You’ve found your property, so what happens next? We can sometimes assume that the purchasing process in one country is the same as you will encounter elsewhere. However, this is not necessarily the case. Read these easy steps, and you will know what to expect from buying a property in Spain.
THE PROPERTY BUYING PROCESS
The reservation contract is generally the first legal document to be signed in the purchase process here in Spain. Once this contract is signed and the reservation deposit paid (usually 6000€) the vendor must take the property off the market and freeze the agreed purchase price. A reservation contract is used as a standard procedure to reserve a property for a specified period of time whilst your lawyer conducts the legal searches.
The reservation contract contains the following:
- Names of buyer and vendor
- NIE number of buyer (see step 2)
- Property address
- Offered price
- Amount of deposit
- Date to sign a private purchase contract (see step 3)
- Special conditions/subjects
- Time frame of payments and completion
All of the aforementioned points are open to negotiation and very much depend upon what the individual vendor/purchaser are prepared to agree to. It is of course normal for the vendor to want to receive the deposit as soon as possible. Depending on the urgency and level of interest in the property, there are two ways to pay the deposit. The first is to do so directly to the vendor, which sometimes can be necessary in order to secure a good deal, but we advice you to pay the deposit to your lawyers client account. In that way, you show commitment to the vendor, but don’t risk losing your deposit. The money will not be transferred before your lawyer has made sure, all legal aspects of the deal are in place. Therefore the reservation deposit is fully refundable in the event that your lawyer should discover any legal impediments pertaining to the said property. Should you continue with your purchase here after, the 6000€ will be used towards the purchase price.
The first requirement that starts the process of buying a property in Spain is to get your N.I.E. number. Your Número de Identificación de Extranjeros is what you will need to be registered with the Spanish Tax Authorities. It is an identification number and you can either apply for one personally by going to a Spanish police station, or through a power of attorney. The power of attorney in Spain (Poder Notarial) is a means of enabling the legal process to continue without the purchaser being there in person. It means that you can nominate someone you trust, typically your lawyer, to represent you in certain transactions. Once you have your representative and the power of attorney has been signed in front of a notary then you can proceed, whether you are able to be in Spain or not.
The power of attorney is easy and cheap to obtain, therefore very much recommended. Not everyone finds it convenient to spend time waiting for the lawyers to complete the necessary searches, checks and contracts. Perhaps particularly the case if you are buying a holiday home in Spain. Your time is precious and your ideal holiday does not consist of trailing to the solicitors and back.
A private contract between the buyer and the seller is signed before the official Title Deed. Although this contract isn’t logged on an official register it is considered to be legally binding in law. It is important that you don’t part with any money until you have had the draft contract scrutinized and you are confident that it protects your rights and your money. The solicitor you have appointed will do this for you.
When you sign the private contract you will pay a deposit of 10% unless another amount has been agreed. If you then change your mind, as a purchaser you will lose your deposit. If you are the vendor and break the contract then you pay twice the amount of deposit as compensation unless it is written differently in the contract. The private contract also includes agreement about who will pay the expenses surrounding the sale. In practice, purchasers pay everything except the plusvalía (The Capital Gains Tax) which the seller must pay by law.
The private purchase contract contains the following:
- A legal declaration from the vendor that he/she is legally positioned to sell the property
- The exact address and dimensions of the property and it’s features as set out in the government registration of the property
- The exact date of signing the Title Deed and hand over keys
- Standard purchase conditions and possibly other terms and conditions agreed between the buyer and the vendor
Once the necessary checks have been completed then the paper work will be prepared ready for signing. The Title Deed will need to be signed at the Notary. You have the right to choose the notary who you would like to authorise the signing of the Title Deed.
Signing the Title Deed includes:
- Checking the identity of the seller and buyer
- Checking the description of the property
- Highlighting any debts that are held against the property
- Checking that community fees have been paid
- Requesting proof of payment of the IBI (property tax) and informing officials of the change of ownership
- Informing those signing of their legal and fiscal obligations following the sale
- Explaining the sharing out of expenses between the two parties
- Managing payment, if it’s requested, of the different expenses that accompany the process
When you sign at the Notary’s office you will not be given the original Title Deed to your property but should receive an authorised version known as the Copia Simple. Once the Title Deed has been signed then the property will be registered at the Land Registry and the utility companies should be informed of the change of name.
Finally, the property is yours!
Did you know that Bargain Andalucia can help you find a competent multilingual lawyer who can assist you with buying property in Spain?
See the list of recommended solicitors here.