Spanish legal advice in plain English

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The process of buying an off-plan property in Spain

Buying property off-plan in Spain was, for a time, something to be very cautious about.  You may have heard some of the horror stories from the so-called boom years in which people paid deposits for off-plan properties in Spain only to find that the property was never built, or the developer went into liquidation.  

If you found yourself in that situation, you may find our article on the new rules for reclaiming deposits paid for unbuilt off-plan properties useful.  

These days buyers of off-plan properties in Spain benefit from legal protection, but that does not mean that you can throw caution to the wind.  As with any property purchase in Spain you should instruct an independent Spanish lawyer to advise you in relation to the transaction.  Your independent Spanish lawyer will guide you through the following steps.  

Buying an off-plan property in Spain - Stage One

In the first stage you will be shown a show property and given information about the proposed development.  The developer’s salesperson will talk you through the timescale of the build and tell you about the fixtures and fittings you can purchase.  At this stage you will negotiate the price and it is very likely that you will be asked to make a deposit payment and to sign a lengthy contract.  The contract sets out the dates by which payments must be made as well as the predicted date for completion of the build.  
It is very important that you do not sign the contract or make any payment until you have consulted your independent Spanish lawyer.
Your independent Spanish lawyer will scrutinise the contract and advise you as to the terms, as well as the penalties if you fail to make a payment.
It is a matter of Spanish law that all developers of off-plan property in Spain must provide purchasers with a bank guarantee in respect of all payments made towards the property.  This is to protect you in case the developer should fail to complete the property.  During this stage your independent Spanish lawyer will also consider the terms of the guarantee, including looking into the process for enforcing it.
Only once you are satisfied that you have been comprehensively advised in respect of the terms of the contract should you proceed to sign it and pay the deposit.

Buying an off-plan property in Spain - Stage Two

Upon signature of the contract you will have paid a small deposit and within the contract you will have agreed to make further payments towards the property.  These payments will be significantly larger than the initial deposit.
It is important that you receive a bank guarantee for each and every payment made towards the property and so you should ensure that your independent Spanish lawyer is involved in this stage.
During this stage arrangements can also be made for the final completion, which will usually be several months in the future.  Your power of attorney can be signed and the application for your NIE can be made. This means that when the property is finished and it is time to complete the purchase you will have everything in place to do so. 

Buying an off-plan property in Spain - Stage Three

The final stage is reached when the developer has completed the build and registered the property.  You may find that the completion takes slightly longer than you anticipated.  Developers of off-plan property in Spain will usually include a clause within the contract that you sign at the outset in which it is provided that the completion of construction can be extended by up to six months.  This is not usually a negotiable term.  

Prior to completion you should try to ensure that any snags in the construction are identified and rectified, as well as ensuring that the fixtures and fittings are as agreed and up to standard.  It can be very difficult to rectify faults after completion.  Your independent Spanish lawyer can assist you with this step.

It is important to note that within the terms of the contract the developer will reserve the right to mortgage the property.  This is common practice used to ensure that the developer has sufficient cash flow to complete the build.  Your independent Spanish lawyer should ensure that everything is in place for any mortgage to be removed from the register in respect of your property so that you take ownership of the property with a clear title. 

Once the property has been registered you are able to complete the purchase and a completion meeting will be arranged.  You will be obliged to make payment of the balance of the purchase funds at the completion meeting.  

Buying an off-plan property in Spain - Stage Four

The final stage of an off-plan property purchase in Spain is for the taxes to be paid and for the property to be registered in your name.  Your independent Spanish lawyer can carry out these steps on your behalf.  
Find out more about the pitfalls of buying property in Spain.

You may also find our page on the costs of buying property in Spain to be useful.  

Taking the next steps towards buying an off-plan property in Spain

If you are considering buying a property in Spain contact us for a free initial consultation.  You can contact us by email at, by telephone on 020 3478 1420 or by completing our contact form.
Find out more about repossessed property in Spain.


Our main concern about buying a property in Spain was the language barrier. E&G Solicitors in Spain were excellent and professional in handling our matter. Thanks for your help.

Philip Lunn, Cheshire