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Pitfalls & Mistakes To Avoid When Buying Property In Spain


During the last few years it has been possible to buy Spanish property at quite a reasonable price, so as to get good value for your money. However, when buying property abroad for the first time,  many things that can be taken for granted. Indeed, many buyers tend to assume that the process is similar to the one in their home country, which is in a fact, a big mistake. In this article we will try to summarise the most common pitfalls one has to face when buying property in beautiful Spain:

  1. Choosing the same lawyer as the seller of the property. If you both hire the same lawyer, this person will have a greater chance to make a profit on your purchase. Remember to look for a lawyer who represents your own interests and negotiates the best deal for you.
  2. Doing insufficient research about the house. Not only the area where the house is built, but also the licenses for building are of great importance when buying a house in Spain. Especially if you are thinking of buying in a rural area, there are many constraints to the size and location in which a house can be built. If the house was built ilegally, you may end up paying to comply with the current local legislation. We warmly recommend you to get a surveyor to check the current status of the building and get a certificate, as well as the available reports from the city hall or local authority.
  3. Assuming that the final price is the one you see on your contract. Bear in mind that buying a house emplies additional costs, such as paying property tax, registering the house in the Land Registry and covering the notary fees. Furthermore, there is a significant difference between the market value and the cadastral value of a property. The cadastral value (rateable value) is established by the local authority and is used to calculate the amount of tax to be payed on the house. If the rateable value happens to be higher than the market price, the tax burden will be higher.  It is essential to calculate this at the moment of the purchase. Otherwise, the tax authority can claim back the difference months after you have signed your contract, including a penalty.
  4. Engaging in endless renovations. Avoid properties that require big refurbishing works, especially if you don’t speak Spanish. Many small construction companies can be unreliable or may give you a false estimate of the works. We thereofre recommend to choose a building which needs little improvement. For any renovation works to be performed, sign an official contract.
  5. Not understanding your contract. Buying property is a big investment that generates a number of responsibilities. It is therefore of vital importance to have all terms checked by a professional lawyer.
  6. Postponing your NIE application. The NIE is your foreigner ID in Spain, which is absolutely necessary for buying a house and start with the legal conveyancing. Since this number isn’t issued automatically,  an early application will help you speed up the buying process. Besides, being faster gives you an advantage over other applicants.
  7. Trusting everything the real estate agent says. Real estate agents usually try to encourage a fast and emotional buying process. Therefore, we suggest trying different agents, to compare their different offers and analysing their behaviour. Check if there are big differences in the price of a square meter in the same area. Once you have all your paperwork ready, take your time to look into the details and negotiate the conditions of your contract.

Should you need further tips and advice for buying property in Spain, do get in touch with Legal & Tax Help. We are a n English-speaking law firm based in Malaga and Costa del Sol, specialised in property conveyancing, inheritance tax, residence for foreigners, self-employed tax declarations and most legal and financial aspects of relevance to foreigners and expats living in Spain.
For any questions and enquiries, don’t hesitate to contact us either by phone or e-mail. The information provided in this article is not intended to be legal advice, but merely conveys general information related to legal issues.

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