Buying in Spain

The 10 Rules For Buying Property In Spain

Rules

If you have decided that you want to buy a property in Spain, you need to find as much information as possible to make the move as smooth as you can. When you buy property, you do not want to run into any surprises or additional costs. Fortunately, there are 10 rules that you need to know and use when you are buying property in Spain.

The Role Of The Real Estate Agent

In Spain, the estate agent’s job is to introduce a potential buyer to a seller. Once you have seen the property and are interested in buying it, you do not work through the agent. You will need to speak to an independent lawyer about the purchase and this must be done before you agree on the sale price.

Why You Need A Lawyer To Represent You In The Purchase

When working with an estate agent, they may not tell you that you need to work with a lawyer to buy property in Spain. This will be true if you are Spanish and know how to make all the needed enquiries yourself. As a non-Spanish national, you will generally not have the linguistic skills or an understanding of Spanish business culture and practices which are very different to the UK. You would never think about buying a property in the UK without talking to a solicitor, so you should not do that in Spain.

Choosing The Lawyer For Your Spanish Purchase

When choosing a lawyer to represent you, you should look at their direct experience with Spanish property purchases. The fees should also not be extortionate, but you should never hire the cheapest lawyer that you find. You do not have to choose a lawyer who operates close to where the property is located as long as they have experience handling property purchases in the area.

Clarify The Total Costs Of The Purchase

You need to clarify the total costs of all transactions at the start. This will include the Notary fees, the purchase tax, the lawyer fees, the property registration fees and any additional expenses. Your lawyer should be able to advise you on these costs and you should not rely on the information from the estate agent. They are acting in the best interest of the sellers and not you.

Third-Party Funding For The Purchase

If you are going to be using third-party funding for the purchase, you need to be careful. You should not contemplate agreeing to a purchase until you are certain that you will be able to get the funding to cover the costs.

When You Pay A Deposit On The Property In Spain

You should not pay anything to the seller or the seller’s agent until you are completely sure that you are going to purchase the property. This means that your lawyer should have completed all of the proper enquiries and reported back to you about this. This will mean that you have to pay the lawyer a bit before you secure the property, but you will be in a much better position for the purchase when you do this. You can also delay the negotiation of the price until you have all of the results from your lawyer.

Getting A Surveyor For The Property Purchase

It is important to note that the property you want to buy needs to be surveyed by a professional who has the correct experience and qualifications. This is a very sensible thing to do, but you might find that some Spanish estate agents discourage this. Spanish people generally do not instruct surveyors to create a report unless there is an obvious problem with the property such as walls that are not straight or big cracks. However, you should still do this, but you need to know what to expect from the report that you get.

Find Out How The Development Is Run

If you are going to be buying a property with common areas such as pools and gardens, you need to ensure that your lawyer has the minutes of the last meeting of the Community of Property Owners. This will help you determine the extent the owners are actually paying the service charge for the development. You should not look at buying an apartment or house in a development where your service charge could be raised to compensate for other people not paying.

Find Out What The Annual Expenses Are Of Owning A Property In Spain

You need to know what the annual expenses of owning the property will be. This will include the property tax, the service charges, the non-resident income tax, water, gas and the wealth tax if applicable. You should not assume that all of the costs are going to be manageable and you need to ensure that you know what they are before you commit to the sale.

Ensure That You Know What Is Going On

If you have gone through everything with the sale and you are still not sure about certain points, you need to ask your lawyer to explain it to you. You should not assume anything and you have to fully understand everything. Once you have completed the purchase it will be too late for you to start asking about the points that you did not understand going in. If your lawyer is not able to explain everything to you, you might not want to use them.

 

Where To Buy Property In Spain

 

The lure of sea, sun and sand is always intoxicating, but beachfront properties tend to be quite expensive compared to properties inland. Interestingly, a 20-minute drive away from the coast should reveal plenty of apartments or houses with much better value and more outdoor space. These properties could be in small towns or villages, or in urbanised areas built to cater for foreigners and locals. Urbanisations or seaside complexes have community charges, so do apartment blocks. It is, therefore, advisable that you take a look at the terms and fees before committing to buy a property.

 

All along the Spanish coast are villas of different sizes and styles. In the North Eastern part of Spain, beachfront properties are still quite expensive despite a fall in property prices. Real estate here is mostly consisted of second homes, with most being used during summer months by their owners who often live in cities like Barcelona, Amsterdam, Frankfurt, Paris, London, and such. Apartments that are not used for up to 6 months of the year are usually aired by being thrown open to the sun and wind most weekends, especially around Easter. However, most are occupied by the first few weeks of summer. These homes are often rented to tourists as a way to get extra money to cater for mortgage and maintenance costs.

It is advisable to remember that property owners are now required by law to apply for licences to let their properties, which are sometimes, not approved. Therefore, consider asking your lawyer to follow up with your local town hall to find out if there are any policies that govern the letting of property to tourists.
An estate agent in Los Cristianos once told me that many people purchase properties only to find out later that the property is not qualified for holiday lettings so it is vital to check these things before making a purchase.

In Barcelona, the city council, or the Generalitat, oversees the letting of property to tourists and is currently seeking to crack down on all illegally let properties following noise complaints by some of the locals. The council is also seeking to limit the number of properties let within certain areas of Barcelona.

If you’ve retired and are thinking of relocating to Spain, consider thinking of the facilities that you want near your property. While it is fun to buy a property on the side of a cliff with a beautiful view, however, it’s highly likely that such a home will have many steps to climb and will obviously be some distance from any shop. Considering all this, you’ll probably need a car to drive to the nearest amenities when you need anything. The same goes for apartments in small coastal towns where most of the shops close down when winter sets in. Larger coastal resorts tend to stay open throughout the year.

Not everyone loves the beachcomber’s lifestyle. Most people are attracted to the simple inland villages and towns steeped in history, and surrounded by vineyards. There are several urbanisations in Spain’s countryside, but there are also standard village houses made of either stone or white-coated Andalucia. Village properties tend to be cheaper than those in big towns unless the village is near or is a tourist attraction like Pals (Catalunya) or Mijas (Andalucia). However, some of these properties will require some renovation, and the maintenance and running costs tend to be quite high. Such properties are still quite popular, especially if the village has one or two bars, chemist, or shops since most of the things you’d need are within walking distance. Life in such areas is usually laid back and slow-paced.

If you are coming to Spain as an Expat, chances are you’ll be living in one of the country’s major cities or towns. If that’s the case, renting is the best option, well until you learn more about the area, found a school for your children, and have had time to shop for an excellent property to purchase. Rentals in Spain are quite expensive, especially around major centres like Barcelona and Madrid where in certain districts, the prices are starting to rise after the recession.

In recent days, there’s been a trend amongst older expats where they are selling beachfront apartments and villas and moving into the nearest towns so they can be closer to some of the amenities they need like shops, restaurants and bars to ease commuting. These villas and apartments are being bought by younger expats willing to on second homes away from their busy town lives. Statistics show that there is a shift towards homes near markets and shops. For instance, the newly opened Barcelona-Paris train route is already having a positive effect on property sales within reach of Figueres, Girona and Barcelona some of the stops on Spain’s side with the French border.

And let us not forget Spain’s mountainous regions. Winter sports like skiing are widely enjoyed here, as is bird-watching and hiking during summer months. The Pyrenees mountain ranges, the Sistema Central, Cordillera Cantabrica, Cordillera Subbetica, and the Sierra Morena offer attractive properties, with most being rentals. Homes around smarter, better-known resorts are predictably more expensive; however, there are plenty of little villages and towns that offer good value for money. If you ‘re contemplating buying a property in the areas, our advice is that you visit the region during both summer and winter that way, you won’t be surprised when it starts snowing and the roads get blocked.

Spain has plenty of great choices when it comes to property types and locations. As such, it shouldn’t be that hard to find a property that suits you and your family. It is just a matter of thinking about what you need, its proximity to shops or a town, the overheads and whether you don’t mind driving to the nearest amenities. Happy house hunting!

Before making a decision on where to go searching, take the time to think about the location you’d like to live and why. Here are some of the things to consider:

  • Do you have an idea of the area you’d prefer to buy property in Spain? Mallorca, Costa Brava, Costa del Sol?
  • Would you like living in the countryside, in a city, or on the coast?
  • Would you like to live in a residential development or in a tourist development?
  • How close to local amenities like shops and bars do you want to be?
  • Are there enough medical facilities and chemists around where you are considering?
  • Are there any essential amenities like schools and gyms nearby?
  • Do you need access to public transport?

Take a look at this Spain property blog to get more in-depth insight about the market.