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The dos and donts of buying an off-plan property in Spain

One of the appeals of buying an off-plan property in Spain is the ability to buy a brand new property and to have a say in how the finished property will look. In conjunction with this is the certainty for buyers, pre-construction, that their new build will be modern, functional and structurally sound. Equally, developers can be certain that they will not be out of pocket. 

There are, of course, similarities between buying an off-plan property in Spain and buying a resale property. However, there are also factors that are unique to off-plan properties. The process of off-plan property purchases differs in the first instance, but there have also long been risks involved for the purchaser as the property will not be built after they have already made payments towards the purchase price. Whilst there are now laws in place to protect buyers who opt for off-plan properties in Spain, which we discuss in a previous article, there will still be obstacles to overcome, like with any other property purchase.

To help you ensure that your transaction goes smoothly, we share our dos and donts of buying an off-plan property in Spain.

The dos of buying an off-plan property in Spain

  • Do… agree with the developer in writing on everything that will be included in the build, such as air conditioning units, power outlets and appliances.
  • Do… make sure, prior to signing the agreement, that the developer provides you and your independent lawyer with copies of the proposed bank guarantee and planning permission.
  • Do… be certain that any deposit paid by you is covered by the bank guarantee, whether paid on or prior to the signing of the agreement.
  • Do… ensure that your lawyer references snagging in the written agreement. A few weeks before completion, you will be invited to visit, or view photos of, the property so that you can provide a snagging list of issues that need rectifying.
  • Do… make sure that any outstanding secured loan / mortgage is paid by the developer, either prior to or simultaneously with completion. A developer will often include a clause in the agreement allowing them to mortgage the property, usually so that they can raise funds for the development.  Remember, the property remains the property of the developer until you complete the purchase.
  • Do… negotiate with the developer any extensions to the total time allowed until completion, reducing as much as possible the overall time the project is likely to take to complete. Developers usually extend the date by three to six months to allow for flexibility should anything go wrong.
  • Do… ensure that you understand, before signing, how to enforce the bank guarantee should you need to do so. Your lawyer should advise you on this.
  • Do… make sure that any unfinished work is carried out prior to completion. Once the completion documentation is signed and the monies are paid, it will become very difficult to get anything finished.
  • Do… make a Spanish Will setting out who will inherit any assets that you own in Spain when you die.

The donts of buying an off-plan property in Spain

  • Don’t… pay any money to the developer until you have sought advice from an independent Spanish lawyer.
  • Don’t… forget to do your research. When buying an off-plan property in Spain there are things you ought to be considering in detail. Our checklist will give you some ideas as to what enquiries your lawyer should be making.
  • Don’t… forget that you will need to pay purchase tax shortly after the completion meeting, once you become the owner of the property. Due to the property being new, VAT is payable at 10% of the purchase price (6.5% in the Canary Islands), plus stamp duty of between 1% and 1.5%, depending upon where in Spain you purchase.

Next steps

Buying an off-plan property in Spain may seem like a daunting endeavour, but it needn’t be. Engaging an independent Spanish lawyer will ensure that much of what we have set out above is dealt with by your representative, although it is important for you to understand what is going on.

If you are considering buying an off-plan property in Spain, or have already decided on an off-plan development, please do be in contact with us. You can contact us by email at info@solicitorsinspain.com, by telephone on 020 3478 1420, or by completing our contact form.

Last updated: 14 August 2020

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