Anyone purchasing a permanent or holiday home in Spain will require the services of a reputable law firm to complete the process.
The charge for these services is guided by the College of Lawyers and generally related to the value of the property in question.
Even beyond the purchase, however, it is a good idea to have a lawyer to consult, as being a property owner in Spain makes you subject to certain of the country’s rights and obligations. It is important to know what these are and it is in the role of informing and advising you that your lawyer can continue to provide a highly valuable service.
Finding a Property
A professional estate agent who knows the local market well will be ideally equipped to help you find the home that you have been looking for. Once found, the first step is to make an offer on the house through your estate agent. If accepted, you will have to pay a reservation fee to have it taken off the market whilst negotiations between the parties’ legal advisors are held.If your offer is accepted, a private agreement will be drawn up between your lawyer and that of the seller, in which the terms and conditions of the sale are stated. These will include, for example, the size and time span set for payment of the purchase price, description of the property (interior description, size, legal boundaries etc), distribution of the costs attached to the purchase, whether the home is sold furnished or not and possible penalties for breach of contract.
Making sure everything is in order
Possibly the most important task your lawyer will carry out in protecting your interests as the Buyer is to check that
- the Seller is indeed the owner of the property,
- what is being offered for sale conforms to the legal description of the property (for instance plot size, total meters build, access rights, etc) and
- there are no outstanding claims or debts that you might “inherit” as the new owner.
If the home passes this very important inspection, the next following steps are to formalise the purchase agreement, arrange the financing and set the date for transfer of ownership.
Please note that properties in Spain are free hold, not lease hold as in the UK.
Completing the purchase
Your law firm will prepare the documentation required for the transfer of ownership. On the appointed day buyer and purchaser, and/or their legal representatives, meet at the notary’s office to sign the official transfer of title deed from the Seller to the Buyer (“escritura”). The witnessing of the accompanying documentation by the notary acts as your legal safeguard that the change of ownership will be recorded in the official registry and completes the process, leaving you safe in the knowledge that your property purchase is official and free of encumbrances.