Where do you start? Who should you contact?
These are questions that are frequently asked by potential buyers, questions that are often not well answered. With this short guide of buying process, we would like to put you on the right road to a successful purchase.
The following information is intended to make you aware of the general procedure you will be expected to follow when purchasing in Spain.
WHERE AND WHAT TO BUY ON THE COSTA BRAVA?
Whether you need to make short trips because of work commitments, or are able to spend longer stays on the Costa Brava, then Girona Airport is ideally situated for both.
Do you need access to International schools or healthcare? is the temperature (can vary widely) important to you? What is your budget?
Apartment? Villa? Rustic property? What should you choose?
FIRST-TIME BUYERS IN SPAIN?
An apartment is a good place to start.
Villas and Rustic properties require far more maintenance than apartments, and you should perhaps consider a Villa or Rustic only if you intend to do longuer stays in Spain. A lock-up-and-leave apartment is far more practical for short trips.
WHO SHOULD I CONTACT?
If you are planning viewing trips you should already have in mind a lawyer to call on when you need to make decisions.
The next step is to find an Estate Agent to help you in your search. Estate Agents work very hard for you as a purchaser whilst charging you nothing at all they earn their fees generally from the seller.
Having found your home now the less exciting but most important part of the transaction begins, and below you will find a simple outline of the process which will be followed in the purchasing procedure.
Once you have identified a property which you wish to buy, you may be asked to leave a deposit, typically a 10% of the final price to reserve the property, when signing a Reservation Agreement.
We believe that you should not sign or pay anything until your lawyer has had an opportunity to check it all. You can be tied into a purchase which later you regret when searches etc. may have taken place and it may be difficult to recover any amount paid.
It is important that you are sure the funds will be available for the whole purchase price before proceeding to this stage, and in particular that your mortgage lender has made you an offer in principle.
It is also important that this contract is checked by your lawyer to make sure that all your rights and the vendor’s obligations are incorporated into it. Often what is missing from a contract is more important than what is included.
Your lawyer will check that the vendor is the true owner of the property, carry out a Land Registry search, ensure that the property has no debts or encumbrances (such as an un-paid mortgage) and that the building is legally registered.
The final payment is made at the time of taking possession of the property and this transaction is recorded in the Title Deed (Escritura de Compraventa) signed in a Public Notary. Afterwards it is duly presented to the Land Registry.
Many charges and debts incurred by the previous owner can be registered against the property if left unpaid and it is your lawyer’s job to ensure that you buy the property free of any encumbrance.
You should arrange insurance cover for the building and contents from completion but it is a mandatory requirement if you are obtaining a mortgage.
If you live on a community then the Community of Owners should ensure that the building is insured.
If you are buying in joint names you should consider whether you would have sufficient funds to complete the purchase if either of you died between exchange of contracts and completion. It is advisable to have sufficient life insurance cover in place following your commitment to purchase the property.
PAYMENT OF TAXES
The relevant taxes (VAT if a new property or Transfer Tax if a re-sale property) is paid at the Notary’s when you become the owner
After signing the Title Deed taxes which are generated by the transaction must be paid, and only then can the Deeds be delivered to the Land Registry for inscription.
This is probably the most important stage of the purchase and it is vital that the property be inscribed in your name at the earliest date to protect your interests.
Although not a legal requirement we would always recommend that you should have a Spanish Will for your property in Spain to deal with your Spanish assets.
Spanish inheritance law is complex and is different from English law.
If you have an existing valid British Will it can technically be used in Spain but it will be necessary to obtain a Grant of Probate which will be a lengthy and expensive process.