Buyers Guide

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The following information is supplied by the Foreign Office and the Embassy and Consular Offices in Spain . The document and its attached links to other websites are there as a general guide and Simply Andalucia can not vouch for the accuracy of any information contained therein, therefor we strongly advise that all prospective purchasers of Spanish property seek full legal and fiscal advice at all stages of their property purchase from a qualified Lawyer or Accountant.

Before you buy a property in Spain

The following information is suggested as practical advice which you may wish to take into account when contemplating purchasing property in Spain.

While the FCO hopes that this information is of benefit to our customers, please be aware that it is not intended to be the only guidance purchasers follow when considering making a purchase. In addition, the FCO makes no representation as to the quality or accuracy of the information which is available at the web addresses listed below, nor can the FCO accepts any responsibility for the content that is hosted on them. The FCO’s strong recommendation is that prospective purchasers of Spanish property seek independent legal and financial advice at all stages of their purchase when transacting in Spain.

If you are considering buying a property in Spain you should read the step-by-step guide on how to buy a home in Spain published by The Association of Property and Mercantile Registrars of Spain. You may also find it useful to look at the Residentes Europeos site by the Diputación de Alicante.

This site has information in English on:

  • the rights and duties of buyers
  • information you should obtain prior to making a purchase
  • what you must do before signing the contract
  • when and how you should pay for the property
  • useful contact details


Research

It is important to thoroughly research the area you are considering purchasing in, as well as companies you might use (developers, estate agents and lawyers).  You should look at a range of properties with different agents to compare prices and ensure that you do not end up paying over the odds.  It is also worth looking at online forums dedicated to Spanish property to learn from others experiences and ask questions.


Seek independent legal advice

  • Appoint a lawyer who is experienced in property conveyancing and fully independent of anyone else involved in the transaction e.g. the estate agent, vendor and developer.  Numerous property owners are now experiencing problems with their property because they did not seek independent legal advice and instead used lawyers and translators which were recommended by the estate agent/developer.
  • Do not sign any papers or hand over any money until you have taken independent legal advice.
  • Although the British Embassy cannot recommend a lawyer, we do have lists of English-speaking lawyers and qualified translators available on our website. See your local consulate pages for details.


Use an independent translator

If you do not have a good understanding of Spanish, make sure that you get all contracts and relevant documentation translated by an independent translator. You can find a list of accredited translators and interpreters in Spain on the Spanish Ministry for Foreign Affairs website.


 

Use a chartered surveyor

The Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) exists in Spain and there are between 30-40 residential chartered surveyors working across the peninsula and the islands.  Members of the RICS are qualified and experienced professionals offering independent and impartial advice. They can be identified by the letters after their name, MRICS or FRICS.

As members of the RICS:  

  • They are regulated by the RICS and adhere to a well-proven code of conduct.
  • Have Professional indemnity insurance
  • Understand your way of thinking, speak English and provide all reports in English.
  • Are familiar with the different legislation and practices of the country in question.
  • Maintain themselves up-to-date through RICS' Continuous Professional Development Regulations.
  • Provide independent, impartial advise

In their work, Residential Chartered Surveyors may cover the following aspects:

  • Property valuations
  • Building surveys
  • Homebuyers reports
  • Measurement of sites and premises
  • Assessing the impact of a development in terms of economic viability
  • Land and property agency
  • Project and construction management
  • Selling and buying properties and sites on behalf of clients
  • Advising clients on the purchase and sale of individual investments
  • Managing property portfolios
  • General property consultancy

You can find out more about RICS España and contact details of a chartered surveyor in your area on the RICS website or by contacting Eulalia Pensado, the Regional Manager for Spain and Portugal.

Spain - RICS España
Eulalia Pensado, Regional Manager Iberia
Luis Martin Guirado MRICS, Chairman
Tel + 351 21 397 8307
Email: ricsespana@rics.org


Bank guarantees

If you are buying a property off-plan or under construction, always insist on a bank guarantee (aval bancario) to cover your stage payments. Do not make any payments without a guarantee. Developers of off-plan properties are legally obliged under law 57/1968 to secure all deposits with a bank guarantee.

Learn more about bank guarantees before you buy.


Completion

Before you complete your property purchase you should make sure you have seen:

  • The Land Registry extract (nota simple), which lists the owner(s), and reveals if there are any debts and/or charges, such as a mortgage, attached to the property. Expatriate home owners and buyers can request a Land Registry extract (nota simple) in English from the Colegio de Registradores (College of Registrars). An extract, including the translation fee, costs €29 (plus VAT) and can be requested from the Colegio de Registradores website https://buyingahouse.registradores.org
  • Planning permission: you must ensure that when buying off-plan from a developer, the development has approval from both the local ayuntamiento (town hall) and the regional government. It is also worth going to the Urbanismo (Town Planning) department of the local town hall to have a look at the Plan General de Ordenación Urbana (Urban Plan) which will state whether or not the plot you wish to buy has any building restrictions, is in a green zone or includes a public pathway or similar
  • The paid-up receipt for the previous owner’s annual property tax (IBI).  It is also wise to get a certificate from the town hall proving that there are no unpaid rates from previous years

  • The Catastral certificate giving the exact boundaries and square metres of your land
  • The licence of first occupancy (licencia de primera occupación) which is issued by the town hall for new buildings and certifies that the property is habitable.  You will need this document to connect to electricity and water companies.  Developers cannot force you to complete without this licence
  • Receipt to prove all utility bills have been paid by the previous owner
  • Paid-up receipts for the annual fees of the Comunidad de Propietarios (Community of Property Owners), the bylaws governing the Community of owners (including fees)  and the minutes from the last AGM
  • A property survey: this is not obligatory but it is wise to get a chartered surveyor to check the property before you complete
  • If you are buying an off-plan property, confirm that the property has been certified as finished by a registered architect (Certificado de final de obras)
  • If you are buying off-plan, ensure that the developer/constructor has the necessary insurance to cover build defects.  This insurance should be included in the property manual (libro del edificio) that the developer gives you
  • The private contract – this contract is not obligatory but is usually signed between the buyer and the seller before the public deed is granted. You should make sure that you fully understand the contract  before you sign it and if you are not fluent in Spanish you should get it translated
  • The Escritura Publica (public deed) – it is important to check that there is an accurate description of the property in the deeds.

Coastal properties

If you are considering purchasing a coastal property you should contact the Demarcación de Costas in your region to get a certificate to certify that the property is not affected by the 1988 Ley de Costas (Coastal Law).

It is also possible to view the coastal boundaries for certain areas (though not all) online on the Environment Ministry’s website.