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FAQs about buying in Spain

In spite of the negative press attention it has received, Spain still remains as popular as ever for people in search of an overseas property.  Following the recent economic crash, it was inevitable that the market would soon start to pick up as other economies flourished and the number of enquiries I am receiving is now on the increase.

There are some potential bargains to be had at the moment, but they do need to be investigated thoroughly – both legally and structurally.  The problems UK buyers have faced with Spanish property has been well documented in the media and we are all too familiar with images of someone’s property being bulldozed as a result of crooked developers.

Therefore, if you are looking to buy in Spain, I would stress the importance of using an independent lawyer who is not acting for the seller and who is only interested in protecting your position.  I have utilised Judicare’s services for many years and they are specialists in the legal services relating to property and land investments overseas in Spain.

With Spanish enquiries rising, I thought I would share with you the common FAQs people ask Judicare when purchasing there.

Is the legal system in Spain the same as in the UK?

No, they are very different, but there is an interaction between the two jurisdictions in terms of taxes and inheritance.  That is why the best person to advise you on your purchase in Spain, is somebody who understands both Spanish and UK law.

Do I need a lawyer to help me buy in Spain?

Surprisingly this is a common question.  The answer is no, you do not, just like you do not necessarily need a lawyer when buying in the UK.  However, in reality you would always use a lawyer when buying a property in the UK, so there should be no difference about buying in another country where you probably do not have experience of buying before.

I have been told that I do not need a lawyer but need a Notary.  Is this true?

The Notary is important in Spain, but tends only to get involved at the end of the transaction.  Their role is to carry out some basic checks at the end and attend to the signature of the title deed in some cases to register the property.  But the Notary does not normally advise on whether the contract is OK to sign, whether you should pay the deposit, or who should own the property like a lawyer would.

I have heard that there are problems when buying in Spain.  What is the situation?

Certainly there are potential problems when buying in Spain, just like there can be in any country, including the UK.  Most of the potential problems that you read about can be avoided by using common sense and by instructing an independent lawyer to advise you on the purchase.  Judicare often see people who have problems with their property and they invariably tell us that they did not use a lawyer, or used the lawyer given to them by the seller or estate agent.

Are the costs more in Spain than in the UK?

Yes, the total cost in addition to the purchase price are higher than you will be used to in the UK.  It is therefore important to factor these into your budget from the beginning.  Luckily property prices are currently rock bottom which not only reduces some of these costs, but also makes the purchase price much cheaper.

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Details correct when this article was originally posted on February 10, 2014.