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The Stages of Buying a Resale Property in Spain

When you are buying a property in Spain, aside from the legality of your purchase, one of your key concerns may relate to the time that the buying process can take to conclude.  As with any process involving a number of actors with diverse interests, its duration will depend on a number of uncontrollable factors.  Nevertheless, the following is a guide to the most important phases of the process and the time that you can expect each phase to last.

Stage One – Agreeing a price and carrying out enquiries

Once you have viewed the property that you want to purchase and have agreed a price, but before you make any payment to the seller or the seller’s agent (i.e. before you make a reserve payment), enquiries must be carried out to determine who owns the property, whether there are any debts or other charges registered against it, whether they will be removable upon completion of the transaction, whether the property was built lawfully, and what the on-going liabilities will be.

This stage may take a day or two to complete, or may take longer depending upon the cooperation of the seller, the seller’s agent, or the seller’s legal representative, because if you or your lawyer are not provided with information straightaway, or at all, the process of obtaining that information from scratch may take longer.  Also, the speed at which the planning department at the local town hall provides information may vary considerably.

If you are buying a rural property or a non standard property, such as a barn conversion, then this stage is very likely to take longer than if you are buying a townhouse or an apartment, as more documentation will be required to establish the planning status and the legality of the property you are buying.  

Stage Two – Private agreement

Once you have received a report on title, considered the risks and decided to proceed with the purchase, you will enter into a private agreement with the seller and make a deposit payment on account of the total purchase price.  The terms of the private agreement may well deal with issues arising from the enquiries made.

Depending upon any issues to be resolved further to enquiries, prior to signature of the private agreement, this stage may take anything from a few days to a number of weeks.

Stage Three - Completion

The final date for completion will be established in the private agreement.  Completion documentation will be prepared and signed before a Notary, usually in Spain.  Either the buyer and the seller, or their respective representatives, will attend the completion meeting, where the purchase funds will be paid to the seller and the buyer will receive the keys to the property.

Completion of the purchase is usually from one to two months from the date of signing the agreement and paying the deposit.  However, if you are buying a property off plan, this period may be considerably longer, usually a minimum of one year, but prepare for delays.

Stage Four – Post completion

Once the transaction is complete, purchase tax will be paid on your behalf and the property will be registered in your name.  

This stage can take a few weeks to complete, but it need not affect your enjoyment of your new property, as the steps to be taken are purely administrative.

The shortest time that the buying process can take is approximately a week to two weeks if everything is going in your favour, although in reality a purchase is likely to take from four to six weeks from finding the property and agreeing a purchase price to completing the transaction, not including the time it will then take to register your interest in the property.

It is important to note that in order to engage your independent lawyer, you will almost certainly need to enter into a written agreement with him or her.  You may also be required to provide your lawyer with copies of documentation evidencing your identity and your address.  This need not take long, but it will also add to the time you need to complete the transaction.  In addition, if your lawyer is to apply for your Spanish tax (NIE) number and complete the purchase on your behalf, you will need to grant a power of attorney authorising your lawyer to do so.  Again, this takes time, so while the application for your NIE number can be carried out simultaneously with other initial tasks, such as making enquiries and reporting to you, be certain to take into consideration the time that these necessary administrative tasks will add to the purchase process.

Tips for how to make the process of buying a resale property in Spain progress more quickly:

  1. If you are buying the property with a mortgage, make sure you have an offer in principle in place before making an offer. 
  2. If you are a cash buyer, make sure that your funds are accessible, so that you can easily transfer funds for the deposit and in due course for completion.
  3. Make sure that your lawyer knows your preferred completion date. 
  4. Provide your lawyer with all documentation and contact details at an early stage, so that enquiries in respect of the property can be made as soon as possible.
  5. If you are going to arrange for a survey to be carried out, and your purchase is conditional upon the results of the survey, make sure that the surveyor attends the property and provides you with the report in a speedy fashion.

Having said that, speed is not everything.  It is important that thorough enquiries are made in respect of the property and on occasion it can take time to receive the documentation to be certain that the property has no outstanding planning issues.  It is important not to be pushed into completing a purchase before all documentation has been received and you have received a report from your lawyer, so you can assess the risks before deciding to proceed.

For more information on buying a property in Spain please take a look at our property pages

If you are considering buying a property in Spain and you have any questions in relation to the process of buying a property in Spain, please contact us for a free initial consultation.  You can contact us by email at info@solicitorsinspain.com. by telephone on 020 3478 1420, or by using our contact form.   

Last updated: 27 April 2016

Testimonials

I wanted to make sure everything was done properly and my interests protected. E&G Solicitors in Spain handled everything once I decided on the property. Communication was very good and very prompt, in person, by email and over the phone. I think the service was beyond expectations, even following up on my case over a year after the purchase to ensure everything was in order.

Lene Ostergaard, Denmark