GUIDE TO BUYING PROPERTY IN SPAIN
FIRST THING FIRST
Recent Spanish legislation makes it compulsory for anyone selling or buying property in Spain to have a NIE Número de Identidad de Extranjeros which, translated, means “Identity Number for Foreigners”.
This document can be obtained at the local police station, you need to apply for it in person.
Instructing a lawyer
Choosing the right lawyer is a very important part of the buying process, and bear in mind that you could well be dealing with the same lawyer for some time to come, and they will probably end up acting on your behalf if you should sell the property. As in so many things, the best way to find someone good is a recommendation.
Paying a holding deposit
Once you have made your decision and your lawyer is happy with the terms and conditions of anything you are asked to sign, it is time to pay a holding deposit. This deposit is usually €3000 on smaller properties and €6000 on larger properties, and is usually held by the estate agent, in order to take the property off the market until the private contract is signed. These deposits are often paid “subject to mortgage” until a certain date. This means that buyers are given a certain amount of time to arrange the finance, and will not lose their deposit if the finance is not granted.
It is common practice for the buyer and seller to confirm the details of the purchase in a private contract, with the buyer putting down a non-refundable deposit of 10% of the purchase price. The private purchase contract should identify the property and the seller and buyer. It should state that the property is sold free of all charges, liens and mortgages, and define a date by which time the parties must complete. . Before signing, your lawyer should check to make sure that no back taxes are owed on the property and that its original registration is in order.
This allows the buyer sufficient time to arrange payment of the balance. The deposit is to be paid into your lawyer’s client account, where it will stay until the sale is finalized.
The notary public. This is the final stage in buying a Spanish property. Both parties must attend the notary on or before the date stipulated by the private contract, at which time the balance of the purchase price is paid, and a new title deed is prepared and signed by the notary. Mortgages will also require a separate deed, and outstanding mortgages must also be cancelled at this point. Once the deeds are signed they will be then submitted to the land registry for registration.
Power of Attorney
If you are not likely to be in Spain to sign the contract or conclude the purchase, a general power of attorney is frequently used to appoint a legal representative in Spain. The document is in a standard format that lists the actions that can be carried out by the holder, including buying and selling property. A Notary can prepare the relevant forms and will print copies for you, retaining the original document in his offices. You will need copies authorised by the Notary to use the power of attorney at a bank or during a property sale. The only document required to establish power of attorney is a national identity document or passport of both the ‘giver’ and receiver’.