Buying a house in Spain, how does it work?

Buying a house in Spain, how does it work?

As a profesional real estate agent in Marbella, we regularly get the question of worried people how the purchase of a (second) house in Spain exactly goes and what to watch out for.. We would like to explain the buying process of a Spanish property here.

Have you found a Spanish house that (almost) meets your wishes? You can then make a reservation for this Spanish property. You will have to pay a certain amount. This amount is usually around 6000, - euro and can be paid by credit card or bank transfer.

The deposit can not be refunded. That's not unreasonable because the house in Spain is held for you. Also on this website your property is registered as sold. You then have time to do some research and arrange your business like the financing. The deposit will be deducted from the final amount when the purchase continues.

It is advisable to include in the contract that if the seller withdraws, he is liable to you to pay this deposit amount - in addition to reimbursement of the amount paid.

Provisional purchase contract for Spanish property or holiday home

The purchase contract may also be a provisional agreement that you make with the selling agent. You can also use a notary. If you are not yet sure if you will get the financing, you can meet the seller that you may still be able to purchase. This must be very explicit written in the agreement. Often you will have to pay. If canceled, you may not get the full deposit amount back, but this is also negotiable.

The role of the notary

The notary has a less serious role in Spain than we are used to in other countries. He is there mainly to capture the agreements between the buyer and the seller in an official document. In doing so, he will check if the seller is really the owner of the property. The Spanish notary also investigates whether there are no embargos or mortgages on the property. If the buyer does not speak the language sufficiently, the notary will use an interpreter / translator. Although the notary has a duty of investigation, it is also important to check the important issues your self.

Not uncommonly, the notary in the memorandum claims that he can not be held liable for any errors in his investigation. The additional check can be performed by a lawyer or a so-called gestor. The latter is turned on to check administrative matters. The rates of gestors are free; Compare prices and make appointments in writing.

Purchase contract for a Spanish property

Purchase contract for a Spanish property at the notaryIf you decide to finally buy the holiday home or your second home in Spain, then a purchase contract will be made. This includes all parties. A Spanish broker, a gestor or a notary is usually searching for you who is the official owner according to the register of property (registro de la propiedad). It's very important that that person signs, otherwise you will pay, but you are not officially the owner! Really for 100% assurance, you have to ask a lawyer for you to have a look for who is the owner in the registry.

Once the purchase contract has been signed, you must pay 10% of the sales price. If you cancel after this payment this payment can not be refunded. Also now it is wise to include in the contract that if the seller withdraws, he has to pay 10% to you.


The contract must include deadlines. Among other things, consider:

  • When should there be paid for the Spanish property?
  • When is the "delivery" of the Spanish home or your holiday home?
  • When will the payment periods expire in the event of a newly built Spanish property?

Transfer letter of the Spanish residence

Normally, the transfer of existing properties in Spain takes place within 3 months. The notary writes the act in the register. If you need to finance the property with a mortgage, there will also be someone from the bank to sign the transfer note.

The delivery, the keys ...

A final critical tour of and around the house in Spain is not foolish. If you take the inventory of the Spanish property or the holiday home in Spain, check that there is not missing anything at all. Think of the butagas bottles, and all sets of keys. You can also ask your broker to do this for you.

Returning back to these types of cases often proves to be difficult. In this case, checking on forehand is better than trust, even if you may be suspicious or unfriendly about it.


Escritura is the Spanish word for proof of ownership. If a property changes from owner, an escritura will be drawn up. The new owner of the property in Spain, is given a new escritura. The old escritura must given from the old owner to the new owner.

The escrituras you get when buying a home:

  • Escritura publica de compraventa - This is the certificate of ownership. This indicates who owns the property and all the information
  • Escritura de hipoteca - This is the mortgage deed you receive when closing a mortgage. This describes the object, the amount and the owner.

If you lose the escritura, there is always a copy available at the notary. It is only available to the owner, who must then appear with a passport.

Register with the municipality land register

Once the sale of the property is completed in Spain, you must register with the municipality (in the Catastro). This will give you tax liability for the Spanish property tax.

You must provide the tax return for these taxes. You really need to get on to it your self, they will not automatically send a tax payment form. If you leave this, the charge may still appear after years.

Seguro decenal

The Seguro Decenal is a mandatory 10-year insurance on new constructions in Spain. This insurance covers damage caused by construction defects.

Spanish law states that as long as a Spanish home is not 10 years old, that insurance must always be. If the insurance is not available for any reason, the house can not be transferred! This can be difficult when you are about to move to Spain. The notary is obliged to, if the Seguro Decenal is missing, make a note in the Ownership Register.

It is therefore advisable NOT to buy a home, if newer than 10 years, if there is no seguro decenal.