Who’s Who When You Buy Property in Spain

Spanish rental contacts

Buying property in Spain involves certain professionals. Not all of them are essential to the buying process, but you will come across most of them.

In this article, we look at who’s who when you buy Spanish property.

Estate agent

Perhaps the first person you’ll come across when you start your search for property in Spain. Spain has thousands of estate agencies (agencias inmobiliarias) and estate agents (agente inmobiliario).

Services tend to include providing property information, showing you round properties and assisting in the purchase process.

Estate agents should be registered with a professional association (API or GIPE) – ask to see their credentials if you’re in any doubt.

Avoid agents without a registered office. Agents charge between 5 and 10% commission on a sale, which is included in the purchase price and therefore, effectively paid by you, the buyer.

Estate agents are generally not qualified to give legal advice, which you should take from a professional lawyer (see below). Beware of an agent who suggests legal loopholes.

Top tip – if time is short or you’re looking for a very specific property, consider hiring the services of a property finder rather than an estate agent.

Lawyer

Lawyers (abogados) specialising in property law abound in Spain, particularly in areas popular with foreign buyers where you’ll probably have a choice of professionals speaking your language.

A lawyer forms a vital part of the property purchase process and you should contract the services of one as soon as you find a property you’d like to buy.

Role of your lawyer

Your lawyer is the most important person in the purchase process and key to its success.

Not only will your lawyer check the legality of the property before you buy and draft the all-important pre-purchase contract, they also ensure that the title deeds are in order before you sign them at the notary.

Choosing a lawyer

The best way to find a good lawyer is to ask for personal recommendations. Reputable property websites include listings of the best professionals.

Choose a lawyer who speaks your language clearly, has proven experience in property law and is registered with the appropriate lawyers’ association.

All registered lawyers have indemnity insurance to protect your interests – ask to see proof of registration.

Make sure your lawyer is independent and acts in your interests only. Be wary of recommendations by an estate agent – their designated lawyer may well be working for them rather than you.

Fees

Spanish regulations don’t set a fixed fee for legal services for property purchase, although in practice, most lawyers charge at least 1% of the purchase price.

Shop around to compare fees and services – a small practice may charge more, but you may get better personal attention.

Notary

The notary (notario) plays an important role in buying property in Spain. The notary prepares the title deeds (escrituras), which you sign at the notary’s office.

They are also responsible for checking the identity of the buyer and seller and the property registration number, and verifying payment.

Although a notary should point out legal pitfalls, they do not provide legal advice; that is your lawyer’s job.

Note that notaries rarely speak good English and don’t provide an English translation of the title deeds. This should be done by your lawyer.

Gestor

A gestor (administrative manager) is an essential part of Spanish life since they act as an intermediary between you and the authorities, solving paperwork and bureaucracy issues.

Using their services always saves time and almost all Spaniards employ one at some point.

When you’re buying a property, your lawyer will probably employ a gestor to pay taxes on your behalf and register the property in your name.

A gestor is also useful for setting up direct debit payments on your behalf.

Top tip – use a gestor for all your Spanish paperwork. Ask around for recommendations.