Basic steps before buying a property in Spain
Buying a property in Spain is not like buying a holiday souvenir! In fact, it should be taken with very great seriousness and you must know what to do before you even think of buying a property in Spain. Indeed, like most lawyers in Spain, I would strongly recommend that you see a lawyer in Spain before you start house hunting – that way you will know the process and any pitfalls long before you commit yourself…
However, if you do want to buy a property in Spain then there are some basic steps that you should take before signing or paying anything. The steps are as follows:
1. Obtain an updated search from the relevant Spanish Land Registry in order to verify that the owner is duly registered as such and that the property is not subject to any charges or damaging development schemes. This essential search will also show whether the official description of features, sizes and boundaries of your intended Spanish property match reality.
2. Obtain information about the prices of similar properties in the same area – so that you can compare prices to see whether what you are buying is priced fairly or not.
3. If the owner of your proposed property in Spain is a company, obtain a search from the Commercial Registry to find out if the company is solvent and then identify the person who can sign on behalf of the company.
4. If your intended Spanish property purchase has been recently built or if major improvements are intended, then check with the local Town Hall that the necessary permits have -or will – be granted.
5. Find out whether the owner has any pending debts concerning local taxes. If it is a condominium, find out whether there are any community charges unpaid.
6. Only pay a deposit to the registered owner who is selling the property, or a person who has a Power of Attorney to receive such a sum (never to any intermediary) and make sure that a signed and properly drawn document is obtained as evidence of such payment.
I would strongly stress that 6. above should only ever be undertaken once your own lawyer in Spain has reviewed all the documentation and any other documents or contracts to be signed in connection with your intended property purchase. Equally, unless you are fluent in Spanish and conversant with Spanish law then I would advise you to get your lawyer in Spain to investigate points 1. – 5.
If you want to know more about this then have a look at a book about buying property in Spain (for which I was the legal expert with regard to property law) or contact me directly for further information.