However, you will probably find it different to the process in Britain. In this article, we offer a step-by- step guide to the procedure from start to finish.
Step 1 – Property Search
Obviously your first step is to find a property you’d like to buy. In most parts of Spain, it’s a buyer’s market at the moment so take your time before you decide and have a good look at what’s available. You may want to rent before you buy.
Step 2 – Hire an independent lawyer
When you find a property you’re interested in buying, you should hire an independent lawyer.
Ask around for recommendations and make sure the lawyer speaks your language well.
Choose an independent lawyer to represent your interests rather than a lawyer linked to the estate agent or representing the seller.
Step 3 – Get your NIE
You need a foreigner’s identity number (número de identificación de extranjero/ NIE).
This number identifies you to the Spanish authorities and is essential for transactions such as buying a property or car, opening a resident’s bank account and paying taxes.
To obtain your NIE, you should go to the nearest police station with a foreigners’ department if you’re in Spain. If you’re abroad, you can apply for a NIE at a Spanish consulate. You should take proof of your identity and the reason why you need a NIE. It takes about a week to obtain the number. Read more about getting a NIE here.
Step 4 – Legal checks
At the next step your lawyer takes over. They should make thorough legal checks on the property. This is probably the most important stage of the process because your lawyer determines the following:
- The legal status of the property – verifying the ownership and registration.
- The planning status of the property – checking the house has all planning permissions and licences in order.
- The financial status of the property – checking for encumbrances and charges on the property (e.g. unpaid mortgages or council rates bills etc.).
Step 5 – Purchase contract and deposit
After your lawyer has carried out the appropriate background checks on the property and is satisfied all is in order, they draw up a purchase contract. The contract describes the terms of purchase – price, date of purchase and any conditions agreed by both parties.
When both parties sign the contract, you hand over a deposit, usually 10 per cent of the purchase price, to the seller.
If your purchase includes contents (e.g. furniture, fixtures and fittings), an inventory accompanies the contract and both parties sign it.
Step 6 – Completion
The actual date of completion depends on what’s agreed in the purchase contract, but it generally takes place usually within a month of signing of the contract. Both parties go to a notary’s office to sign the deeds. The buyer pays the outstanding amount.
Before you sign the title deeds your lawyer will make sure that they are correct and if necessary, translate them for you. The notary checks the general details and the identity of the buyer and seller.
Once both parties are satisfied that the paperwork is in order, they sign the title deeds, the buyer pays the seller and receives the keys to the property.
You are now free to move into the property. Your lawyer will register the property in your name at the nearest Property Registry and take care of paying all taxes and fees.
Your lawyer should also set up direct debits at your bank account for payment of utility bills and taxes.