One of the main concerns that people have when buying property in Spain is ‘how can we make sure that this Spanish property is problem-free?’. Of course, this anxiety isn’t exclusive to Spain.
Buying a house is a very big commitment and no matter how carefully you check and where you buy, there can still be issues that you might not have spotted. Until you actually live in the house, you are unlikely to be sure that everything is to your liking. Compromise is usually a big factor in finding a house to suit you.
These uncertainties aside, there are some basic checks that you should carry out on Spanish property before you buy. Some are down to you. Others we would expect a good solicitor to make on your behalf prior to the purchase. Even though you don’t do these yourself you should be aware of what they are and check that your lawyer has done them for you, just in case.
Knowing how to buy property in Spain is your first step in ensuring a happy future in your new Spanish home.
Keep within budget
No matter how blown away you’ve been with the property you’ve seen it is foolhardy to stretch yourself further than you can really afford. You will not only have the cost of the house in Spain to budget for but also additional taxes, the cost of the notary, licences to apply for and transfer costs such as the service of a solicitor.
After you have bought your Spanish property there are likely to be some further basic expenses including furnishing, installing security, changing locks or making good any immediate repairs that you have noted.
You will also need to consider the running costs. If you have taken out a mortgage in Spain , then you will obviously have a monthly payment to make. Remember though there will also be:
- Utility bills – electricity, water, refuse and possibly gas
- Community fees, if you are a member of a community
- Spanish non-resident income tax
- IBI property tax
- Insurance premiums
It can be a real problem if you do not factor these additional costs into your initial planning.
You might also make the decision to employ a fiscal representative to help share the responsibility for these payments over the course of the year. They should have years of experience and be able to advise you about how to buy property in Spain.
Check the energy efficiency certificate
Every home in Spain that is sold must now have an Energy Efficiency Certificate (Certificado de Eficiencia Engergética). The new law officially came into effect from June 1st 2013. There have been a few teething problems and registration of those certified has taken time in some autonomous communities.
You should expect there to be an EPC in place for the house you wish to buy. The EPC contains an energy rating for your Spanish property according to a scale. ‘A’ is the highest level of efficiency and ‘G’ the lowest. The rating takes into account the level of consumption of electricity, water and gas.
Responsibility for organising an EPC rests with the seller or the builder in the case of a new property. You should ask to see the original certificate when you are viewing a property. Spanish estate agents must also clearly show the allocated energy label when advertising the property. An EPC can be signed by a qualified technician who has the authorisation to do this.
Ask about the community of owners
The community of owners (comunidad de proprietarios) is the legal body responsible for controlling and maintaining spaces and facilities that are shared by owners. This might include gardens, communal pools, lighting, drains, stairways, lifts and entrance halls.
You should check on how much your contribution to the community will be and also how it is run. Community of owners do vary in their level of organisation and success. You shouldn’t necessarily let it change your mind about a property if yours has some problems, however, you would be advised to be aware before hand.
Check the physical conditions of the property
This is common practice in most European countries and surprisingly many holiday home purchasers do not carry one out. As a simple rule of thumb, whatever procedures you would put into place in your home country you should do in Spain too.
You can pay for a survey of your property to make sure that there are no defects that could cause serious problems in the future. This is part of our Ábaco property assessment.
Find the right legal representative
If you are happy with the property and the checks so far, then you might want to go to the next stage and involve a good solicitor in Spain who will make sure that your interests are represented throughout the buying process.
Your representative will need to check that:
- The seller of the property is the legal owner
- There are no debts held against the property or any other problems that could affect the sale
- The property has the necessary licences and authorisations
You should be aware that before you sign the Title Deed in Spain you sign a private contract between the buyer and the seller. It isn’t logged on the official registry but in law it is considered to be legally binding. It is important that you have a check done on the property and the contract itself before you sign.
The vast majority of sales in Spain are problem-free. The majority of people do their research into how to buy property in Spain and have bought here without a hitch. But things can go wrong and making sure that you don’t rush into your investment but proceed wisely is the best advice we can give.
Information used in the writing of this article comes from our handbook ‘Buying a property in Spain’.