Buying a property on the Costa del Sol
Spain’s laidback lifestyle, affordable cost of living, and breath-taking coastlines attracts buyers from around the globe. It’s no surprise that so many nationalities seek to have a base in this Mediterranean paradise, whether on a permanent basis, as an investment or simply a holiday home.
However, whilst buying a property in your home country can be daunting, buying a property overseas where the laws, customs and language are unfamiliar can seem completely overwhelming. Whilst the principles of purchase are likely to be very similar to what you are used to, the process and procedures may seem confusing.
The property market has shifted considerably since the global pandemic. Pent up demand during lockdowns and travel restrictions has resulted in a surge of buyers seeking to purchase property on the Costa del Sol. This has resulted in a huge increase in demand, a diminishing supply of property and increasing prices. Therefore, it’s so important that you work with an agent that’s on your side with their finger on the pulse, to seek out the best possible opportunities during your search.
At Winkworth Spain, we aim to make the buying process as simple, stress-free and enjoyable as possible for all our clients. With our expertise and honest approach, you can relax knowing your Spanish home buying journey will be a breeze.
We’ll guide you through the process so you can make your dream of owning a Spanish property a reality sooner than you imagined.
The buying process
1. Start your online property search
To get a feel for what’s available on the market that match your property wishlist, we suggest starting with your own online property search, exploring properties, areas and familiairising yourself with agents that specialise in zones you wish to focus on.
2. Choose a real estate agent
We recommend you select a real estate agent before planning a trip to Spain for in-person viewings. A qualified and experienced real estate agent will give you the best chance at successfully finding property. By making contact and even meeting an agent via online video conferencing before a potential trip to Spain, you can make the most of your trip. An agent can line up viewing appointments prior to you arriving, so you can view properties immediately. Your real estate agent should:
- Operate legally and ethically
- Offer a professional service with a physical office presence
- Understand you and your individual needs
- Be an expert in their area
- Stay with you throughout the buying journey
3. Securing a mortgage
If you require part of your property purchase to be financed, it’s worth considering mortgage options in advance so that you can set a realistic and affordable budget. You may want to consider releasing equity from your property at home or alternatively looking for a mortgage in Spain. Whilst lenders will not approve a mortgage until they have surveyed the property you wish to buy, you can at least secure an agreement in principle based on your own personal financial circumstances. If you wish to explore mortgage options, speak to us early in your property search so that we can point you in the direction of the best brokers and banks.
4. Viewing properties
Once you have selected an agent and maybe even shortlisted some properties, it’s time to start thinking about visiting and arranging viewings. Visiting properties in person are the best way to truly get a feel for the property you want to purchase. Not only is it about the properties, but also getting a feel for personality and characteristics of different neighbourhoods. We suggest visiting Spain during the off-peak season, so you can get a feel for what the weather is like year-round and experience the country during its slower pace. Real estate agents will be less busy, so you will receive more one-on-one attention. Rather than booking a hotel, consider renting a holiday home in an area you like to gain perspective to what living there is like. Get groceries, cook, and live like a local.
5. Making an offer
So, after all the planning and viewing, you find your perfect place! Fantastic! Your agent will work with you to establish what an acceptable offer is and pitch it on your behalf to the vendors’ agent. It is quite acceptable to make an offer as long as it is a realistic one and that you are prepared to move ahead with the purchase should your offer be accepted.
If your initial offer is not accepted, don’t be disheartened. Discuss with your agent a potential counter offer, based on what they know of the seller. It’s simply a matter of reaching a mutually acceptable price that works for your budget.
6. Appoint a lawyer
You will then need to appoint a lawyer to take care of all the necessary legal matters associated with purchasing a property. We can introduce you to an independent and highly professional lawyer who is fluent in your own language.
If you do not live in Spain and travelling backwards and forwards is inconvenient, you can appoint your lawyer as your Power of Attorney, so they are able to act on your behalf in your absence. However, you will need to attend a Notary (notaria) to sign documents to authorise them to do this.
Once you have appointed a lawyer and advised them of an accepted offer on a property, they will liaise with your Real Estate Agent to begin the purchase proceedings.First and foremost, your lawyer will apply for your N.I.E (Foreigner Identity Number) and arrange the set up of a Spanish bank account, both of which are an essential part of the property buying process. If you already have a mortgage agreement in place, then your account will most likely need to be with your lending bank.
They will then go on to check the contract and deed, perform all legal searches and checks, remind you when payments are due, draft contracts and notify you when it’s time to sign the title deed or sign on your behalf. In Spain, certain aspects of the conveyancing process are completed by a public notary. A notary represents the public, draws up the deed, and witnesses the signatures.
7. Paying your deposit
Once you’ve agreed on a sales price and appointed a lawyer, you can go ahead and formally put down your deposit. You will need to sign a reservation contract and pay a reservation fee usually of €6,000. This will ensure that the property is taken off the market and reserved for you whilst the legal checks are made. Depending on the property you may also need to sign a private purchase contract. In this case, a further 10% deposit is paid to the seller at this time, but your lawyer will negotiate the terms of this contract.
8. Legal checks and safeguards
Once you’ve signed your reservation contract, your lawyer will run through a process to make sure the property is legally owned, debt free, and that bank guarantees are in place (if off-plan). Once the lawyer is satisfied that everything is ok, he or she will ask you to transfer your funds or will liaise with your lender regarding your mortgage.
9. Transferring the balance
You will transfer your funds to your lawyer’s holding account either via your bank or a currency exchange specialist if you are not already in possession of Euros. You can shop around for exchange rates to find the best possible deal for your funds transfer, as even a small fluctuation in rates can make a big difference to the cost of your property.
10. Final checks
When signing the deed, it means that you accept the property in the condition it is in. It’s a good idea to have your agent or solicitor (if you are overseas) check the property to ensure it hasn’t been damaged since you signed the reservation. Take an inventory of the fixtures or fittings that were included in your purchase contract to ensure they are present. If something is missing or not in good working order (as before), you should insist on restitution and in most cases, the notary will delay the signing of the deed until
11. Signing the deed
On the agreed date of completion, you or your power of attorney will sign the title deed at the notary’s office. Once the deed is signed, you will receive the keys to your property and the purchase will be lodged at the land registry office. After registration, the deed is returned to your lawyer and is either returned to you or held by the bank (in the case of a mortgage). The deed is usually returned within one to three months following registration.
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