Seeking and acquiring real estate in Spain
These days, seeking real estate in Spain is mainly done via internet, with www.idealista.com and www.fotocasa.es being the market leaders.
There are also numerous real estate consultants and agents. If going through them, a few points ought to be considered:
- It should be ensured ahead of time that the contracting parties are in agreement as to who pays the agent’s fees (by law, these are to be paid by the seller, but this obligation is often contractually shifted to the buyer)
- Preference should be given to agents well acquainted with the local market
- Care must be taken if the sale itself is effectuated through the agent, as the agent will often collect the down payment on behalf of the seller
- Private written contracts are fully valid under Spanish law and should thus be legally and fiscally vetted.
Legally acquiring real estate requires both an act of sale and a transfer of possession (e.g., handing over the keys). The act of sale determines the rights and obligations of the contracting parties. Neither the notarisation of the contract nor the entry into the land registry are required for the transfer of ownership.
However, once ownership has been transferred to the buyer, the new owner cannot claim acquisition in good faith and is not secured against the claims of third parties.
Only the entry into the land registry confers that kind of security. It is thus common practice in Spain to notarise the act of sale and then enter into the land registry the transfer to the new owner.
Requirements of notarisation
- The purchasing price must be paid in exchange for the notarisation, i.e. before the buyer is secured through entry into the land registry. As explained above, both possession and ownership are transferred before entry into the land registry, which has thus only a declarative effect
- By royal decree 253/2013, owners of real estate must provide an energy certificate for every sale and rent of their property to attest to its energy efficiency.
Requirements of entry into the land registry
- Notarisation of the contract is required, as private contracts cannot be entered into the land registry under Spanish law
- Furthermore, entry into the land registry requires proof of payment of any accrued taxes.
This article is not considered as legal advice