If you have a house in Spain it is recommended to have a Spanish Will too.

Your heirs will also have to get a NIE number in order to inherit.

The main reason of having a Spanish Will is that it will be much easier for your heirs to deal with the inheritance.

You can hire a lawyer that will draft the Will in both English and Spanish. Once you have the document, you will have to go to a Spanish Notary for signing it along with a translator. If you hire a lawyer, he/she will be in charge of all the paperwork.

In Spain it is mandatory to sign the Will with a Notary. You will not need to bring any witnesses. Once you sign your Will, it will be recorded in the Notary office and the central Will registry will be informed that your Will is in this specific Notary office. Therefore, any heir will be able to find the Will.

Choose the Law which will rule your inheritance.

There is a new European Regulation (EU 650/2012) changing Inheritance Law after 17th August 2015. This new regulation orders that when a person dies and is a resident in a European country different than this of his/her nationality, the Inheritance Law that will rule the inheritance will be the one where he/she had his/her last residence.

This means that if an Irish citizen is retired and residing in Spain and he passes away, the Inheritance Law that will rule his inheritance will be Spanish Law, unless he stated in his Will that he wanted Irish Law to rule his inheritance.

It is very important for you to expressly state in your Will which Law you choose to rule your Inheritance.

This is important because Spanish Inheritance Law is stricter than UK Inheritance Law, for example. In Spain you cannot leave everything to your spouse or just name in your Will only one of your children. Under Spanish Law you have to leave 2/3rds of your Estate to your children (even if you don’t want to).

Therefore, it is very important to check or amend your Will before 15th August 2015 if you are residing in a European country different that the one of your nationality.

The Apostille is a certificate proving that the signature on a public document is authentic.

For example, when dealing with an inheritance, if you need to prove that you are heir, you will need to present Marriage or Birth Certificates. These Certificates will have to be legalised with the Apostille Certificate. You will also need to request the Apostille if you sign a Power of Attorney with a Notary in your country. The POA will not be valid in Spain unless it has been legalised with the Apostille.

It is a certificate commonly used in Spain when having cases which require presenting foreign paperwork, so do not be surprised if your lawyer asks you to legalise any documents.

The Apostille has to be requested in the country where the document was issued, therefore, if you have a birth certificate from Ireland, you will not be able to legalise it in Spain.

Each country has its own way of legalizing documents, normally you can find on the Internet how to do it, or you can ask to a Notary how to do it.

You can find more information about legalising a document in the UK in the following link.

https://www.gov.uk/get-document-legalised

You can find more information about authenticating a document in Ireland in the following link.

https://www.dfa.ie/travel/our-services/authenticating-documents/

A power of attorney is a document signed with a Notary Public where a donor gives powers to another person (wife, lawyer…) for specific actions.

With this document, the attorney is legally authorized to carry out the powers stated in the document on behalf of the donor.

You will need a power of attorney for different actions:

a) If you need to file a claim, you will need to sign a power of attorney on behalf of your lawyer and the Court Representative (Procurador)

b) If you would like to buy a property in Spain and you will not be able to be present at the Notary for signing the title Deeds. Then you should sign a power of attorney on behalf of your lawyer or on behalf of the person representing you in the purchase.

c) If you need to inherit a property in Spain and you cannot come to the Notary.

The power of attorney can include wide powers for each specific case; for example: appearing in Court on behalf of the donor, opening bank accounts, buying properties, allocating inheritances, requesting the NIE number…

You can sign the Power of Attorney in Spain with a Spanish Notary. The Notary will have to be instructed with the contents of the POA. The document will be written in Spanish so you will have to bring a translator with you.

You can also sign it in your country in front of a Notary Public. Your Spanish Lawyer will draft the POA in English and Spanish; then you should sign this document with the Notary and legalize it with the Apostille to make it valid in Spain.

Connecting utilities in Spain might be different than doing it in your country, so take a look to what you will need.

Before buying your property, please make sure to request the last water and electricity bills to the seller. It is important to make sure that these bills are paid.

Once you have the bills you should transfer the contract into your name and provide the water and electricity company with your bank account details for direct debit.

Changing the contract holder will be much cheaper than making a new contract.

– Electricity

New-build properties or properties with no electricity contract (or if the contract has been cancelled by the owner):

  • CIE (Boletín de Enganche, Certificado Instalación de Baja Tensión or Certificado de Instalación Eléctrica) (Connection certificate). In order to get that document, you should hire an electrician. The electrician will prepare the installation and once everything is right, he/she will give you this certificate.
  • Licencia de Primera Ocupación (The First Occupation License) or Certificado de Habitabilidad (Certificate of Habitability). For these certificates please ask the Town Council. Usually you should hire a technical architect (arquitecto técnico) to write down the report. Once you have paid the tax and presented the architect report, the Town Council will give you this certificate.
  • NIE Number
  • Bank account number for direct debit
  • Address of the property

For resale properties:

  • For resale properties, you will need to request the Licencia de Segunda Ocupación (The Second Occupation License). The process is the same as getting the Certificate of Habitability, please ask the Town Council. *Not every electric company asks for this document.
  • If the property is older than 20 years and you need to reconnect electricity, you will also have to request the Connection Certificate mentioned above.
  • A copy of the last electricity bill including the contract details
  • NIE Number or Passport
  • Bank account number for direct debit
  • If you are renting the property, you will need a copy of the rental contract

The electric company will send the contract to your property and you will have to sign it and send it back to them.

Every two months you will receive the bill in your mail box. You can also request the electric company to send the bills to your email address.

– Water

Water is usually managed by local companies. You should find out about the water company in your town and go to their office to change the water contract.

Before you go there, please write down the numbers in your water meter and bring the paper with you.

You will need to bring the following documents:

  • Licencia de Primera Ocupación (The First Occupation License) or Certificado de Habitabilidad (Certificate of Habitability). For these certificates please ask the Town Council. Usually you should hire a technical architect (arquitecto técnico) to write down the report. Once you have paid the tax and presented the architect report, the Town Council will give you this certificate.
  • NIE Number
  • Bank account number for direct debit
  • Address of the property

For resale properties:

  • For resale properties, you will need to request the Licencia de Segunda Ocupación (The Second Occupation License). The process is the same as getting the Certificate of Habitability, please ask the Town Council. Normally every water company requires this document before changing the contract to your name. Some of them will give you some time to get this certificate and will change the contract to your name in the meantime.
  • A copy of the last electricity bill including the contract details
  • NIE Number or Passport
  • Bank account number for direct debit
  • If you are renting the property, you will need a copy of the rental contract

The Community of Owners in Spain is the government body of a building, urbanization or community. This community is regulated by the Horizontal Property Act. The community of owners is formed by neighbors who will be in charge of it for one year. This body has a President, a Secretary and Administrators. The administrator can be a neighbor, but normally it will be an Administrador de Fincas (property manager) hired by the community. The Administrator will be in charge of the building’s accounts and expenses.

Usually, every year there is a neighbor’s meeting (or general assembly) to discuss about the building’s problems, accounts, expenses, etc. In these meetings the new president, secretary and administrator will be appointed for the next year. It is important to be aware of these meetings because the community might approve remodeling the building or things like that (they are called “derramas”, and this will affect to the fees to be paid.

The building’s charges for electricity (lights, elevator…), garden or pool are a fixed fee that has to be paid to the community of owners account every month or every three months.

It is mandatory for every property owner to pay these charges, even if you don’t live there or even if you are renting it.

Nowadays, you can find that buying a cheap property in Spain is very easy due to the big amount of properties on sale, especially in coastal areas.

This might be a very good time and a great idea for having a holiday home or a home to retire, but we should think not only about the property price, but also about the costs involved in the purchase.

The Transfer Tax in the Valencian Community is the 10% of the property price, but for those apartments sold for €45,000-€65,000 you will probably pay more than that.

Before buying the property, the Notary could find about the real value that the local government gives to the property. If you find out that the value given to the property by the local government is much higher than the property price, be prepared to receive a letter some months after the purchase requesting you tax compensation.

If you buy a property for €50,000 you will pay €5,000 as transfer tax (impuesto de transmisiones patrimoniales). If the property valuation of the local government is 75.000€, you will be requested to pay extra tax of €2,500 because you bought the property under its value.

We cannot be certain about this because sometimes the government does not revise every property purchase, but lately most of the buyers who bought a bargain property are receiving a request for tax compensation.

If you receive this letter, please make sure to pay it on time because if you don’t, you will receive a fine.

– Verifying that everything is right with the property

Once you have decided what property you would like to buy (either with a real estate agent or with an individual selling his/her property), the first step is employing a lawyer for verifying the following:

  • Checking if the property is legal, its ownership and that planning permits are in order
  • If there are extensions or a swimming pool for example, making sure that there are planning permissions. This is important in order to avoid receiving fines if the alterations have been made illegally. Unfortunately, this is very common in this area.
  • Making sure that there are no tenants
  • Checking if there are mortgages, seizures or charges against the property
  • Checking that there are no unpaid taxes as the IBI (tax on real estate paid every year) or that there are no debts with the Community of Owners (if the property is part of a community development)
  • Checking that all bills for utilities have been paid for the last few years

– Signing the reserve contract

Normally this is the second or first step, even if you can sign the conveyance Deeds (escritura de compraventa) without one.

This contract is signed to reserve the property and is a security for the seller and the buyer. Once this contract is signed, the buyer will also have to pay a deposit for securing the property.

We advise to have the contract drawn up by a lawyer. Many times, those are standard contracts drawn up by the real estate agents. In such cases, they should be revised and approved by your legal advisor before being signed to safeguard your interests.

The contract will reserve the property for a specific term agreed between the parties. Normally, if the buyer doesn’t sing the conveyance deed in the agreed term, the buyer will lose the deposit paid.

If the contract obliges you to pay a deposit, you should be sure that this is the property that you wish to buy, because if you change your mind, you will lose the deposit paid.

At that point you should consider requesting your NIE Number. This is a foreigners Id number required for buying a property in Spain, for paying taxes and many other things.

– Paying a deposit

After deciding what property to buy and signing the contract, you will have to pay a deposit. In Spain it can be referred to as fianza, arras, reserva and depósito.

The amount is often agreed between the parties. It can be a fixed percentage, but normally it is between 1,000€ and 6,000€. The amount will be agreed in the contract as well as the conditions for refunding or losing it. You should always make sure that you are aware of the refund conditions in the event that there are problems with the property. You should always do it under the supervision of your lawyer.

-Buying an off-plan property

If you have decided to buy an off-plan property which will be built or which has not been completed, you should bear in mind very important points.

a) The contract:

In this document you will find the schedule for the property’s completion, method of payment and payment dates, clauses for covering your deposit in the event of non-completion, the plans and technical specifications with full description and its characteristics.

It is important to make the payments on time or you could lose the amounts already paid, and the property could be sold to another buyer interested on it.

b) Guarantees:

In Spain there have been many problems with off-plan properties that were never finished and the buyers lost their deposits because they didn’t request a bank guarantee. It is very important to ask for a bank guarantee when you pay a deposit. You should keep the document with you until your property is finished. The bank guarantee will protect your deposit in the event that the property is not completed or if the Occupancy Permit (Licencia de Primera Ocupación) is not obtained.

– Before completing the purchase at the Notary Office

It is important to be sure that the property is in the same condition as when you visited it. In Spain you “buy what you see” regardless of what it says in the Land Registry Certificate. Therefore, you will have to make sure that the property includes every item you saw when visited the property. If you are buying the property with furniture, make sure to have a list with the items included with the property. If you find that there are any damages, you should ask the owner to repair them immediately before completing the sale.

-Completing the purchase at the Notary Office

c) The Notary in Spain:

In Spain, the purchase of a property can only be completed with a Notary.

The Notary will prepare the Deeds that will be signed. He/she is also in charge of making sure that everything is right regarding possible tax debts linked to the property and is responsible to check that the price is paid to the seller.

The Notary will also check that the seller is the actual owner of the property and will also check the description with the Land Registry and if there are any charges (mortgages, seizures…) or encumbrances registered against the property.

Normally, Notaries can also be hired to register the new Deeds in the Land Registry and to pay taxes on your behalf.

d) Signing the Deeds:

This will be the last step when buying a property. As we mentioned before, it will be done at the Notary Office. The Notary will check the identities of everyone, that the property has no charges against it and that the payment method is clear. Normally, before the Notary starts reading through the Deeds, you will receive a draft of it. It will be in Spanish so the translator and your lawyer will read it for you and translate it. You should make sure that your personal details are right (the Notary will check your names and if the passport and NIE number are correct). You should be present this day or you could sign a power of attorney on behalf of your lawyer. If you are a couple buying, you could also give power of attorney to the other, in case only one of you can be present at the Notary.

Buying with a power of attorney is very common amongst foreign buyers.

Your lawyer will draft the POA in English and Spanish and send it to you. You should print it and take it to a Notary in your country for signing it. Once you have signed it, you should authenticate the document by requesting the Apostille Certificate (your Spanish Lawyer should inform you on how to do it).

Once the Notary has read through the Deeds and checked that everything is correct, he/she will ask the seller and buyer to sign the Deeds. At this moment you should pay to the seller and you should receive the keys of your new property.

e) Final Payment:

The outstanding amount for the property price should be paid when signing the Deeds. In Spain the common way to do it is paying by banker’s draft. This type of draft blocks the amount in the account so the draft will always have funds. Other way of doing it is by bank transfer. When paying by bank transfer, you should bring to the Notary the transfer receipt to prove to the Notary that you paid. The seller will also have to acknowledge receipt of the property price.

If you are buying the property from a non-resident, you have to withhold the 3% of the price and pay it to the Spanish Tax Office.

Once you have signed the Deeds you will receive a copy from the Notary called copia simple. This document will be unsigned but it will be an exact copy of the signed Deeds. The original signed Deeds will be ready to pick up once the Land Registry has changed the ownership title on their records (this can last up to 3 months since the Land Registry received the document).

Before you leave the Notary office, you will receive an invoice with a provision of funds that will include the Notary Fees, Land Registry Fees, Taxes and Management Fees. You will have one month to pay this. If you don’t complete payment in 30 days, you will receive a fine for not paying taxes on time.

-Deeds registration

The Notary will immediately inform the Land Registry that you are the new owner and the Land Registry will block the property so no charges can be registered against your new property (charges against former owners). However, you will have to send the signed Deeds to the Registration Office to register ownership. After that, you will be the legal owner of the property. The Deeds cannot be registered in the Land Registry until every tax is paid. Once this is done, the Deeds will be returned to the Notary, and, as we mentioned before, the Land registry can last up to three months.

Now that you have decided what property to buy and before you pay any reserve deposits, it is the right time for finding independent legal advice.

Normally, real estate agents offer their own legal advice, but it is important to find someone who will be on your side.

Probably you will not have any trouble and the real estate agent will tell you the truth about the property, but it is better to be cautious and try to avoid any problems in the future, than solving them once you have bought the property.

We don’t want to scare you but in Spain, especially in coastal areas and in the countryside, there have been many properties built illegally (without licenses) and many buyers found about that once they bought the property. One of the main problems of buying an illegal property is that the water and electricity company might not be able to supply your house with water and electricity; this is why we advise you to be careful with that.

Our property purchase service offers:

  • Direct contact with the real estate agent
  • Checking if the property is legal, its ownership and that planning permits are in order
  • Making sure that there are no tenants
  • Checking if there are mortgages, seizures or charges against the property
  • Checking that there are no unpaid taxes
  • Checking that all bills for utilities have been paid for the last few years
  • Drawing up, revising and signing the reserve contract
  • Finding a Notary office for signing the purchase Deeds (escritura de compraventa)
  • Accompanying you to the Notary with a certified translator for signing the Deeds (escritura de compraventa) or signing the Deeds on your behalf with a power of attorney
  • Ensuring that taxes are properly paid
  • Assisting you on how to connect utilities in your new property
  • Being your legal advisor during the whole purchase process