Buyer's guide. The most important steps you should take when buying a property in Spain - RMoreno Lawyers

Buyer’s guide. The most important steps you should take when buying a property in Spain

Here we explain the most important steps you should take when buying a property in Spain. Our highly experienced real estate professionals offer their skilled advice to ensure that you know exactly what to expect at each stage. 


As you are no doubt aware, the Internet is by far the best tool for searching for properties. But once you have seen a few desirable properties, what should you do? You may not be personally familiar with local real estate agencies, so how do you know won to trust? 

Through the Internet, close friends or lawyers seed out a qualified, experienced agency with a large direct inventory of the kind of property you’re looking for. 

Marbella has several such agencies with outstanding credentials, experiences, excellent product and área knowledge, and who adhere strictly to agents’ code of ethics. Where an agency website does not clearly indentify the owner of the agency or their credentials, the should not be trusted. 


When you’re purchasing a property in Spain, you should always retain a qualified solicitor to represent you in all transactions, who will also advise you on tax issues. It¡s a good idea to engage the services of a lawyer while in Marbella, even before you choose a property to buy, in case you start negotiating a purchase after returning to your country of residence. 


Your agent and your lawyer can assist you in obtaining your NIE (identity number issued to foreigners in Spain), and opening a Spanish bank account, as well as providing the necessary AML (Anti Money Laundering) documents without which one cannot buy property today. If you accomplish these steps before you buy your position as a buyer will be strengthened when negotiating, as you can put down an immediate deposit if an offer is accepted. 


A good agent can help you to negotiate the purchase of a property you’re interested in. Remember that if your offer is too low, it probably won’t engage the interest of the seller, and might actually prove counter-productive. To get an initial offer right you need to understand current market values and recent sales. This is where an experienced real estate agent can be of great help. 

Make your offer in writing if posible (subject contract, of course). As well as the Price, you should also include the deposit amount and when you wish to pay it, when you would like the complete the transaction, what is included in the Price (for example furniture and fittings, if applicable), plus an important but oft-neglected point- that all technical equipment and installations should be in normal working order. 


First of all, you need to consult the Property Registry to check if the seller owns the property free of liens and encumbrances. 

Your agent has the obligation to hold a registry extract and can go through this document with you. Then a reservation contract is often drawn up to ‘’seal the deal’’ where all the details of the purchase, including the legal description of the property, purchase price, form of payment, date of completion, inventory of ítems sold with the property, etc. Upon signing, a deposit usually of €10,000 to €25,000 is paid to the clients account of the agent, allowing your lawyer time to perform due diligence and prepare a private contract, whole the vendor is committed and your deposit protected. The private contract includes the comercial terms already agreed and payment on account of the purchase price, usually of 10% of the price, is made. 

New off-plan properties which are unfinished are paid for during the construction period, and according to Law 38/1999, all payments on account before finishing must be guaranteed by a bank or insurance company. Additionally, the property developer must arrange a ten-year insurance policy with respect  to any basic building defects, with the purchasers as beneficiaries. 


The total oficial costs involved in purchasing a residential property should be around 10-11% for resale properties, and include stamp duty on a sliding scale from 8% to 10% plus notary and registry fees. For newly built properties bought from a property developer, or a profesional dedicated to buying and selling properties, 10% VAT is applied plus 1,5% stamp duty, plus notary and registry fees, totaling in the area of 12%. Unbuilt plots bought from a developer bare 21% VAT. Lawyers fees range anywhere from 0,75 to 1,5% depending on the complexity of the transaction. 

When the entire purchase price has been paid, the seller will issue the escritura  (public deed of conveyance) to the purchaser in the presence of a Spanish notary. 

The deed is then passed to the tax office to be asessed for the stamp duty if you are buying a resale property. If you are paying VAT, the amount paid to the seller at the notary will be increased by the VAT and there are 30 days top ay the 1,5% stamp duty. The deed is then inscribed in the land registry, where it will already have been provisionally inscribed since the day of your purchase. 

ITP (Transfer Tax) Payable by the buyer for the purchase of any real estate, provided the vendor is not a developer or normally trading in the business of resale properties (waiver to VAT exemption) 
Reduces transfer tax for real estate companies or professionals that buy resale property and sell within 5 years.
Scaled at: 
8%, 9%, 10 %

IVA (VAT) and ADJ (Stamp duty) Villas, apartments or a garage that is annexed to an apartment or villa, where the vendor is a developer, promoter or habitual trader for Brand-new properties. 10% + 1,5%
IVA (VAT) and AJD (stamp duty) Parcels of land and Brand-no commercial premises where the vendor is a developer, promoter or habitual trader for brander-new properties. 21% + 1,5%
Notary and Property  Registry Fees Varies according  to the complexity of the title deed and value of the property Around 3000€
Plusvalia(municipal added value tax) For resale properties, this is base don the increase in the property’s index value between the previous purchase and the present sale. This tax is paid by the vendor, unless otherwhise negotiated. Variable
Lawyer’s Fees These are in the order of 1% of the selling price,  more or less, depending on the lawyer and the price of the property. 1% (plus IVA(VAT)