Solicitor Raymundo Larraín Nesbitt takes us step-by-step through the legal procedure to buy property in Spain from a private vendor, also known as For Sale By Owner (FSBO).
By Raymundo Larraín Nesbitt
Director of Larraín Nesbitt Lawyers
21st of February 2017
Photo credit: Spanish Property Insight
The purpose of this article is to provide a general overview on the full legal procedure when you buy resale property from a private individual. I leave for another article the procedure to buy property from developers (known as off-plan or new-build property).
The following article provides a sweeping outline on the procedure. If you are looking for concrete advice on a given matter, I highly advise you read my listed articles below which focus on specifics. Just scroll down the page to the bottom section which headline is “Related articles.”
I have simplified the procedure on purpose for ease of comprehension. If you are looking for more detail, I advise reading my article How to Buy Property in Spain Safely which gives an in-depth account of the full buying procedure.
If you are buying rural property, make sure you hire a lawyer before you sign any document! Be advised rural property is a minefield in Spain.
It is strongly advised you read this article in tandem with my article Buying Resale Property in Spain.
After making enquiries and looking around for a resale property you may have taken a liking to one. Properties are normally listed by real estate agencies. The real estate agency that has the property listed in its books will prod you to sign what is known as a reservation contract (or holding deposit) which strikes the property off the market for a pre-agreed period of time; normally spanning 30 days.
The deposit normally amounts from €3,000 to €6,000 depending on the property. The deposit contract is a succinct document that is normally only one page long. It has very few details, amongst them the property and seller´s details and the asking price.
Before the 30 days are up you will be expected to sign what is known as a Private Purchase Contract (or PPC for short). In Spanish, this is known as Contrato Privado de Compraventa. The PPC will be a long legal contract which will list the buyer and seller´s personal details, a full property description, the agreed sales price, the buying terms and the time frame to complete before a Notary Public.
Your lawyer will have normally already supplied you with a report on title so you are perfectly aware of the legal situation of the property you want to buy before signing the private agreement.
Normally on signing a PPC you are expected to make a down payment equivalent to 10% of the purchase price which will be deducted upon completion (stage three). This amount of money is non-refundable. If you need a mortgage loan to complete on the property, it is highly advisable you negotiate a reasonable time frame to secure it i.e. 45 to 60 days. This is particularly true if the borrower is non-resident. A borrower requires an Offer in Principle (or Agreement in Principle) from his lender known as Oferta Vinculante in Spanish.
If movables are being sold along the property it is highly advisable an inventory is added to the PPC. This inventory should be drawn up in great detail to avoid misunderstandings. This inventory will likewise be added to the Title Deed at the Notary Public on completion. It is regarded as a contractual element which binds both parties. If the seller does not include something from within, it will be regarded as a breach of contract. The inventory is normally drafted by the estate agency.
Completion is the term used to sign the Title Deed which is witnessed by a Notary Public. Additionally, if mortgage finance is required a second deed is signed called a Mortgage Deed.
You should read carefully through the deeds before you sign anything. This is particularly true of a Mortgage Deed. Your lawyer should ensure you do not sign abusive mortgage clauses.
At completion, you take legal possession of the property which is symbolized by being handed over the house keys.
At completion, you may be surprised to find a great number of people:
Your lawyer will file and pay the buyer´s taxes and lodge under your name at the Land Registry your new Spanish property.
Congratulations, you are now the official owner of a Spanish property. Enjoy!
You should open a Spanish bank account if you haven’t done so already. Utility companies do not accept overseas payments so you should set at least all the following as a direct debit against your Spanish account:
As a rule of thumb purchase costs add 10 – 15% over and above the purchase price. In some regions of Spain, particularly in Valencia, this figure may be higher. Please take thorough legal advice to budget your purchase before you commit. You can read my article Taxes on Buying Spanish Property for more details.
Besides paying taxes (explained below), a buyer is bound to pay the following fees:
Hiring a seasoned lawyer, in my experience, pays for itself on all the money you stand to save on avoiding the most common pitfalls on buying a property in Spain.
Make sure you are assisted on your house-hunting by reputable experts (such as a long-established real estate agency, a reliable mortgage broker or a seasoned lawyer) to benefit most from the wide range of available bargains – you will be spoilt for choice.
It is important you avoid being pressurized into completing; take your time to fully assess the information you are being given and do not hesitate to ask any questions.
Because impartial legal advice is priceless.
“Buy land, they’re not making it anymore.” – Mark Twain.
American writer, entrepreneur, publisher and lecturer. Among his novels are The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and its sequel, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.
Also published at Spanish Property Insight: Buying Property in Spain from a Private Seller (Resale Property).
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