Thursday, 24th September 2020

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Buying property in Spain, some useful advice

Buying property in Spain, some useful advice

The legal aspect of buying a property in Spain

Buying a home in Spain without assistance can be a complicated and confusing process for those who are not familiar with the Spanish legal system, involving unfamiliar legal procedures and large sums of money.

There is also a significant amount of legal work involved to ensure that the transaction is made safely and in compliance with all legal and tax Spanish regulations. If you are planning to purchase a house, a plot of land or any kind of commercial property in Spain, the first move you should make is to contact a Spanish solicitor, an independent professional who will protect your interests and make the transaction trouble free. Do not part with any money or deposits until you have appointed your legal representative. Choosing your solicitor is very important and it is worth finding one whom you feel comfortable with, in respect of both service and price. Unless you know better, avoid solicitors recommended by the estate agent, mortgage broker or other party who may have an interest in the sale of the property. It is the best way to avoid any collusion that might exist.

Your house in Spain will probably be one of the largest financial commitments you will make and it is essential that a professional guides you step by step through the maze.

Before purchasing it is very relevant to know the complexities of the procedure and their importance:

    Requirements to be an owner of a property in Spain:

    • you must have a Fiscal Identification Number (NIE), which must be requested from the Police Authorities.
    • open a Bank Account with a Spanish Bank. It is needed to pay for all supplies to the property (water, electricity, telephone, community rates, etc).

    Taxes to be paid for the transaction:

    • VAT 7% and Stamp Duty 0,5% on the purchase price for new properties.
    • Transfer Tax 6% on the purchase price for second hand properties.
    • VAT 16%.
    • Stamp Duty 0,5% on the purchase price for Plots of Land and Commercial properties.
    • It can be the case that the purchaser agrees to pay the Plusvalia Tax, a Local Tax normally paid by the vendor.

    Taxes to be paid in the future for having the property:

    • IBI (rates)
    • Deed Income Tax
    • Wealth Tax.

    The main outlays and costs to be paid on the transaction:

    • Notary fees
    • Land Registry fees
    • Solicitor fees.
    • Community charges (if any).

For those of you that have not bought a property in Spain before, we present a Summary of the purchase process from a practical and legal point of view.


After you have decided on a property, a full set of information about the property must be obtained from the seller such as: Title Deeds, official number Land Registry Number, Local Tax receipts paid, water and electricity receipts, etc.).

There are a number of searches to be made in advance to ensure that you get a good title to the property. The first Golden Rule is to check the Land Registry files to ensure that there are no charges or encumbrances on the property and that there is a clear Title to the Deed. It is also important to establish whether or not there are any public works affecting the property (such as motorway schemes) and whether there are any planning restrictions.

If the property and Title are in order from a legal point of view, a private purchase contract can be signed. On exchange of contracts, the purchaser will be asked to pay a pre-agreed deposit (normally 10% of the price) and to agree a completion date.

On completion day, the Purchase Title Deed will be signed before a Notary Public and the balance of the full purchase price is paid. It is at this moment that Ownership is legally transferred to the purchaser.

After completion, it is important to deal with all the remaining paperwork as soon as possible, namely, payment of taxes (Stamp duty or Transfer tax) and to register the new owner of the property at the Land Registry. The whole process can takes up to two months and it completes with your receiving your deeds (Escritura) showing you officially as the new registered owner.

Following these few pieces of advice and ensuring professional guidance I am sure your property experience in Spain will be straightforward and hassle free. Good luck.


- Never sign anything until approved by your lawyer, documents signed in any language other than Spanish are not valid under Spanish Law.

- Allow some 8% to 9% for costs and taxes to be paid on completion (except Plusvalia).

- Do not make any payments to any agents.

- Check the declared value on the Escritura against the asking price.

- Make sure what fixtures and fittings are included in the price.

- Clarify who pays what taxes, especially the Plusvalia, the tax payable on the increased value since it was purchased by the vendor. It should be stressed that this tax is based on the increase in value of the land and not on any buildings erected upon it. The vendor is legally responsible for this, but anything goes as long as it is inserted in the signed contract.

- Have funds available, at least for the deposit, otherwise you will not be taken seriously.

- If the property is on an Urbanisation, that the Urbanisation is legal, registered and adopted by the Town Hall. Check if there are likely to be any future charges for improved infrastructure if the urbanisation is likely to be expanded,

- Respect the agreed completion date (usually one month after exchange of private contract), otherwise you may be in breech of agreement and you may lose the property, or your deposit or be subject to penalties.

- Make sure that the contract specifies clearly who pays for what and that it states that the property is purchases free from mortgages, embargoes liabilities, etc.

- Make sure that the I.B.I. has also been paid as well as all telephone, water and electric bills.

- Declared Value: It used to be common practise to grossly under declare the sale price in order to reduce transfer tax [usually 6%] or IVA on new properties [7%]and capital gain's taxes [up to35% for non resident owners]. Tax inspectors now make their own assessment based on market values. There are penalties for both the seller and especially the buyer that will be swiftly applied if it is considered the declared price is not the market value. Your abogado (solicitor) will advise you on what you should declare and if it is in your interest.

Under declaring a sale price will usually benefit the seller more than the purchaser, saving the seller up to a 20% or 35% tax on the undeclared amount, where as the purchaser may save 6% or 7% now [or possibly 16% on newly divided land], BUT, may end up paying 35% tax on the amount later! so bear this in mind when agreeing the value to be declared.
It is you, the buyer who will when you sell will have to pay Capital gains tax on he difference between the declared value when you purchased, and the declared value when you sell, of up to 35% if you are non resident or up to 20% if you are resident.

The amount of capital gains tax payable on the sale of a properties purchased now, and since 1995 reduces annually inline with inflation.

Good news if you are a resident and sell a property which is your principal residence in Spain, as long as you have owned it for at least 3 years, and all the capital is reinvested into a more expensive property, and the new property is also your principle residence in Spain, then any capital gained from the sale will not be taxed. [this is effectively a tax on property speculation]

See also - Selling you property in Spain

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