The Costa del Sol has become in recent years, one of the most attractive places in the Mediterranean in which to buy property. With thousands of kilometres of sandy beaches, a laid back and relaxed lifestyle and within easy reach of most of its neighbours in Europe, it's no wonder that so many people over the years and even still today, are looking to buy Spanish property here, whether to live in, or for investment purposes.
Unfortunately a vast number of buyers seem to leave their brains on the plane or back home when traveling to another country to buy property, many of which have been stung by some of the less than honest agents that have been based on the coast in recent years.
This article has been written in order to help you as the buyer, to understand the purchase process and legal requirements, which you will encounter when buying Spanish property.
Before The Purchase
Find A Reputable Spanish Lawyer - The next quest comes when searching for a reliable and reputable Spanish lawyer. The reason that I say "Spanish" is that you really need a lawyer who is totally versed with the complexities of the Spanish legal system. This you will only find with a Spanish lawyer.
Although there are real estate agents out there who recommend a lawyer to you, this is generally due to the fact that they will gain a commission from the lawyer due to the business relationship that they have. It is important that you do not use a lawyer that is tied to a specific agent. Find an independent lawyer who is going to act in your best interests and hold your hand through the whole process.
Another important aspect of finding a Spanish lawyer is that they can converse well with you in your native language. This will be of obvious benefit when they need to sit down with you and explain the purchase process more detail or keep you informed of any news about your process.
Communication is a vital aspect of buying a property in Spain. If you are unable to converse with your lawyer effectively, this could lead to problems.
Find An Estate Agent - Finding an estate agent on the Costa del Sol is not a difficult assignment. You can find one on almost every street corner. The real problem is finding an agent that will represent your best interests, understand what your requirements and needs are and have a thorough understanding of the market and buying process.
Although there are many aspects to buying a Spanish property, this could be the most important aspect for you and can be the difference between a smooth buying process where your purchase goes through without a hitch or it could spell months or even years of heartache and misery and possibly a total loss of your money.
Although this sounds a bit scary (and it should be), it only serves to highlight what can and what has happened, to many buyers in Spain.
All this can be avoided though by finding the right agent, and size does not matter.
Some of the best agents on the coast you maybe surprised to learn, are the smaller agents. The advantage of using a smaller agent is that you get a more personal service, compared with the bigger real estate companies who tend to treat their clients like a piece of meat. With the smaller agents you are treated on a more personal level with the agent having more time for you, and taking more of an interest in what YOU want.
One way of finding a reputable agent is through word of mouth. Try asking friends and family or the local community, if they have had good experiences with any local estate agents and try and gauge which ones come out on top.
Another way to learn more is to hang out in some of the real estate forums that are focused on the Spanish property market. There are always are number of people who are only too pleased to share their experiences with you.
Which ever agent you choose, make sure that you feel totally confident in their ability to represent your interests and that they have sound knowledge of the Spanish real estate market.
During The Purchase Process
The Preliminary Contract - Once you have found your Spanish property, the next step is to place a formal offer with the vendor showing your intent to purchase the property. A preliminary contract is then drawn up by the lawyer, which means the vendor has to remove the property from the market. The contract that is known as the "Contrato privado de compraventa" and will contain the agreed selling price and other details on the property.
This stage of the process is also when you will need to provide a deposit of between 5 and 10% of the purchase price. This payment is kept in a lawyers bonded account and shows your commitment to buy the property.
The Final Contract - The Escritura de compraventa is the final contract and this is where you pay the final sum of money for the property, including fees minus any deposits already made.
You will then be issued with a public deed for the property which will be witnessed by the notary public. A copy of this deed is then sent to the tax office and to the property registry.
The whole purchase process can take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months and can depend on many factors such as the efficiency of your lawyers and estate agents. It can also depend on the vendor and buyers desire to complete at the earliest opportunity.
Needless to say, during all aspects of the purchase process when buying Spanish property, it is highly recommended that your lawyer is on hand and that they guide and advise you at every single stage.