Buying Property in Spain – The Legal Process
Buying a property in your home country can be a complicated process and a daunting experience, which requires guidance and support from qualified professionals. But whilst the process is very much the same, the legal, financial and statutory government requirements behind purchasing a property differ vastly from country to country. That’s why it’s essential that you trust a qualified, registered firm such as GB Abogados to take care of your conveyancing for you. But what exactly does purchasing a property in Spain involve from a legal standpoint? Take a look at our concise summary of the process below.
Finding a Property
The first step in the property buying process is of course to choose a location you would like to live in and to find your future home. Whilst, of course, this is often an enjoyable and exciting part of the process, it is also a complex and crucial stage, as it’s important that you know exactly what it is you are looking for in order to find the perfect property which will suit your needs. That’s why we offer a conveyancing service – so that you have professional support to locate a property which is not only suitable for your needs but which complies with Spanish property law and represents a good long-term investment with no hidden difficulties.
It’s hard to imagine what living in a property in a new location might be like without having experienced it before – which is why local knowledge is also a key factor in the decision-making process. With lawyers based both here in the UK and in Spain, we’re able to offer this assistance with guidance on the areas chosen and how they may best serve you, depending on the reason for your property purchase.
Before beginning your search for a property, we recommend making a list of your non-negotiable elements (number of bedrooms, location factors such as beaches and schools, a pool, situated close to an airport). Take into account the nature of your property and your desired lifestyle. Are you retired? Would you like a quiet location? Is this an investment for domestic or holiday rental? Or are you looking to be close to a city, to start a life permanently in your chosen location? Whether you are single, married or have children, you will need to take into account the individual needs and desires of every member of your family in line with your budget and what is available in order to make the best choice. We can help with this, guiding you at every step of the way with our seasoned expertise and long-established experience in helping all kinds of buyers find (and settle in) their dream home.
Getting Started and Choosing Representation
Once you have chosen your desired property, you need expert advice in order to purchase it legally. To obtain complete peace of mind and in order to know that the transaction will be dealt with swiftly and comprehensively, you will need to employ a specialist law firm (such as ourselves) who have expert knowledge of Spanish land law or ‘urbanismo’. As these laws differ from conveyancing laws in the UK, it’s important that you do choose a company which understands Spanish property law inside-out. Of course, it is also useful if your lawyer is fluent in both Spanish and English so that they can communicate clearly with everyone involved in the process at each step of the way.
We will firstly carry out a number of essential legal investigations and checks – such as checking that the property is registered properly under the land registry, ensuring it is registered to the vendor shown, and ascertaining whether there are any issues with the property such as unpaid debts, current tenants (in Spain, the law tends to favour tenants which can be cumbersome for potential buyers) or outstanding insurance matters. We will also ascertain your financial status and make arrangements accordingly. For example, you may be buying the property outright, or perhaps will need a mortgage. Either way, we will ensure that financially you are covered and that any transactions are cleared to be conducted easily and legally. Tax must also be taken into account, along with other legal requirements which are imperative for those wishing to purchase a property in Spain, such as visas and tax registry.
What’s the Process?
Following on from the initial stages, there are several intermediate steps each containing complex processes which need to be undertaken. The sale needs to be agreed by all parties and appropriate documentation must be obtained and checked, such as the title deeds, boundary agreements, any mortgage arrangements, property surveying, tax requirements and the placement of a deposit to secure the house and take it off the market. Each step of the way, we use our legal expertise and local knowledge to ensure a seamless transition and to guarantee that no stone is left unturned right up until the last papers are signed.
The legal process is very similar administratively –speaking for each property of course, yet certain things do need to be taken into account which may require more specialised attention. For example, restrictive Coastal Laws passed in 1988 must be adhered to and it’s essential to check that the land the property is built upon is not land reserved for rural or agricultural purposes.
During the purchase we will also take into account the reason for your purchase. Is this a ‘buy to let’ or investment property? Or is it destined to become your family home? This may affect the type of mortgage applied for and of course rental proposals come with a fresh set of laws which must be understood and adhered to at the time of purchase and going forward.
The Final Steps
Once initial steps have been taken, checks have been conducted and the essential part of the process is completed, it’s time to finalise the purchase of your property. We obtain the essential documentation on your behalf which constitutes everything you will need going forward to prove the property is yours and to obtain insurance and protection against legal proceedings, disputes or any outstanding debts against the property. These include papers such as a Catastral Certificate, Land Registry Documents and where applicable a certificate signed by the President of the Community of Property Owners. Of course, during the process each and every one of these documents will be shown to you and explained in great detail – so that you not only receive them, but you are also aware of what they entail and represent should you need to present them in the future to any government or legal agencies.
Once the purchase is completed, you will now have the property registered in your name. Yet our guidance doesn’t disappear once the final paper is signed – you will also receive support regarding tax, utility payments and community fees along with anything else you feel you need help with following the completion of the sale and transfer of ownership.
Support with Disputes and Difficulties
Although by selecting a reliable, professional lawyer you do drastically minimise the risk of encountering difficulties and disputes, these do sometimes arise and in the event of any issues regarding the sale of a property or arising from the purchase of a property, it’s crucial that you have the right representation to ensure that conflict is resolved quickly and competently. Any disputes can, of course, be very stressful for everyone involved, which is why it’s key to have a lawyer who understands your situation completely and who is able to achieve resolution as swiftly as possible for you – with the best possible outcome. Most of the time, disputes (such as tenancy issues and difficulties with developers on land acquirement projects) can be resolved through mediation and negotiation – but court proceedings are sometimes necessary.
Having a unique insight spread over both the UK and Spain has allowed us to develop an in-depth understanding of the cultural differences and similarities which face ex-pats, as well as the legal ones. Moving to another country – or purchasing a property abroad for another reason – poses lots of challenges in addition to the obvious exciting prospects of acquiring a new lifestyle or expanded property portfolio. We can assist you with all areas of your purchase using our knowledge and experience, to ensure that the process runs smoothly but also that you are fully informed with additional advice which may not have been otherwise available to you before, during and after your completion.
You should always be able to obtain additional advice where needed from your property lawyer. At every step of the way, you can ask for clarification and reassurance as purchasing a property (especially in a foreign country with different laws and practices) can be confusing and stressful at times. We understand this, which is why we offer comprehensive support and consultancy to each and every one of our clients before, after and throughout the purchasing process.
Would you like further information on purchasing property in Spain? Please feel free to get in touch with us via our Contact page.