Buying a house in Spain

relocation process

Having a good idea of how the buying process works in Spain is the best way to avoid surprises and do endless paperwork. The purchase itself or the transfer of ownership requires a thorough knowledge of the Spanish legal language and regional regulations.


  • Request a NIE number (Spanish tax number).
  • Open a bank account.
  • If you expect to require a mortgage, please request all documents that you would need for a mortgage application. Some requests for documentation may take some time and this would save time later in the buying process.


The house search

  • Visit as many homes as you can.
  • Take someone who can accompany you during the visits; someone who speaks good Spanish, for a second opinion and asking questions.
  • Estate agent:
    • View the real estate agent´s reviews.
    • Compare prices between the real estate agents; it is possible that the same house is offered at different prices at different real estates.
    • See if the real estate agency has a permanent office and is affiliated with an industry organization.


The purchase of the house:

  • Lawyer: Never use the lawyer of the real estate agent but look for an independent lawyer. In most cases the lawyer asks 1% of the purchase as compensation for his services. The lawyer must verify all papers to:
    • to see that the seller is the owner and has the right to sell it.
    • to check whether there are no outstanding costs on the property by requesting the “note simple” from the land register, among other things.
  • Request documents:
    • If the house is situated in the countryside, the owner must show a DAFO certificate (Declaración de Asimilado a Fuera de Ordenación).
    • A “Licencia de Primera Ocupación” or “Cédula de Habitabilidad: these papers state that it is possible to live in the house and that the electrical and sanitary systems have been installed correctly.
    • The energy performance certificate, indicating what the average energy consumption of the house is under normal circumstances. This certificate is mandatory and must be issued by a certified technician.
    • Outstanding bills (water, electricity, common costs of housing, property tax (IBI): ask the owner for copies of the paid accounts of the house, showing that everything has been paid, so that you are sure that there are no outstanding debts.
  • Mortgage application: If you do not have sufficient financial resources to finance a real estate object, you can decide to apply for a mortgage. In order not to waste time, it is important that you have already requested all the necessary personal documentation in advance so that you can initiate the mortgage application together with the papers of the future home.


  • Provisional purchase contract: In order to reserve the house and remove it from the market, a provisional purchase contract (pre contracto) or reservation contract between the parties is concluded. This contract is a summary of the final purchase contract and must therefore contain all relevant details such as the description of the property, the price, method of payment and payment date etc. In the provisional deed of sale you must pay a deposit of 10% of the purchase price.


  • Final purchase contract: The transfer of the property takes place at the notary’s office, on the date agreed in the provisional purchase contract. The lawyer and notary will have prepared all necessary paperwork to legally transfer the property to the buyer. The purchase contract (compra venta) must be signed by the parties in the presence of the notary. This contract includes the names of the seller and buyer, the agreed price, the date of completion and a full description of the property. Upon completion, the buyer is obliged to pay the remainder of the amount and the seller must transfer the keys to the buyer and the house must be empty so that the buyer can withdraw, unless otherwise agreed. In the event that the buyer expects to be abroad at the time of the execution of the deed, the buyer can give the lawyer a power of attorney to sign the purchase deed on his behalf.


  • Registration property: Once the transaction has been completed, the buyer must register the property with the Land Registry. Usually this is done by the lawyer of the lawyer. You have to take into account about 6% -10% expenses.


Taxes and expenses after buying a house in Spain

  • Property tax (IBI, “impuesto sobre bienes inmobiliarios”) is paid once a year. This tax depends on the cadastral value of the property and also the municipality in which the property is located.
  • If the buyer is resident in Spain, it will be necessary to calculate the global income and also the income generated in Spain. Up to this income, any rental income is also counted. This makes it possible to know whether and how much income tax (IRPF) must be paid.
  • If the buyer is a non-resident, the person must pay the non-resident tax once a year. If the owner leases the property as a non-resident, he must also declare the rental income.

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