Spain Property Buying Guide

Spain has been a top destination for overseas property buyers for many years. This guide will help you get to grips with everything involved in purchasing a property in Spain. It provides you with the information you need on the processes and the costs involved in buying a property in Spain.

Why Spain?

Many foreigners have been attracted to Spain, and for a good reason. Spain enjoys fantastic weather where you can play golf, swim or sit outside comfortably all year. You will discover a relaxed, family-oriented lifestyle, beautiful coastlines and quieter roads.

The cost of living is lower in Spain. Its healthcare system is excellent, and the people are friendly. And finally, Spain has the most delicious food and drink.

Perfect Property Brief

Before beginning your search, you should spend some time establishing your requirements by answering these questions. This exercise will help you avoid wasting time and disappointment.

Why are you buying? Defining how you plan to use the property will help you evaluate the properties – weekender, holidays then retirement, investment or something in between.

What are you looking for in your ideal property? It is surprising how many people forget to define their requirements fully – bedrooms, bathrooms, property type, locations, must-haves and turn-offs, orientation and view.

What is your budget? You must establish a realistic idea of your budget. Get an in-principal approval if you plan to get finance, and remember to allow for buying costs in your budget. Buying costs are at least 10% of the property costs. If you are interested in residency visas, then allow for more!

Where are you looking to buy? Finally, establishing where you are looking to purchase your property will save you considerable time and money. Below is a summary of the regions.

Where in Spain?

Spain is a large country with so many variations in landscape, character, climate, and the cost of properties that it can be hard to decide where to buy. Here is a brief introduction to the most popular areas of Spain.

Costa Blanca – Comprised of Costa Blanca North and Costa Blanca South to region enjoys warmth all year, tempered by Mediterranean breezes. Costa Blanca North is more mountainous, and the resorts are smaller and quieter. Expat friendly resorts include Dénia and Jávea. It is the most popular area for foreign buyers looking for second homes or somewhere to retire. Costa Blanca South is flatter and dryer. Properties are much cheaper in resorts such as Torrevieja and Orihuela Costa.

Despite Brexit, UK buyers still account for a significant share of the market, but demand from Scandinavian countries and EU countries such as Belgium is increasing.

Costa del Sol – Spain’s most popular resort since the late 1950s when air travel made the region accessible to the masses for the first time. Many loved it so much that they decided to stay. Thanks to stunning beaches and an endless supply of sun and sangria, Costal del Sol continues to be an excellent destination for anyone in search of the good life. The region attracts the second-highest number of foreign buyers, with prices on average being a little higher than Costa Blanca.

Costa Dorada – People come here for the beaches, nightlife and entertainment. Costa Dorada has 300 kilometres of Golden Coast, encompassing Barcelona, Tarragona and the resorts of Salou, Sitges, and Roc de Sant Gaita. Beautiful vineyards in the foothills of the mountains. And of course, Port Aventura theme park and Aquópolis Costa Dorada waterpark are located in this region.

Surprisingly, properties are cheaper than most of the other Costas, possibly due to the quieter and colder off-seasons.

Costa Brava – A coastal region of Catalonia in north-eastern Spain, where the Pyrenees meets the Mediterranean. Costa Brava stretches from the town of Blanes, northeast of Barcelona, up to the French border. The region has a great mix of unspoilt beaches, emerald seas, an excellent culinary scene, and a strong cultural heritage.

Resorts here include Blanes, Lloret and Tossa de Mar, where you find a good variety of reasonably priced properties. You will be spoilt for choice when it comes to properties, from modern apartments to stylish villas. If you prefer rustic properties, town and country houses in the traditional Mediterranean style are also available.

Costa Calida – Spain’s Costa Calida means Warm Coast. The region enjoys a unique microclimate, making the area a few degrees hotter than everywhere else in Spain. There are more than 25 blue-flagged beaches. These beaches are spread along the 250 km (155 miles) of coastline that make up this beautiful Costa.

The area saw a lot of development in anticipation of a new Paramount theme park planned for the region. But the project was beset with problems. It is supposedly scheduled to open in 2025. This uncertainty has led to an oversupply of properties and bargains in the coastal towns of Santiago de la Ribera, Mar de Cristal and San Pedro Del Pinatar.

Costa Almeria – Is a hidden treasure of southern Spain located southeast of the Iberian Peninsula on the Mediterranean Sea. Costa Almeria is a land of many contrasts with over 300 kilometres of coastline. Costa Almeria with its tranquil coastlines, some of the finest beaches in Spain and picturesque fishing ports. Almeria is ideal for those looking to escape from mass tourism and experience a rich culture without the crowds.

Costa de la Luz – Between Gibraltar and the Portuguese border, the region is popular with windsurfers in the summer and quiet in the winter. Costa de la Luz is known for its white sandy beaches and is much less developed than neighbouring Costa del Sol and the Algarve in Portugal.

You’ll discover reasonably priced country properties further inland in historic towns Jerez and Medina Sidonia. The region is served by four international airports – Gibraltar, Jerez, Seville and Faro in Portugal.

Costa del Azahar – Translates from Spanish as the Orange Blossom Coast. Along with the Valencia province, this region is indeed the land of orange trees. As with much of Spain, you will discover beautiful beaches, and wherever you go in Costa del Azahar, you will find excellent cuisine.

Thanks to a relatively low level of development in Costa del Azahar, if you are patient and do your research, you will likely find an excellent property deal.

Canary Islands – Located off the coast of Morocco. Comprised of seven islands: Tenerife, Lanzarote, Fuerteventura, Gran Canaria, La Palma, La Gomera, and El Hierro. Each island is different, varying in nightlife, beaches, and landscape. The islands enjoy year a warm climate all year that does not get too hot or too cold. Properties are relatively inexpensive, but demand is high.

Balearic Islands – Located in the Mediterranean, these islands are comprised of Mallorca, Menorca, Ibiza, and Formentera. The Balearics Islands are one of the most popular destinations in Europe. Thanks to easy international access to Mallorca, there is an established international community. One of the most expensive places to buy a home in Spain, but few regret the decision to buy here.

Mallorca has something for everyone, nightlife, idyllic villages, luxury boutique shopping and medieval old town.

Menorca is quieter and more relaxed. The island has more beaches than Mallorca or Ibiza combined, yet property prices are lower than Mallorca. During the off-season, international access is more difficult than Mallorca.

“The White Island” of Ibiza retains its clubbing title, but the island has endeavoured to expand its appeal to a broader audience over the years. Step away from the coastal entertainment areas, and you’ll discover a wooded island with picturesque and tranquil rural areas. Property prices are high, but you are rewarded with exceptionally high rental income during the summer months.

Costa Verde – Located in the northwest of Spain, Costa Verde sticks out into the Bay of Biscay and the Atlantic. Thanks to a wet climate, the region is very green, with lush meadows and forests. Due to the variable weather, the region is less touristy than other coastal areas. Rural properties at reasonable prices can be found here.

Popular areas are Llanes in Asturias and Lugo in Galicia, where you’ll discover original townhouses with amazing views.

Starting Your Search

Overseas Property Forum is a perfect place for you start your property search with new properties being added every day. And if you don’t find a property that meets your requirements, tell us about your perfect property criteria and we’ll send you details of properties to consider.

Experts you need for buying property in Spain

Estate Agent

Once you have a clearer idea of which area of Spain interests you, the next step will be to find a good estate agent covering the area. You will need a good agent to help you buy a property. Please make sure you do your research when looking for an agent. Check that the agent is a Real Estate trade association member with recourse to a property ombudsman and financial compensation.

Lawyer

A good independent lawyer who is fluent in your language and Spanish and who specialises in helping international clients with property purchases will work to protect your interests alone. We highly recommend you appoint a lawyer for your security, who will guide you through the purchase process, making all the checks required to ensure there are no nasty surprises before you sign any agreements or part with any money.

Always be wary of a lawyer recommended by the agent or developer as there may be a financial relationship. We can recommend a good Spanish lawyer to help with your property purchase. Ahead of a viewing trip, you should engage a lawyer to ensure you are set up to buy a property in Spain safely.

Notary

The Notary or Notario is a public official responsible for ensuring legal affairs of your property purchase are appropriately conducted and the correct taxes are paid. Please note that Notaries do not act for either the seller or the buyer. They are generally local to the area where you are purchasing your property. A notary recommended by your agent or lawyer should be ok to use, although you are still free to choose.

Surveyor

Not a legal requirement, but we strongly recommend you use an expert to survey your property to ensure there are no nasty surprises.

Currency Specialist

They will help you avoid losing money to currency market volatility. FCA regulated, your currency transfer specialist is a fast, safe, and secure way to ensure you get maximum value from your currency transfers. You should register for an account at the beginning of your search as they will help you establish a true budget and when you find your dream property, help you quickly secure it.

Cost of buying a Property in Spain

On top of the cost of the property, there are other costs you need to include when calculating your total budget. You should allow buying costs of around 14% of the purchase price. Below is a brief outline of those charges.

+ Tax
– New build properties – IVA (VAT) plus stamp duty
– Resale properties – (transfer tax) which can vary depending on the region. Stamp duty is included in the tax
+ Notary charges
+ Bank charges (apply when setting up deposit / loan / mortgage)
+ Structural survey of your property (optional)
+ Property / Land registration fees
+ Legal fees

The Legal Process

Although different to many countries, the process is straightforward. Below are the key stages:

1. Reservation Agreement (documento de reserve) – needs to be signed by you once your offer has been accepted. You will also be asked to pay a deposit to the seller (via their lawyer). The seller must take the property off the market. Important Note: Make sure your lawyer checks the agreement and that you are signing a reservation agreement, not a preliminary sales contract. You cannot get your deposit back after signing a preliminary sales contract if your lawyer discovers any legal issues.

2. Lawyer checks – Your lawyer undertakes several checks and searches on the property you intend to buy. If your lawyer discovers any legal issues, you can pull out of the agreement and get your deposit back.

3. Nota simple – is a report on the property provided by your lawyer confirming there are no outstanding charges/debts against the property. At this stage, you should start your registration for an NIE number (número de identificación de extranjero).

4. Preliminary sales contract – This agreement (contrato privado de Compraventa) is a detailed description of the property and price. It is signed by both you and the seller. This contract is drawn up by your lawyer within 15 – 30 days of the reservation agreement. A deposit of 10% will be need to be paid at this time. The date of completion is also set at this time.

5. Notary’s office – On the completion date, you, your lawyer and the seller sign the title deed (escritura) in the presence of the Notary. Transferring ownership to you, and the keys for the property are given to you. If you cannot return in person, you can give your lawyer power of attorney to sign on your behalf. You are required to pay the balance. If you have taken out a mortgage, the bank retains the original copy until you have paid off the mortgage.

6. Final payments – Your lawyer will need to be paid for his services. Ensure they provide an itemised record of the costs and securely store all the documentation and guarantees.

7. Land Registry – Your ownership details for the property need to be lodged with the Land Registry. This can be done by you, the Notary or your lawyer.

IMPORTANT: An NIE number is required to purchase a property, open a bank account, obtain finance, or access utilities.

What next?

Buying a property in Spain is no longer difficult or problematic thanks to stricter laws, increased protection for consumers and specialist property lawyers. Whatever stage you are at in your buying journey, we can introduce you to experienced professionals to help you with your Spanish property plans. Just tell us about your requirements.

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