Pitfalls when buying Property in Spain

Buying real estate is always a time consuming process, and abroad it is sometimes also risky. And it’s not just that you can become a victim of fraudsters and lose money, but that in Spain there are some kind of “pitfalls” completely legal, entailing, at first, the costs from the buyer. On the basis of practice and our own experience, we have compiled a short list of only a few important points that need to be bared in mind when buying a house, apartment or land in Spain. When purchasing a secondary real estate, the buyer is also expected by some pitfalls that sellers are in no hurry to report before signing the deal. In the absence of his own lawyer, the buyer may not realize that the house or apartment is still officially under arrest or is still not legalized.

Who is the owner of the property

Of course, the answer to this question is fundamental to the transaction. If in doubt, it is better to immediately forget about it and go to a transparent and clear object. How to find out who is the owner? In most cases, a realtor who is interested in making a deal as soon as possible will introduce you to Nota Simple, but few know that this paper is for informational purposes only, which is indicated at the end of the document. The actual information about the ownership of all real estate objects is stored only in the Property Register, where it is worth asking for a certificate with the necessary data. If the transaction does not take place directly from the seller, it is important to ascertain whether the representative has authority from the owner, including if the seller is a legal entity who must have all powers of attorney.
A separate important point is the purchase of real estate from a couple. If they have equal rights to it – on the basis of jointly acquired property, then according to Spanish law, even if the apartment is recorded on one of the spouses, both must be present at the transaction. The potential buyer must inquire whether the property is shared or separate.

Are there any burdens

When buying a property, the buyer, along with the keys, can also receive encumbrances, about which the seller has kept silent. In Spain, debts and bans are assigned to the object. In order to avoid this situation, it is necessary to apply to the register for a certificate, which will indicate what kind of encumbrances lie on the object – this could be a mortgage, a fine, an arrest of property, etc. For example, in the case of a mortgage, a certificate is taken from the bank, which calculates the amount to be paid off the mortgage on the day of sale, thus, on the day of sale you will need to make sure that after the transaction, the seller has deposited the missing amount into the account from the object of purchase.
There is nothing terrible in acquiring real estate in a mortgage, since on the day of the transaction a separate check is made for the amount of the mortgage, which the seller then deposits to the bank, and the bank removes the encumbrance. BUT it is important to monitor this, as well as the fact that in such a transaction the seller paid the notary fees for deleting the mortgage from the register of owners.

Whether contributions are paid by the partnership of owners

One of the current clients of Pro Spain consulting spoke about the incident that occurred with him when he bought his first property in Spain without a lawyer: the next year after the purchase, he had to pay 9,000 euros to paint the facade of the house. It turned out that this instalment was planned before the purchase was signed, and for some reason the seller “forgot” to warn about this “insignificant” nuance.
Before acquiring, you should familiarize yourself with the Charter in order to understand the rules of living in a partnership, because it is not always possible to install, for example, an air conditioner in an apartment without the permission of all neighbours (as this may modify the facade of the building). And also find out the size of current expenses and find out how much you will have to pay monthly to Comunidad (community), as well as a plan for future expenses, the budget of the partnership for the next year. Check in what relationship is the seller with his neighbours, whether he pays all the contributions, whether there are no applications for him to the municipality from other neighbours.

What is the technical condition of the building where the object is located?

According to Spanish law, in buildings older than twenty years, technical inspections must be carried out once a decade. There is no such rule for more modern structures, therefore it is in the interests of the buyer to make sure of his condition, so as not to buy a “cat in a bag” and instead of enjoying the purchase, spend money on repairs or reconstruction. At a minimum, if possible, you should come and look around yourself. Although, as practice shows, at first glance it is difficult to say that there is something wrong with the building, especially if the buyer is attracted by price, location, or it is limited in time. Therefore, you should not rely on our Russian “maybe”, but invite an experienced person who is knowledgeable in construction and who is not interested in selling or purchasing an object.

What is the technical condition of the object of purchase?

Of course, not only the building, but the apartment itself can hide technical flaws. It would seem that such a critical one can be expected that it is impossible to fix it with a cosmetic one, or in the extreme case – with a major overhaul? An example from real life: when buying a luxury apartment on the coast, buyers wrote off the faint smell of dampness because no one lived in it for several months. In fact, this turned out to be an unsolvable problem – in an unknown area of ​​the sewage drain there is a gap from which the smell constantly penetrates into the cavities of the building riser and through ventilation, the sockets fall into one of the rooms. Subsequently, experts from different areas were called, but the verdict is the same – the smell can be eliminated only if you find the place from which it penetrates, and for this you need to break the walls along the riser on all floors. Therefore, even if evidence is shown to you that a major overhaul was carried out in the building, the most competent option would be to invite an expert or an architect or an experienced builder to analyse it to try to find something that is not noticeable to the inhabitant, including cracks, mould, moisture. in the walls and floor, ventilation failure, etc. If a repair has been recently made, make sure that they did not try to hide something with it, check the pressure in the pipes, the electrical wiring, the condition of the drains.

Does the area match the documents and in reality?

A very common phenomenon, to such an extent that realtors will assure you that this is absolutely normal. According to the Law, a discrepancy of up to 10% between the value indicated in the register and the area in reality is allowed. You ask – why is this important? First, the most innocuous – perhaps you overpay property tax (IBI). And secondly, it is no longer innocuous – the new owner may receive a penalty for inaccurate data, especially if an unauthorized construction or redevelopment of an apartment is detected, which, as a rule, most often causes discrepancies in the meter. How to find out? It is necessary to compare the areas that are specified in the cadastral plan and the property register, and you can also call a technical specialist to determine the exact size of the object (apartment or land and its borders) – the architect.

Estimated minimum cost of the object

Knowing the approximate minimum value of an object in a selected place is useful, since it may depend on the value of the tax on the transfer of property rights (impuesto de transmisiones patrimoniales).

Are all buildings on the land legalized

When buying a land plot, it is necessary to check in the municipality, the cadastre, as well as the Property Register which buildings on it are registered and legal, and whether this is true. It may be found, for example, that a swimming pool or garage is built without official permission, that an administrative process for “unlawful” objects (Expediente sancionador) is listed behind the object, and this threatens with significant fines. In addition, the buyer must request from the seller data on the availability of evidence confirming the suitability of the property for residence. Buying a plot in Spain, it makes sense to ensure that there are no obligations to clean contaminated soil. If land has ever been used for an activity (for example, industrial) that can pollute the soil, then it is subject to the law, imposing a ban on construction on polluted soil. In the best case, you will have to take actions to clean it. The buyer can get information about this in the land registry.

As for new buildings

A separate block in the list of pitfalls is to allocate new buildings, although, at first glance, they “do not portend trouble.”
For example, we recommend to make sure that the building itself was built in accordance with the Law on fractional construction, all necessary licenses for construction were received, as well as a certificate of fitness for residential premises (La cédula de habitabilidad), a license for the suitability of a new building for living ( La licencia de primera ocupación), city fees are paid, and the object is insured. In the event that the building is constructed on land recently included in the city plan, that is, urbanized, it is important to understand what expenses are therefore incurred and, accordingly, must be paid. Since in Spain it is customary to assign expenses to an object, it is very likely that the seller will wish to shift their burden onto the shoulders of the new owner. You can insure yourself against these extra costs
If it turns out that not all fees are included in the budget? What are the consequences of non-payment? First, when the mandatory fees have not been paid and the certificates listed have not been received, bans and encumbrances may be imposed on real estate, and the owner will not be able to conclude contracts for electricity, water, etc.
We also recommend saving all information, including advertising, provided by the seller, which contains data about the object – description of conditions, equipment, advantages, obligations, even what is not specified in the contract – in disputable points these details may be useful to you. .

The list of pitfalls can be continued for quite some time. To all of the above, you can safely add language difficulties, the difference of mentalities, a kind of Spanish style of doing business, to comply with the agreement. In fact, behind every property in Spain, because of the difficulty of obtaining all kinds of permits, even for local residents there can be a whole iceberg of surprises that are very easy to find, but which you can’t figure out for yourself without professional legal support and qualified advice. And as the experience of our clients suggests, the services of lawyers and attorneys have paid for themselves many times, not to mention a significant reduction in financial expenses by optimizing the transaction process and saving their precious time and nerves.

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