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The buying process
Some of the things you need to consider when buying property in Spain
Prior to viewing
Prior to your arrival to Spain, make sure that you have sufficient funds at your disposal to cover the reservation sum. The absolute minimum that is required depends, normally between €3.000 and €6.000. This amount can rise depending the property's price. The reservation sum may be paid using a credit card or just cash. When you deposit a check from a foreign bank, it may take up to ten days before it can be cleared by a Spanish bank.
If you do not have the funds to lodge a reservation sum immediately, you may risk losing the property to another party who is willing to pay this sum. There are virtually no exchange controls in Spain which means that, whether you are a resident or not, you are free to obtain a loan or mortgage in any currency and from any bank in the world. Most of the time, Spanish banks are willing to lend funds to non-resident purchasers of Real Estate. Therefore, you will need:
- A photocopy of your income tax returns
- Last three months salary slips
- A bank reference
- A breakdown of assets and liabilities
- Last three months' bank statements
- If self-employed, statements of accounts
- Negotiating the purchase of a property
Once a suitable property has been chosen you will need to negotiate with the seller about the purchase terms and price. You could make the offer subject to getting your lawyer's approval, and let hem deal about the mortgage, final completion dates or the method of payment. It is possible that the salesman who found your property might be a bad negotiator. And it is important to negotiate about the terms of your purchase. Always ask if you may speak to the senior sales employee or sales manager of the company and discuss about the formation of the team and their negotation strategy. The employee may feel that bringing in a recommended laywer is the best way in the process, making sure that every offer meets the legal criteria.
Choosing a Lawyer
There are many excellent local lawyers in Spain who are fluent in your language. A lawyer will provide the legal guarantees for the purchase of the property according to the Spanish requirements. A lawyer makes sure that a property is bought free of encumbrances, charges, liens or debt and is up to date in all its payments of local contributions and community charges. The lawyer may also assist the sales team in difficult and complex negotiations with the owner. Using a lawyer from your home country will substantially increase your legal costs and almost certainly delay the sales process.
Formalizing the offer
Once the parties have come to a verbal accord, the next step is to formalize the offer terms of purchase in writing. Funds should be lodged in a local bank account or with your lawyer in order to show the seller that there is a real intention to purchase. In Spain it is standard to include a small amount when you are making an offer. Therefore, you reserve the rights to the property until all contract are exchanged.
Exchange of private contracts
When the offer is accepted by the owner, the next step in the sales process is to exchange the private contracts or to sign an option to purchase. This may take place within two weeks following the formal acceptance of the offer. Your lawyer will have completed his investigations by then. Next to that, following the acceptance, he discusses the procedures of any outstanding debts with the owner. The private contract of sale (or option) will reflect all the agreed terms of the offer and sale. A date for final completion at the notary is planned. At this stage it is customary practice to pay ten percent of the purchase price (which is non-refundable) should the purchaser not complete the purchase.
Final completion at the notary
A sale is formally completed in Spain when the public title deeds of purchase are signed before a notary. After the final payment has been made, the possession is given to the buyer, the new owner of the property.
Once signed, the notary will fax a note of the title deed to the local land registry. Your lawyer will also pay all the relevant transfer taxes associated with the purchase on your behalf and will handle the formalities of registration of your title deeds. Final registration of the deed may take up to two months. Similarly, your lawyer will arrange the transfers of accounts with the local suppliers of utility services, such as water and electricity.
Costs involved in purchasing a property
There are three fees and two taxes that you will have to pay when purchasing property in Spain. The total amount (these two combined) will be around 10% of the purchase price. Read more about the fees:
- Legal fees: a minimum of €600 or 1% of the purchase value, whichever is the greater. Plus value-added tax (I.V.A) which is currently charged at 16%.
- Notary fees: the scale is fixed by law and may range from €300 for lower priced properties to €841,40 for higher priced properties.
- Property Registry: about 60% of what the notary charges.
Transfer tax (ITP) at 6% or, when buying from a promoter, developer or habitual trades, IVA at 7% or 16% plus Stamp Duty at 1%. The IVA rate of 16% is applicable when purchasing parcels of land, commercial premises, or garage spaces.
Plusvalia normally payable by the vendor but it may be stipulated that the buyers pays. This amount depends. Who is responsible for these payment will be discussed with your lawyer.