To guide potential buyers in Spain, especially in the Marbella area, we offer advice on the nuts and bolts of finding and buying the property that is right for you.
Buying property in Spain
THE BRIGHT GUIDE TO
BUYING PROPERTY IN MARBELLA
A STYLISH DESTINATION
The main reasons for buying abroad, we know from numerous reports, are for holidays and investment, and the top two reasons for choosing Spain are the weather and the way of life. The most desirable area on the entire Spanish coastline, and that with the most agreeable climate, is undoubtedly the Marbella area.
WHAT DOES MARBELLA HAVE THAT OTHER SPANISH RESORTS DON’T HAVE?
The answer is just about everything. Museums, art galleries, concert halls, cinemas, sporting and health facilities, hospitals, schools, shops, and…the list goes on and on. Best restaurants in southern Europe, great beaches, nature parks, adventure trails, places of historic and architectural interest. For both geographical and historic reasons, this part of southern Spain is very self-sufficient, and with its own cuisine and culture, it is a mere accident of history that the entire Andalusian region is not a country separate from the rest of Spain.
BUYING A PROPERTY STEP ONE:
FIND A LAWYER
Retaining a qualified lawyer is the most important step, because it helps prevent problems that might arise in the future. Not only will this person see you through the labyrinth of laws and regulations at local, regional and national levels, but also advise you on the question of taxation. They can also represent you when you are not in Spain – it’s essential to have someone that can start negotiating a purchase for you if you have returned to your country of residence.
FIND A REPUTABLE AGENT
The western Costa del Sol has numerous reputable agencies to choose from, many of whom have outstanding credentials and long experience in finding the right homes for the right people, and language skills or lack thereof will not be a problem. Once in the capable hands of a reputable agency, you can safely get through what psychologists call one of the most stressful periods in many peoples’ lives: buying a house. If the absence of stress were a commodity, its price would be an estate agent’s fee.
You’ll need a NIE number, issued to all foreigners residing in or buying property in Spain. For British and Irish purchasers, this is the nearest we’ll have to an identity document, although it is not this: you still have to carry your passport everywhere you go in Spain. It is a fiscal identity number, necessary for opening a bank account and dealing with bureaucracy and the tax authorities. Having all your documentation in order before starting speeds up the purchasing process. Both your lawyer and real estate agent will be able to advise you on this process.
SPANISH BANK ACCOUNT
Next, a bank account, and it is important to know about and comply with the AML (anti-money laundering) protocol, designed to identify you and prove the legal origin of the funds intended for purchase. As an EU citizen, it’s quick and easy, but takes a little longer, perhaps a few weeks, for non-EU purchasers. Again, your lawyer will guide you through this process.
NEGOTIATING THE PRICE
A good estate agent knows property values at any given moment, and will help you make an offer that will not be dismissed out of hand. Your offer will be made in writing, ensuring that all relevant issues are dealt with as a whole, rather than as additional points along the way. These issues include the exact deposit amount and when it will be paid, when the transaction will be completed, what exactly is included in the price (furniture, fittings, etc), and that all technical equipment and installations be in good working order. If negotiations get complicated, you may need to consult your lawyer, and he or she may actually take part in negotiations, if required.
SIGNING THE DOTTED LINE
Making the actual purchase is relatively easy. Before signing on the dotted line, property ownership is checked against the property register, which shows that the property in question is owned by the seller and is free of liens and encumbrances. A private contract of purchase is drawn up in the event that an immediate payment of full purchase price is not made, and this reflects the details of the purchase, from the property’s legal description and purchase price to form of payment, date of completion, date of possession and more. When such a contract is signed, a payment is made that varies with the terms of the sale and date of completion.
A normal deposit to close the sale within one to two months would be anything between 10% – 25% of the agreed purchase price. In the event of the property not being finished, payment is made over the construction period, and such payments on account must, by law, be guaranteed by a bank or insurance company. Money paid on a property unfinished by a pre-established date must be returned on demand, with all legal interests paid also. Again by law, the property developer is obliged to arrange a 10-year insurance policy covering possible basic construction defects, the beneficiaries being the purchasers.
DEED OF CONVEYANCE
As soon as the full purchase price is paid, the seller issues the Deed of Conveyance, known as the Escritura in Spanish, free of liens and encumbrances, witnessed by a Spanish Notary. The document is then passed to the tax office to be assessed for Transfer Tax in the case of a resale property, or assessed for Stamp Duty if the property is sold directly by a developer. It then goes to the Property Registry for inscription, a provisional inscription being made on the spot when the deeds are issued. The property is yours!
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