Moving to Spain? – A Few Basics on How to Legally Buy Property in Spain

by elmuchogrande on October 9, 2012

  • Sumo

So you’ve decided that you want to move to Spain? It’s a pretty big decision, and there are many things you should take into consideration.


Research the area you’ve chosen to move to very carefully. You may have visited somewhere for two weeks on holiday a couple of times, but that’s very different from actually living somewhere. For instance, the little shop that only seems to be open for an hour or two might be quaint in the summer when you’re relaxing in the sun, but not at winter when you need something to eat.

That’s more of a preference than a necessity though. What you really need to research is what estate agents and lawyers you’re going to use. Like looking for these companies anywhere else, you should compare prices and see who will offer the best service. In this scenario though, I would make sure you look for the lawyers and estate agents that know the area best, rather than the cheapest. We are talking about your new home here.

The Spanish property conveyance system is also very different to the UK and you should ensure that those involved in the transaction are qualified professionals, who have an expert knowledge of how the system works. If you choose to work with a British estate agent, promoter or lawyer, check that they are qualified, reliable and have experience operating in Spain. One such law firm is Pannone UK.

Seek independent legal advice:

You should always appoint an independent lawyer who is experienced in conveyance and operates completely independent from those involved in the transaction. Many firms offer this service.

If your lawyer is based in Spain, check that he/she is registered and practicing with the local Colegio de Abogados (Bar association) by asking for their registration number and verifying this with the Colegio de Abogados. You can find a full list of all the Colegios de Abogados across Spain on the Consejo General de la Abogacia Espanola website.

Use a chartered surveyor:

The Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) exists in Spain and there are between 30-40 residential chartered surveyors working across the peninsula and the islands. Members of the RICS are qualified and experienced professionals offering independent and impartial advice. They can be identified by the letters after their name, MRICS or FRICS.

Bank guarantees:

If you are buying a property off-plan or under construction, always insist on a bank guarantee (aval bancario) to cover your various payments you have yet to make.

Developers of off-plan properties are legally obliged under law 57/1968 to secure all deposits with either a bank guarantee. Do not make any payments without a guarantee and ensure that your deposit is paid into a special escow account. NEVER pay directly into the developer account regardless of what they suggest.


Before completing your purchase, make sure you have seen the following:
• The Land Registry extract listing the owners – this will list debts and charges that are attached to the property. English versions can be provided for Ex-pats.

• Planning permission certificates.

• Receipts of previous owners ‘Property Tax (IBI)’ Bills, Utility Bills, and a certificate backing up the payment and receipts.

• The ‘Catastral’ certificate – this will show you exactly how much land you own and where the exact boundaries are.

• If it’s a new house you’re moving into, you should receive a certificate saying you are the first owners. This is called the ‘Licencia de Primera Occupación’.

• The public Deed.

These things are just the first steps and to really know things are going write you should hire a specialist property lawyer who knows the Spanish system inside out.



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