Buying a Property in Spain - 10 Essential Tips

By: Martine Cherry

1) You will need a Spanish bank account to purchase a property in Spain. If you buy through a they should introduce you to a reputable bank and help you open a bank account – if you can do this on your inspection trip it will save time and hassle later on.

2) Don’t forget to add 10% to the purchase price advertised by an agent or developer. This is not agent commission or builder’s charge but is made up of local government taxes and fees – including those paid to the Spanish Notary when you sign your deeds. If you are taking out a Spanish mortgage then instead budget for about 11-12% as the Notary and Land registry element of the fees will double.

3) Always use an independent solicitor. No matter how confident you are in the integrity of your agent and builder, an independent solicitor is essential. While your property may be fine you may need legal assistance due to a change in your own personal circumstances – cutting costs at this stage could cost you much more money further down the line. An independent solicitor will also ensure you receive Bank Guarantees from the builder for any payments you have made prior to completion (the builder is obliged to provide these under Spanish Law).

4) When you are choosing a property do not take the sun for granted – think about how much summer / winter sun your property will receive. Usually, buyers from the UK look for south / south west facing properties so they can enjoy all year round sun. However if you are intending to live in Spain you may prefer a property which is cooler in the summer months – consider your personal thermostats!

5) If buying off-plan ask whether the builder will be flexible with their internal design. Properties in Spain are often designed with a particular market in mind and may not reflect the popular Northern European desire for open plan living. Study the plans and you could find the removal of a kitchen wall turns an average room into a stunning living space. If you have a downstairs bedroom consider whether you will use that room or whether removing it will give you that extra large living room you’ve always desired.

6) When the property is part of a development and shares communal areas like gardens and swimming pools with other properties there will be a community fee to pay. On incomplete developments these fees may not have been set but your agent should be able to give you examples from other completed developments. Always enquire about these fees – on large resorts they may be higher than you expected and you need to include them in your budget.

7) You will be given an expected completion date – but timescales can sometimes change so if you are planning to move furniture or take a holiday in your new home it is wise to wait until a couple of months before completion before booking removers or flights.

8) Pick your lights before you move in. If your property is brand new it will be handed over to you without any light fittings – so don’t think you can pop over with a few light bulbs and get started. Ideally request a visit to the property before completion and make a note of every light fitting you will need to buy. Then go to the local lighting shop and choose your lights. You may have to pay a small additional fee for fitting but you can arrange to have all your lights fitted at once – saving a whole lot of hassle and a few dark nights.

9) Once you’ve signed for the property collect the keys and thoroughly inspect it internally and externally for any ‘snags’ - incomplete or damaged work. The details should be provided to the builder within 14 days of your deed signing and they should contact you once they have rectified the work. It is always prudent to provide your solicitor with a copy of your snagging list.

10) Finally, be prepared for your increasing popularity among family and friends. Don’t be surprised if old friends and distant relatives suddenly start sending you Christmas cards and remembering your birthday once news of your new purchase spreads. Of course it’s your choice whether you reciprocate with an invitation to Spain or enjoy your little piece of paradise on your own – either way - “Viva España!”

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