The Formal offer
The first step is an ‘option contract’ and usually requires you to pay 10% of the full purchase price of the property in advance of proceeding further with the process and commits both buyer and vendor to the sale.
If for whatever reason the buyer does not decide to go through with the sale of the property deposit may be non-refundable. If however, the vendor pulls out of the process they usually have to refund the deposit plus another 10% of the purchase price to the potential buyer. Your lawyer or ‘abogado’ will usually work very hard to ensure the sale goes through and provide translations of all contracts if and when required. This rule exists to prevent spurious offers and gazumping
If you are an overseas purchaser an NIE number must be held by to buy anything such as a house, car or even a mobile phone contract for example. You will also need to provide certified copies of identification, and usually your passport. It is a good idea to always hold the original documents with any paperwork requirements for Spain, and also hold copies as many government offices can stall the paperwork process if these are not available.
(The NIE is a tax identification number in Spain, known in Spanish as the NIE, or more formally the Número de identidad de extranjero. The Spanish government have linked the NIE number to residence, where the NIE appears on the tarjeta de residencia (residence card), and to social security in Spain.
Finance or Payment
It is a good idea to investigate your mortgage options (If you are not a cash buyer) as early as possible. You will also need a Spanish bank account to run your property bills, local taxes (such as IBI and Basura etc). Your lawyer can advise you with regard to reputable banks if you are not sure about whom to go with or who can provide the best interest rate. They will also liaise directly with the bank on your behalf to monitor the progress of your mortgage and help you with the required paperwork.
As with all purchases of significant value it is very important to ensure that the property that you are buying is legally checked to ensure it is for example; officially owned by the vendor, has no debts against it, and is fully legalised with the relevant permissions. Your lawyer will check this to help ensure that you are not buying a property with any problems.
Taxation can be quite a complicated issue in Spain and the rules change regularly. As a “rule of thumb” you should allow approximately 10% in addition to the purchase price for all costs and taxes your lawyer will advise you specifically. It is worth noting that ‘bargain properties’ may be subject to additional retrospective taxes if the government deems that the purchase price is too low based on the “Escritura” or Deed value. Taxes differ slightly for resale and new properties so please check with your Lawyer the specific tax relating to the property to be well informed in advance.
Importantly, Spanish law requires that all parties be present with the official “notary” for the final exchange of contracts, including any banks involved with mortgages held by the buyer or seller. All funds need to be paid at the same time and all paperwork must be correct or the sale will not go through. If you are unsure if you can be present for the final date you may opt to give your lawyer power of attorney to act on your behalf. You should also note that buying a new property ‘off plan’ is slightly different and often requires payments in stages.
After the completion of the property there is a relative amount of paperwork that needs to be completed to; transfer the utilities, payments for community charges, Local IBI and Basura charges. Sometimes this will be done by your estate agent and sometimes by your lawyer or a ‘gestoria’. Unless you are very familiar with Spain and speak Spanish you will need this help!
We hope you have found this simple guide useful, but please be aware that this is a guide and Homes In Mallorca does not provide official legal advice, therefore you should always consult a Lawyer when buying a property in Spain.