Property and Mortgages

Buying or selling a property is an exciting experience not without risk. These pitfalls can most easily be overcome by using a competent, independent and reliable lawyer to act on your behalf from the time your offer to buy or sell is accepted.

We act for clients throughout Spain in the purchase and sale of residential and off plan properties, rural retreats and plot sales as well as commercial units including:

  • Drafting contracts, powers of attorney and obtaining NIEs
  • Undertaking land registry searches and town hall enquiries
  • Advising on taxes and costs
  • Attendance before the Notary on completion and providing translation services
  • Paying taxes and registering title
  • Arranging utility service connection and providing ongoing services such as rental contracts and annual tax returns


Holding Deposits

Many of the questionable practices more akin to Timeshare are prevalent in the property market in Spain and once you have found the property to buy there is unlikely to be any “cooling off period” or chance to think things through. Instead you will be put under immediate pressure by the estate agent or by the seller to pay a sum of several thousand euros in cash or by credit card against a flimsy and often inadequate document described as a “reservation agreement“. Additionally they may seek to persuade you to take legal advice from a so called independent lawyer “pushed under your nose” by the intermediary.

The prudent buyer or seller will instruct a lawyer who comes recommended from an independent source or one you have found as a result of your own enquiries.

We can provide the independent legal advice you ought to take before you sign such a document and part with any money. Ideally we should be given time to undertake some basic enquires at the land registry and negotiate on the documents terms before any sum is paid.

Conveyancing Formalities

The purchase and sale of property in Spain always involves the intervention of a Notary who is a Public official whose duties include ensuring certain formalities required by Spanish law are complied with. The negotiation of contractual terms and the undertaking of detailed searches and enquiries into the property are matters dealt with by lawyers well before a brief and often incomprehensible (unless you speak fluent Spanish) appearance is made before the Notary to formalize matters.

Your time may be better spent and substantial accommodation and travel costs saved by granting us a Power of Attorney which we will arrange either in Spain or back in the UK to avoid dealing with frustrating notarial formalities.

Searches and Enquiries

A fairly sophisticated system of land registration operated by several hundred land registries throughout Spain control issues of title, mortgages and other encumbrances. A properly conducted search at the appropriate registry is a good start but further enquiries need to be made.

We can undertake enquiries at the town hall as regards planning issues, subsisting debts on the property and in the case of properties built in a complex the management company “la comunidad de propietarios” must be approached to ensure that no services charges remain outstanding. A personal visit by us with a Power of Attorney to the town hall is often the most effective way of dealing with the matter as telephone enquiries are rarely productive.

Negotiation and Drafting Contractual Terms

Unless it has been agreed to complete the transaction almost immediately before the Notary it is essential that a suitable contract is negotiated and drafted otherwise the contractual deposit (often 10% of the total price) is in jeopardy. There are no national standard conditions of sale in Spain nor established protocols which govern property transactions making the instruction of a competent independent and reliable lawyer essential.

We will draft a suitable contract based on the various forms of contract used in practice including option to purchase contracts, “Arras” and private purchase contracts any one of which may be most suitable to the transaction dependant on whether you are the buyer or seller.

Spanish Fiscal Identity Numbers (NIE)

Whether buying, selling or mortgaging a property in Spain obtaining an NIE certificate is now a prerequisite before the transaction is formalized before the Notary. This often will mean at least 2 visits to a Spanish police station and hours of queuing, a frustrating experience best avoided by granting Power of Attorney to us to allow us to deal with it.


Transfer taxes in the form of Stamp Duty (ITP) on resale property and VAT on new property are relatively high and vary between distinct regions of Spain and in the case of VAT whether it is a residential or commercial property being purchased.

Ongoing charges will arise to the town hall as regards Council Tax (IBI) and in some places a separate rubbish or residual waste levy is made. There is also an obligation to file an annual non resident return each year whether the property has actually been rented or not.

Finally on a sale of the property the seller may be liable to Capital Gains Tax as well as a separate levy raised by the Town Hall known as “Plus Valia”.

Utilities and Banking

Post completion we will deal with the contracting or change over of electricity, water, etc. services to your name. A personal visit to the utility company is nearly always essential to avoid matters going wrong as telephone calls rarely prove effective.

Ongoing expenses are best paid by direct debit arrangements set up to a Spanish bank account. Anti Money Laundering Regulations may mean that the bank will require you to provide adequate evidence as to the source and origin of the funds for the purchase as should your lawyer.

New or “Off Plan” Property

Despite the excitement until the property is built any instalment payments you make towards it amount to little more than the acquisition of “thin air”. Spain has had laws to protect buyers of off plan projects for almost 50 years but despite modifications many developers have not taken them seriously as the penalties for non compliance are so derisory.

We will ensure that the developer and his bankers are serious about issuing such guarantees and at the appropriate time be persistent in seeking to ensure they are forthcoming against payment of instalments towards the property.


Nearly all Mortgages offered in Spain are on a capital and interest repayment basis only and strict percentage limits are in place as regards loan /value ratios for non resident buyers. The bank will control the arrangements for the mortgage throughout and there is never any question of the funds being transferred prior to completion to your lawyers client account.

Bank officials will attend the completion meeting before the Notary in person and a separate lengthy and largely incomprehensible Mortgage Deed will be signed before the Notary at the same time as the Purchase Deed.

Bank arrangement fees and taxes on the mortgage loan can be an unwelcome surprise as can charges arising from modification to the mortgage terms and its cancellation.