Spain Explained

Buying bargains with confidence in Spain

It’s a very tempting time to buy in Spain. House prices are at a record low and vendors are falling over themselves to sell their property in Spain. It’s not surprising therefore that so many are grasping the opportunity to make their dreams of a home in the sun a reality.

According to the latest figures the number of house sales to foreigners has risen from 4.24% of overall sales in 2009 to 8.12% in 2012. Out of a total of 24,938 purchases by foreigners, 1,163 (4.66%) were bought by Swedes and 1,429 (5.73%) by Norwegians.

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However good the market might be from the buyer’s point of view, it is important that you make sure that all the correct steps are taken when purchasing property in Spain. It can be tempting in the rush to secure your new home to cut corners. People will take risks and behave impulsively in a way they wouldn’t if it was a property purchase in their own country.

There are a number of checks that need to be carried out in order to be sure that the property you wish to purchase really is the good buy it seems. These can be divided into three types:

  • Legal status of the property
  • Utilities and taxes check
  • Legal status of home improvements

Legal status of the property

You need to be sure that the property you wish to buy is totally legal. If not, it can cause difficulties for anyone who buys or inherits it. It is important that the buying process includes:

  • A check of the contract to make sure that your interests are taken care of
  • A search (nota simple) of land registry records to check:
    • Who the official owners are
    • If there are debts held against the property
    • If the property conflicts with local planning laws
    • The construction history of the property
  • Request a certificate from the Catastral Registry to:
    • Check that the m2 on the Title Deed is correct for the property
    • Obtain the Catastral reference
    • Obtain the Catastral plan in order to see whether additional building work has been registered or not
  • Compare the details on the two registries with the Title Deed to make sure that they are consistent
  • Check that the first occupation licence/ habitation certificate is in place or second occupation licence if the property is a resale
  • Establish whether the property has an Energy Performance Certificate or still requires one

Utilities and taxes check

If there are outstanding payments on utilities the debts must be settled before services can be reconnected or transferred into your name. Outstanding taxes must be paid before you can take ownership of the property. Therefore it is important that a check is made of:

  • Electricity
  • Water
  • Community fees
  • Refuse collection
  • Council tax
  • Plusvalía tax

Legal status of home improvements

People sometimes forget that permission must be given for renovations and home improvements in Spain. Even relatively minor works require agreement from the town hall. If the property is part of a community they should have given their consent too. If alterations have not been recorded on the Title Deed, this can cause problems at the point of sale and if undetected could be an issue for you in the future. Any anomalies should be sorted out now.

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Your solicitor should check against documentation:

  • The number of rooms
  • The number of floors
  • If there is a basement and if it is used as living accommodation
  • If any additional buildings have been added
  • If there is a swimming pool or additional barbecue area
  • If there are any other visible home improvements
  • If terraces, porches or balconies have been closed in
  • If the outside appearance is the same as other apartments in the same building

This might look like a formidable list of things to do. However, omitting any one of these can cause trouble and prevent you enjoying your new home in the future.

Please call us, without obligation, if you would like our team of lawyers to check that everything is in order before you buy your property.

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2 comments

BenitaDonkin

7 October, 2019 11:40 am

I have seen properties for sale in Spain to swap with a property in the U K is this legal and if so what are the costs
of such a transaction ? Is it legal?

Oscar Paoli

7 October, 2019 12:15 pm

Hello,
Yes, this is possible and is called “permuta”, but you should be aware of the legal implications and possible pitfalls and strongly recommend having an independt legal advisor that can assist you in the matter.
Kind regards,
Ábaco Advisers