you are not based in Spain it could be worth giving your lawyer Power of Attorney to sign on your behalf. Most importantly, your lawyer will ensure that you end up with a property which is legally yours, which is what you thought it was and which doesn't come complete with a mountain of debts.

Legal Considerations

The Private Contract of purchase and sale (Contrato Privado de Compraventa) and payment of the 10% deposit is usually done within four weeks of placing your deposit. This contract sets out the terms and conditions of purchase and binds you to the purchase; if you have to pull out of the sale, for whatever reason, this deposit may not be refundable; if, however, the owner pulls out of the sale they have to pay you 20% of the asking price in compensation. Gazumping is not an issue in Spain!

For tax purposes the Spanish Authorities require non-residents to obtain a NIE Certificate (Foreign Identification Number). This can be obtained from the local police station.

Upon completion of the property sale and issue of all licences, the Sale and Conveyance Deed (Escritura de Compraventa) is signed by both parties, in the presence of a Notary, and payment made of all outstanding monies. You are now the owner of your own place in the sun.

Land Registry & Tenure

As in the UK, nearly all land in Spain is registered in a Land Registry. This will show who owns the land and whether there are any encumbrances on the title, such as mortgages, rights of way etc.

Tenure in Spain is, however, a little different. Land, houses, villas and apartments are all acquired freehold, which is known as 'Propiedad en Pleno Dominio' (ownership in full right). Leaseholds are not used for residential property. If you are buying an apartment, it is also in your interests to look at any rules and regulations applying to the development or block in which the apartment is situated; you may suddenly find yourself with an additional bill for repair or developmental costs.



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