The first part of the buying process in Spain, is to remember that all buyers need to obtain their NIE numbers (Número de Identidad de Extranjero). (An NIE Number is an identification number used in Spain for all foreigners. Prior to purchasing a property, selling a property, obtaining a mortgage, buying or selling a car or boat, starting up a business or working in Spain, it is a requirement by law for every individual to hold an NIE Number.) This can be applied for personally at the national police stations, it can be applied for with your lawyer (this is the most usual), or it can be applied for at the Spanish Embassy in your own country.
Secondly, after deciding on the area that you want to live, choose a well-established estate agent with extensive experience and a professional approach. Only use an estate agent with an office that is open to the public, where you can meet and carefully discuss your requirements. Please note that the buyer never pays commission to an estate agent in Andalucía.
Once you have decided which property you want to buy, you will have to sign a reservation contract to reserve the property. It is normal at this time to also pay a reservation deposit starting at €3,000 and increasing accordingly with the value of the property. This contract and deposit will normally reserve the property for you for between 14 and 28 days, whilst your lawyer carries out his searches and enquiries on the property. If any legal problems arise with the property, your reservation deposit should be 100% refundable. If you have a good lawyer that is well recommended, the buying procedure in Spain is very safe. You should use a Spanish lawyer that also speaks your own language.
When your lawyer has carried out his due diligence and you are happy with the results of his enquiries, it is then time to sign a Private Purchase Contract and pay a 10% deposit. The vendor will also sign this contract and both parties are then fully committed. The contract will detail any and all conditions of the sale and purchase (compraventa), and will include things such as the final completion date and inventories etc.
Completion is usually 14 to 28 days after the signing of the Private Purchase Contract, but can be extended by agreement before the PPC is signed.
Completion always takes place at the notary, who is a highly qualified lawyer that is representing the Spanish Government, and who ensures that every transaction takes place securely and correctly, and that all due taxes are paid. The notary is there to protect the buyer and seller from any irregularities or errors, and to ensure a satisfactory result for all. Your lawyer and estate agent will also attend the notary appointment with you. At the notary appointment you will pay the balance of the purchase money, sign the new escritura (property deed), and the keys will be handed over to you ready for you to start your new life in Spain.
Approximate buying costs in Andalucía, Spain.
Please allow up to approximately 11% of the purchase price of the property for your buying costs. (8% purchase/transfer tax, 1% legal fees, 1% notary fees and 1% for disbursements, search and registry fees etc.) It will be approximately 2% more if you are buying the property with a mortgage.
Please remember that this is just a basic guide, and there is a lot more work that occurs behind the scenes, and having a good estate agent and lawyer, will ensure that the transaction goes according to plan, and you have peace of mind and security at all times.