Spain Explained

How long does it take to buy a house in Spain?

Last updated on November 2nd, 2022 at 05:13 pm.

You’ve seen the house of your dreams, made your offer and it’s been accepted. It should all be plain sailing from here? Not necessarily.

So much depends upon the owner’s paperwork management and if they’ve kept up with their taxes. So, how long does it take to buy a house in Spain? And what can you do to speed up the process, safely? Let’s explore it in this article!  

Once you’ve found your perfect property then it’s understandable that you want everything to run smoothly and take possession of the keys as soon as you can.

You may be familiar with the buying process in your home country and have a good idea of what to expect but buying property elsewhere is an unknown.

Of course, every experience is different and there is no hard and fast rule as to how long it takes to buy a house in Spain. However, we’ll try to give you an approximate idea to help you with your planning.

How long does it take to buy a house in Spain? – With a fair wind

If everything goes to plan, everyone is available when they need to be and the paperwork is in order then we estimate that buying a house in Spain will take in total, between six weeks to three months. That’s from finding your property to completion.

If you also need a mortgage then this will add time to the process as the bank will need to value the property and receive approval from the head office to go ahead. This is likely to take more or less a month but can take place simultaneously to other parts of the process.

Once the private contract has been signed then the time until final completion varies according to the level of complexity. Let’s see how:

  • From 3 to 4 weeks – where everything is straightforward, and finance is already in place
  • From 4 to 8 weeks – for slightly more complex purchases
  • Over 8 weeks where there are problems

Also, we encourage everyone with plans to sell their property to make sure paperwork is in order prior to putting it on the market. You don’t want to secure a buyer and then lose them again due to delays.

Factors that can make it longer

There are some factors that longer the process of purchasing a house in Spain, we show you the most common ones:

Factor 1: Buyer and seller live abroad

One contributory factor to a longer purchasing process is if the buyer and seller live abroad. This can make it difficult to synchronise when it comes to signing documentation.

The best solution is if they are prepared to give those representing them power of attorney.

Power of attorney can be limited to this one purchase activity and can significantly speed up the time it takes to buy the property. The agents can complete the process as and when ready rather than waiting for a convenient time when the owners and purchasers can make themselves available.

Factor 2: Incomplete documentation

Another hurdle that we often come across is incomplete documentation. This includes the failure of the owner to have updated records when home improvements have been made.

Rectifying any omissions can take time and also depends on the speed of local government departments.

Factor 3: Incomplete inheritance settlement

An incomplete inheritance settlement can also slow things down. Once a property is empty, relatives can quickly put it on the market without realizing that the probate process needs to be completed and a new escritura of herencia in place before it can be sold.

This also requires that any inheritance tax has also been paid and all bills are up-to-date.

Factor 4: Local region and town hall

An additional factor that can make a difference to how long it takes to buy a property in Spain is your local region and town hall.

They do vary in their promptness, but what’s most important is that you have taken the right steps and haven’t resorted to shortcuts to move through your purchase at a faster rate but in a less secure manner.

Be ready

What will significantly speed up the process is if both you and the seller have your paperwork in place and ready to go.

As a purchaser you need:

  • Passport
  • NIE (numero de identificación extranjeros- foreigners identification number)
  • Funds ready to transfer

The seller will need to have in place:

  • The title deed of the property
  • A licence of first occupation (new property)
  • The last utility bills
  • The energy efficiency document
  • The last rates bill
  • Their own fiscal identification

What are the first steps?

In the very earliest stages you will want your representative to have completed a search on your property to establish if there are any impediments that could delay or even rule out the purchase.

You will need to be sure that the property does belong to the person who claims to be its owner and that there are no outstanding debts held against it.

With this confirmed and documents in place then an initial reservation contract can be signed, and at this point it is usual to pay a deposit to secure your rights to the property.

If you have applied for a mortgage then the banks approval will be needed and this will depend upon your financial status and their estimate of the value of the property.

Signed and sealed

You’ve got your paperwork in place and ready to go and you have signed the reservation contract.

What can you expect now in terms of the different stages of the property buying process?

The final date for completion will have been included in your reservation contract and the signing itself will be done at the notary’s office. At this point, the final amount is paid, and the keys are exchanged.

Prior to exchanging large amounts of money, particularly if you are transferring it from abroad – you should look into the rates of exchange and checkout the benefits of using a currency exchange service.

There are several to choose from and you  might ask your fiscal representative for recommendations.

Once the final contract is signed, registration of the change of ownership must now be done to finalise and register your ownership.

However, this is an administrative activity that does not prevent you from moving into your new property and beginning to make it your own.

Your Spanish property is an important investment from which we hope you get a huge amount of pleasure and long-term enjoyment.

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