As soon as you decide to start the buying process in Spain it is always recommended that a Spanish speaking Lawyer acts on your behalf. Regardless of the cost it can often be the case that they will save you a lot of money and heartache in the long run. The first thing they should do is consult the Land Register, which details the property and records all financial charges made against it or any other matters that effect the title. Additionally, building permits and planning permissions should be in order and newly completed buildings must have a 'certificate of new work' (Obra Nueva) and a license for the first occupation (Cedula). Most importantly, they need to verify that that the property belongs to the vendor and / or that they have the legal authority to sell it!
Signing of a purchase contract
The Contrato de Compra-Venta is the contract made between the purchaser and the vendor and sets the terms under which the property will be purchased. The contract should contain details of:
- The agreed purchase price
- Payment of a deposit
- Intended date for completion together with all other relevant terms and conditions
- A declaration that the purchaser and vendor are legally allowed to buy or sell the property.
As soon as you sign the contract you will have to pay a deposit of around 10%. Sometimes an agreement called and 'Arras' can be entered into the contract, by which either party can back out, under certain conditions. After this has been signed, all the information will be passed onto the local notary (El Notario), who will undertake his/her own search of the Land Register and prepare the conveyance. It is recommended that before you get to this stage you have arranged how and when to bring you deposit funds over from the UK, consulting with a Currency Broker is adviseable
When Buying an "Off-Plan" Property
When buying off plan much of the process is similar, although there are a few differences you need to be aware of. Payment for your property will be made in stages. As part of the property buying process, you will most likely pay a deposit and sign the contract to secure the plot and then make additional payments at key stages of the build. The contract should contain the timetable for the property's completion, stage payment dates, the completion date and penalties for non-completion, guarantees for building work, details of the builder's insurance policy.
One of the things to be aware of is that even though you make stage payments, the developer has full ownership until the property is finished. This can sometimes cause complications when applying for a mortgage. However, as buying off plan is still relatively common and most Spanish Banks are happy to pre-approve mortgages and provide some kind of bridging finance to help with the payments if needs be.
The final act of sale is the signing of the deed of sale, which takes place in the notary's office. Before the deed of sale is signed, the notary checks that all the conditions contained in the contract have been fulfiled. On signing the Escritura, the purchaser will be required to pay the balance of the purchase price.
After the deed is signed, the original is lodged at the property registry office by the notary and the new owner's name is entered on the registry deed.
You now legally own your Property!