The property buying process in Spain

Posted on 15 March 2017

With spring well and truly sprung and the clocks set to go forward at the end of the month, anyone whose been planning their Spanish property purchase over the winter period will be ready to set the wheels in motion. You may have your budget sorted, know which Costa you want to call home and been out on a tentative viewing trip, but how do you actually go about buying a property in Spain?

Assemble a team of experts

First and foremost you should assemble a team of property professionals in advance of your purchase. A lawyer should be at the top of your hit list. One that is independent of the estate agent or developer whose property you are viewing, and qualified in urbanismo – Spanish land law. The next two names on your team sheet should be a surveyor local to your chosen area, and a currency specialist who could save you money when the time comes to transfer the funds to pay for your property.

But don’t just choose anyone. Search online property listings sites or overseas property magazines, and conduct a little research to ensure they are reputable operators.

If you’re ready to begin your overseas property buying journey, discover how to buy in Spain by downloading a FREE guide from the Spain property guide.

Reservation agreement

Having found your ideal property in the Spanish sun, your agent will request that you sign a reservation agreement. This will ensure the property is taken off the market at your agreed price. You will be expected to pay between €3,000 – €10,000 depending on the price of the property, which will secure the agreement for 30 days. The funds will be held in an escrow account by the agent or lawyers appointed by the agent.

It is advisable to consult your lawyer during this process, who will be able discuss the finer points with you. For example, you will need to examine the terms of the agreement to establish whether or not the deposit is refundable if you pull out at this early stage.

What next?

Having signed the reservation agreement several things should happen over the next couple of weeks:

  • Your lawyer will ensure the seller has the right to sell
  • Your lawyer will ensure there are no debts on the property
  • Your lawyer will ensure the property has planning permission

Contrato de arras

Once all of the above has been verified the agent will ask you to sign the contrato de arras – the full private purchase contract. A binding contract that requires you to pay between 10 to 20% of the purchase price. If you pull out at this stage you will lose your deposit. However, if the seller pulls out they must compensate you double the amount.

 Public Notary

The next step in the process sees the introduction of the Public Notary (Notario) – a civil servant – not a lawyer – who oversees the transfer. Both seller and buyer, or their representatives, will be required to attend the notary’s office and sign the Escritura de Compraventa. Having done so the purchase is formally completed when the final payment is made and relevant taxes paid.

All that’s left is the final registration of the title deed, which is unlikely to be completed before you move into your new home.


Total buying costs will be in the region of 8% to 14% of the purchase price, which includes a transfer tax of up to 10%. For new build property the buyer must also pay VAT of 10%.

Please note: Buying property overseas is far from a straightforward process and this is only a brief introductory guide. Therefore, it is strongly advisable to get specialist legal advice.

For more about living in Spain, visit Spain Property Guides where you can download your FREE Spain Buying Guide

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