Buying a home in Spain

If you’re considering buying a home in Spain, there’ll be lots of things to think about – everything from the kind of property you’d like to the laws and regulations that apply to homebuying.

The transfer of the ownership rights to a Spanish property is always handled by a Spanish notary. The notary ensures that the transfer of ownership is executed correctly. The notary also produces the resulting certificate of ownership, known as the “Escritura Pública de Compraventa”.

The deal is concluded with a solemn, almost ceremonial meeting at the notary’s offices, where the purchaser and vendor sign a series of documents. The money and keys then change hands. But the road to this final handshake isn’t without its complications. This is what the process looks like from a purchaser’s perspective:

THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW

WISHLIST. It’s a good idea to start off by compiling a wish list of the things that are important to you in your future home. This could include the location, price, size, or, if you’re looking for an apartment, perhaps where in the building the apartment should ideally be located. Is it important to have a view, and what direction would you like the terrace to face? Do you want to be close to a beach, pool, airport, golf course or ski resort? Also, think about the condition you’d like your new home to be in. Would you be happy if it needed some renovation, or does it need to be ready to move into straightaway? Sort your wish list into order of importance and have a think about how realistic your goals are. What’s the most important factor?

LOCATION. Spend some time visiting the various towns and villages that may be of interest. Bjurfors Spain will be happy to help you find the right place based on your own criteria.

THE PROPERTY. In Spain, a property can be marketed on either an exclusive or a non-exclusive basis. A non-exclusive arrangement is when a vendor instructs several different agents to sell a property. This frequently results in the agent putting less effort into selling the property and a modest marketing budget, affecting aspects such as how the property is displayed, photos and descriptions. Properties are often priced by the vendors themselves, and so the prices of equivalent properties may vary widely. This may be due to a desire to sell quickly, or the vendor’s assessment of the market – which may or may not be realistic.

THE MARKET. There are various ways to go about finding your home. Online searches are the most common. Every estate agent has their own website, but there are also all kinds of different portals. Unfortunately there’s no one portal that shows all properties for sale. The property descriptions are often scantily worded, and it’s not uncommon to find a property being sold by different agents on the same portal – and sometimes at completely different prices. Lots of properties are still featured online even though a purchase may have been underway for several months. As a result, it can look as though there are more properties for sale than there actually are. Bjurfors Spain will be pleased to help you select some ideal properties based on your wish list.

CHOOSING AN ESTATE AGENT. Most estate agents in Spain will be dealing with several vendors at the same time. At the same time, they work with purchasers in a way that is unfamiliar to people outside Spain. In these cases, the agents accept instructions to purchase, which are frequently informal. Most agents collaborate with one another, with one representing the vendor and the other the purchaser. At Bjurfors Spain, our emphasis is on understanding what you want so that we can match you with your dream home. When a vendor has placed a sales contract with an agent, the property is placed on a shared database. This database can be viewed only by agents who are members of the MLS partnership organization. There are a number of MLS organizations, depending on the place of business. Bjurfors staff are always affiliated to the MLS organization in their respective locations. If a purchaser commissions us to search for properties, the first thing we do is access the database and look for appropriate properties. When a purchase is agreed, we share the commission with the agent making the sale. Buying in this way is no more expensive as the commission on the sale is shared by the agents. As a customer, this gives you access not only to the properties held by your agent, but to all the properties on the market.

VISIT. Open house viewings are very rare in Spain; viewings are generally individual. Sometimes agents don’t have the keys and the vendor is present instead. During an initial visit, the prospective buyer is often given very little information by our standards. You’re almost obliged to “pump” the agent for information. Bjurfors Spain provides you with all the information you need to help you buy your own property in Spain.

FINANCES. You won’t find a financial association at your property in Spain. There will be a property association and a chairman, but the association does not deal with finance. This means that the monthly charges paid to the association relate only to the running costs for the property and any shared facilities, they will not include contributions to repairs. That’s why it’s important that you instruct a surveyor to carry out an inspection of both the apartment and the building, so that you have a picture of any potential repairs that might be needed in the future. This will give you an idea of the costs that might arise and that will be divided among all the apartments at the property.

MARKET VALUE. Understanding market values in Spain is not always straightforward. The statistics aren’t as easily accessible or accurate as in other countries – you have to do your homework. Insist on getting as much information as possible from your agent. Bjurfors Spain has access to statistics that allow you to quickly get an idea of the value of a property. You can also use an independent valuation institute. A valuation of this kind is often required by the bank, and it is undertaken and paid for by the purchaser.

ACQUISITION COSTS. These costs, amounting to approx. 10 – 15% of the purchase price on existing properties, are paid by the purchaser. A small percentage goes to the notary, while the rest is tax payable to the municipality, province and state. Some goes towards the cost of the property, some covers charges on any loan facilities and there are fees for legal representation. The exact percentage depends on the selling price and the province in which the property is located. Bjurfors Spain can explain all this to you and give you an exact cost per property when the time comes.

AGENCY FEES. These fees are included in the sale price; in other words, the estate agent is contracted to sell at a certain price and with a certain level of commission. The agency fees are therefore paid by the vendor.

CHOOSING A NOTARY. The purchaser chooses a notary, often through a legal representative. Make sure you choose from the outset a competent, service-minded notary who communicates well with his customers. Naturally, Bjurfors Spain can make recommendations. The notary is also the person who registers credits, draws up wills, carries out estate distribution, etc., frequently together with your legal representative.