Anyone who has been planning their Spanish property purchase over the summer months will be ready to set the wheels in motion as autumn approaches. Your budget’s sorted, your dream location is decided and your viewing trip is booked, but how do you actually go about buying a property in Spain?

Assemble a team of experts

First and foremost, make sure you get a team of property professionals in place prior to your purchase. An independent lawyer should be your priority – one without any connection to the estate agent or developer whose property you are viewing. Also check they are qualified in urbanismo – Spanish land law. Next in your line-up should be a estate agent, followed by a currency specialist who can help you prevent fluctuating exchange rates from increasing the price of your property.

Don’t just choose anyone. Conduct a little research to ensure they are reputable operators: search online property listings sites or overseas property magazines, read online reviews and ask anyone who has done it all before.

Reservation agreement

You’ve found your ideal home in the Spanish sun, so what next? Your agent will request that you sign a reservation agreement to ensure the property is taken off the market at the price you agreed. You will secure the agreement for 30 days once you have made a payment of between €3,000 – €10,000, depending on the price of the property. These funds will be held in an escrow account by the agent or the lawyers they have appointed.

Your lawyer can explain the finer points of this part of the buying process. For example, work with your lawyer to examine the terms of agreement and establish if the deposit is fully refundable if you pull out of the purchase at this stage.

Beautiful mediterranean buildings at the coast of Majorca island, small town of Cala Fornells, Spain Balearic Islands.

What next?

Having signed the reservation agreement you lawyer should:

  • Ensure the seller has the right to sell
  • Ensure there are no debts on the property
  • Ensure the property has planning permission

Contrato de arras

Once your lawyer has verified all of the above the agent will ask you to sign the contrato de arras – the full private purchase contract. This binding contract requires you to pay between 10 to 20% of the purchase price. You will lose your deposit if you pull out at this stage. However, if the seller pulls out they must compensate you double the amount you have paid.

Public Notary

The Public Notary (Notario) will then be introduced into the process. This is a civil servant – not a lawyer – who will oversee the transfer. Both you and the vendor – or their representatives – will be required to attend the notary’s office and sign the Escritura de Compraventa. Having done so all that’s left to do is make the final payment, pay the relevant taxes and arrange the final registration of the title deed –  this is unlikely to be completed before you move into your new home.


Total buying costs will set you back around 8% to 14% of the purchase price, including a transfer tax of up to 10%. If you buy a new build property you will also be required to pay VAT of 10%.

Please note: this is only a brief introductory guide to what can be a complicated process. Therefore, it is strongly advisable to get specialist legal advice when buying property overseas.

If you are ready to buy in Spain download the Spain Buying Guide

Wherever you wish to live in Spain, knowing how to negotiate for your property should get you a little more house for your money! Download our guide: How to Negotiate Abroad.

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