Bargain Property on the Costa Blanca. Many under 100,000 Euros
Buying a Spanish Resale Property
You are advised to seek professional Legal support
from properly qualified entities familiar with the total Property Buying
process. There are often unexpected pitfalls for the unwary and proper guidance
is essential.For a free initial consultation CLICK HERE
1.- POINTS TO CHECK
The process of purchasing a property in Spain is very similar to that prevalent in other countries. You should pay attention to the following POINTS TO CHECK:
1. Check the vendor does legally own the property: You need to be provided with a copy of the vendor’s deeds, or 'escritura'. Also, you have to consult the land registry to check the formal conditions of the ownership, limitations, charges, etc., and if there are any loans/mortgages affecting the property.
2. Check that the property is duly registered and that the Council Tax or 'Impuesto sobre Bienes Inmuebles (IBI)' has been paid up to date. Unpaid Council Tax from the previous years may be passed to the new owner.
3. Obtain a certificacion catastral to ensure that the property is duly registered and check that the size and conditions are the same ones seen and described to you.
4. Visit and meet the construction department of the Town Hall to be informed about points such as has planning permission has been granted, and that there are no other developments planned nearby that could affect your new property.
5. Check that there are not any fines or limitations affecting the property due to its construction, or even orders of demolition.
2.- STEPS OF THE PURCHASE PROCESS
The buying process in Spain is a bit different from other countries. It is compulsory that you are informed, and that you understand all the steps of the purchase process, and that you receive the proper legal assistance before you sign, or pay, anything. Once the contract is signed it is legal and be aware that any deposit paid will be lost if you subsequently change your mind. We strongly recommend you contract a reputable Spanish Solicitor to help you and to assist you in all the steps of this process.
Once you have taken the decision to buy in Spain, it is absolutely necessary to take the following steps:
A) Open a bank account. All the payments to the vendor must be done from your bank account. Partial payments on account of the final price can be done from your bank account in your country of residence. But is recommended that the final paymentsof the price (the biggest) are done from a bank account in Spain, previously opened in your name. So, once you are in Spain, do not forget to open a bank account.
Also, a bank account will be necessary after completion to pay the utility bills, community charges, etc., related to your property.
B) NIE (Numero de Identificación de Extranjeros): Please Note! it is essential to obtain what we call NIE for the acquisition of a property in Spain.
All Spanish foreigners and Non-residents are required to obtain an individual NIE number. This is necessary for the payment of the taxes and the proper legal identification of buyers and parties involved in the sale.
DEPOSIT and RESERVATION CONTRACT
Once you have taken the decision to buy a specific property, the first action you will be asked for is to pay a initial deposit to keep the property out of the market. The aim of the deposit is to take it off the market and reserved exclusively for you while you are studying the legal situation of the property and other matters, like mortgages, financial status, etc.
During the validity of the deposit contract, if the Vendor does not fulfill his obligation and he breaches the contract with 'bad faith' (refusing to sale or changing his mind, or selling to another buyer), then he will refund you double of the amounts received as a penalty for breaching of contract. If the Buyer fails to complete the sale, he loses the amount of his deposit .
THE PURCHASE CONTRACT ('Contrato de Compraventa').
Once the deposit is paid, and you have made the searches on the property, in the majority of cases it is established to arrange a definitive contract in which an additional partial payment is required.
This contract is now a definitive one. The main difference with this one and the reservation or deposit contract is regarding the obligations of the parts. Mainly, the obligations of the vendors are higher because, with this contract, the vendor cannot pull out the sale or sell to a third party. The intention from the vendor to sell to the buyer is now confirmed, and he, simply, cannot leave the sale.
In the purchase/sale contract is included all the terms and conditions for the purchase, and the sale of the property, fixing the price, and considering the circumstances obtained after the searches over the property. For example, it can be agreed that the vendor has to fulfill determinate obligations, like to update the size of the property in the land registry or to pay specified bills which were unpaid so far; etc.
Also, in this contract, the expenses to be paid by each party are detailed and listed, for example who pays the notary and land registry fees, etc. Is highly recommended that this contract is made by Solicitors with experience in Conveyancing.
COMPLETION OF THE SALE - TITLE DEEDS ( Escritura de Compra venta).
The 'Contrato de Compraventa' is a private contract confirming a valid sale of the property to the buyer. This contract is perfectly valid between both parties with the rights and obligations contained. But, to complete the change of the names in the ownership of the property, is not enough. This is done passing the agreement from a 'private' contract into a 'public' one. The 'public contract' is called 'Escritura de publica de compraventa' or 'Public Title deeds'.
The 'public title deeds' in Spain are not done by private Solicitors, like other countries such as the UK. They are done by Public Notaries. So, in Spain, to turn a contract from 'private' into 'public', it must be notarised (ellaborated by a notary), and inscribed in the Property Register, when it becomes an 'escritura publica'. And this is the most important moment of the sale, because this coincides with the last payment of the price to the vendor, and is the moment in which the vendor gives the possession and the ownership to the buyer.
The way to sign the escritura is at the notary's office. Both parties (vendors and buyers), in person, or by legal representatives (power of attorney), must be present at the notary office at the day of completion agreed in the previous private contract. If the buyer requires a mortgage to buy the property, the mortgage bank representative must also attend the meeting in order to complete the mortgage loan to the buyer. As mentioned, if buyer or vendor cannot attend this meeting, they can arrange a 'Poder' (power of attorney) to allow someone else to represent him (usually, Solicitors).
As explained, in the notary's meeting, the buyer pays the rest of the price agreed to the vendor (usually by banker's draft), and the vendor gives the occupation of the property to the vendor, together with the ownership. In this act, then, the vendor, literally, gives the 'keys' of the property to the buyer. In that moment, both parties sign the title deeds, and the sale is complete.
After that, vendors and buyers are provided with a copy of the original deeds called 'Copia Simple'. This document is a simple copy of the escritura. With this document the buyer can prove the ownership of the property, and is needed to make the necessary changes in the electric and water contracts.
Originals of the title deeds will go to be presented at the land registry office to complete the change of the names in this registry. Your Solicitor, your bank, or the notary will send the original set to the Land Registry, together with the receipts of the taxes already paid. This process usually takes a couple of months.
HOW TO MAKE THE PAYMENTS
As explained above, the best way to make the final payments of the sale to the vendor is directly from a bank account in your name in Spain. For this, previously you had to open a bank account in one of the Spanish banks. Before completion, you need to transfer from your country of residence, the necessary amounts to your Spanish bank account in order to cover:
- The rest of the final price to the vendor
- The expenses and taxes of the transaction (notary and land registry fees, taxes, legal fees, etc).
So, in Spain is different as other countries like UK, where all the payments are done through the Lawyer's bank account. In Spain must be done directly to the vendor's bank account.
The most common practice to make the final payment of the price to the vendor is by a Bankers Draft issued in the name of the vendor. So, make sure that you, or your Solicitor, have enough provision of funds in the Spanish bank account to attend this payment at least one week before the date agreed in the Notary.
The other expenses, such as the Transfer Tax, Notary and Land Registry fees, etc., can be agreed separately, and paid to your Lawyer, or to your mortgage bank, if that is the case.
Please bear in mind that if the Vendor is non-resident, you have to retain a determinate amount of the price to pay to the vendor (the 3%), and deposit it to the Spanish Tax office (called 'Hacienda') on account of the vendor’s capital gains tax liability. This is done using the form model 211. Your Solicitor will instruct you how to proceed with this point. .
PURCHASE COSTS AND EXPENSES
You need to reckon that in total your costs of buying the property will be around 11-12% of the purchase price and are not related to the value of the property so could vary widely.
The tax to pay for purchase of a RESALE is not VAT (IVA), which is currently is the 10 % and is applied to NEW property. It is a different tax called Transfer Tax, or Impuesto sobre Transmisiones Patrimoniales (ITP), which is now 8% (in the majority of the Spanish regions) of the purchase price.
If you purchase a new property from a Developer you pay VAT (IVA) at 10% (instead of the 8 % ITP) because the sale is a business transaction, between a company (the builder), and a consumer (the buyer). But, in resales, there is not a company involved, is only a private transaction between two individuals or particulars.
Your lawyer's fees, which are likely to be around 1% of the purchase price, plus VAT. In addition to this, your Solicitor will charge you for the expenses of the searches like land registry reports, certificates, costs for changing utility contracts, and other administrative charges.
Other expenses to pay on resales are notary, registration and handling (gestoría) fees, which may be around 0.5-1% of the purchase price.
If you needed a mortgage, there would be also notary and registry fees to pay for registering the mortgage deed, together with commissions from your bank and other charges like life, or house, insurance, etc. There would also be a valuation fee, which the cost of the surveyor contracted by your bank to evaluate the property.
EXPENSES TO BE PAID BY THE BUYER
· Notary Fees: For the formalization of the title deeds
· Land Registry Fees: For the inscription of the property deeds in your name in the official Registro de la Propiedad.
· Transfer Tax: (ITP) Currently, this is the 8% over the total price of the property.
· Others: Solicitor Fees, Mortgage expenses, contracts of water, electric, and gas, etc.
Very important. On completion DO NO FORGET to bring with you to the notary:
- ORIGINAL NIE NUMBERS.
- ORIGINAL PASSPORTS.