As one of Marbella’s leading real estate, development, reformation and rental companies, we make our business to be up to speed on the latest developments in all legal matters pertaining to buying, selling and renting Spanish property, and the many procedures involved when relocating to Spain.
In order to dispel any confusion, we have forged links with the appropriate authorities and independent legal experts to bring you up to the minute advice and details of new law or amendments to existing codes of practice. In this instance we have spoken to Marbella based lawyer Diana Zuurling to provide you with a succinct yet comprehensive guide to entering the Spanish property market.
We have summarised her advice, some of which may seem obvious, but you’d be surprised how common sense can be put aside when you’re feeling overwhelmed when making one of the most important financial decisions of your life and faced with dealing with officialdom in a foreign language.
Choose the right agent
You need someone who knows the area, the type of property and is up to date with market conditions, but most important there must be good communication, trust and the ability to guide you through the preliminary negotiations.
Choose the right lawyer
You need a lawyer based in Spain who has the necessary knowledge to ensure that all legal requirements are met and it’s also the most cost effective solution. Your lawyer will check that the property is free of liens, charges and debts and that all community charges and taxes are up to date. Again, you need someone who can communicate with the appropriate authorities in Spanish and with you if you don’t speak the local lingo.
Reserving a property
It’s important to understand that once you’ve found the right property and pay a small deposit – between 3,000€ and 12,000€ - to take it off the market by signing a reservation agreement, you must continue with the contract or lose your deposit. Time can quite often be of the essence, so it is advisable to pay by credit card or bank transfer, as you may lose out if you have to wait 14 days for a foreign bank check to clear.
Around two weeks after reserving the property, during which time your lawyer should have carried out all the necessary searches and sorted out any outstanding debts with the vendor, both parties (or representatives) will need to sign the purchase contract and pay 10 to 50 per cent of the purchase price. Your lawyer will help make the funds available through a Spanish bank account (Zuurling’s client get preferential deals with some banks) or you can use your lawyer’s escrow account.
Completion and contract exchange
The deal is finally done when both parties sign the escritura de compreventa in the presence of a public notary. At this time the balance of payment will be made and the purchaser will take ownership of the property. The procedure is slightly different when it comes to new property, as quite often it can take another 12 months before it is actually built and should be addressed separately.
The final step is for the Notary to fax a copy of the title deed to the land registry. Your lawyer will deal with the transfer taxes, the registration formalities (the process can take several months) and if necessary arrange for the utilities to be connected in your name.
Diana, is registered to practice law in both her home country Germany and Spain, she has in-depth knowledge of property law in Spain and speaks fluent English, Spanish, German and Dutch. She provides a complete legal, tax and management service for Spanish citizens and international clients.
Watch out for our upcoming posts covering buying a new development property and the cost of purchasing property in Spain.