Everyone wants to keep their costs down when buying property in Spain. It’s understandable that prospective Spanish property owners want to ensure that the buying process takes as little from their hard-earned savings as possible. However, it’s a fine line between cutting your costs and risking that the transaction isn’t completed properly.
Too many Spanish home buyers have found to their cost that the savings they thought they’d made have left them vulnerable. For example, that the utility bills haven’t be transferred into the new name or that arrangements haven’t been made properly for tax to be paid. Unpaid taxes, such as Spanish IBI (council tax) can create problems for the future. Ultimately you might find that you not only have back tax to pay but fines and interest as well.
So what can you do to make sure that everything is properly in place for your new purchase? Using the right professionals is the answer. In this article we look in more detail at the roles of the estate agent and solicitor in Spain.
The estate agent in Spain
The estate agent in Spain may well be the first professional who you have contact with when purchasing your Spanish property. You should be aware that Spanish estate agents are not regulated by law in Spain. If the estate agent is a small enterprise they should be a member of a professional association such as Agente de Propiedad Immobiliaria (API) or Expertos Immobiliarios. You can ask to see the agent’s registration number and have it checked if you’re not sure.
Don’t let yourself be pressurised into buying a property. You should take your time and make sure you return and visit the property as often as you want to, perhaps at different times of the day and week. Reassure yourself that it really is the home you want.
In some cases the seller may have more than one estate agent dealing with their property. This is not unusual but do check that the different agents aren’t advertising the property at different prices. Obviously you will want to purchase at the lowest price if this is the case.
It is very important that the legalities are completed by a competent solicitor. You should have your own representative who is looking after your interests when the contract is exchanged. Choose a solicitor who you can communicate well with in your native language but who is also a specialist in Spanish property law, like Ábaco Advisers.
Don’t part with your deposit until you have had the draft contract checked. There have been cases that have come to light where an estate agent has taken a deposit without the seller even being aware of this.
Once you have engaged a solicitor they should make a thorough search of the Spanish land registry to make sure that everything is in order. They will check that all works or modifications are legal and that there are no debts held against it.
Your solicitor will check that the estate agent is properly authorised to act on behalf of the client. He/ she will ensure that the contract protects your rights and your money. They will prepare for the signing of the Title Deed, represent you at the Notaries and register the property with the Spanish Land Registry.
Making sure that you have engaged the right professionals who have your interests at heart is a vital part of the buying process. However anxious you might be to secure your bargain don’t allow emotion to run away with you. Make sure that the paper work is done and your home is securely yours.