Buyer's Guide

Of properties in Northern Spain

Deeds

The fact that what is recorded in the deeds does not exactly match what is being sold is not necessarily a cause for concern. It’s quite common for there to be discrepancies.

Over the years and through various generations, land additions or sales can leave the deeds with some inconsistencies.

This can easily be rectified in the Land Registry and then with the notary as part of the buying process. Although it can sometimes take a few weeks or even months.

Furthermore, inherited properties sometimes have not had the will fully executed, meaning the property isn’t actually in the name of the person selling it, but rather their deceased relative.

This is fine, and the notary ensures in advance that everything is in order. It’s essential to ensure that the fee element relating to executing the will is paid for by the sellers, and it’s not tied to the actual purchase fees.

It should be confirmed that all owners are in agreement to sell. Properties can often have multiple owners because they’ve been inherited, and Spanish law divides the property among all immediate descendants.

Search

The market is relatively slow, making it somewhat buyer-friendly; there’s no rush. Consider your key criteria, including how and for what the house will be used in the short, medium, and long term; it might change over time.

Property

There can sometimes be quite a bit of room for negotiation on the selling price. There are many properties on the market, but it’s important to carefully sift through to find the most suitable ones. What’s crucial are the aspects that can’t be changed: the location, the surroundings, the orientation, and the access. If the house, in general terms, is what you’re looking for, but perhaps the interior isn’t exactly as you’d like, that can be changed; don’t be discouraged by unappealing interior colors.

In terms of budget, whatever level you’re at, consider allocating three-quarters of it to the purchase, leaving the rest for some minor work to have the house and garden exactly as you wish. Additionally, the perfect house doesn’t exist; in the end, you have to make a decision and commit.

Trip

While you visit to view properties, you should also spend part of your time enjoying your stay here; taking advantage of what the area has to offer, whether it’s grilled fish restaurants, mountain walks, spending time on the beach, or horseback riding through the forest. After all, that’s why you’re considering buying a house.

Legal representation

Instead of having representation for both the seller and the buyer, as in some countries, the purchase process is organized by the real estate agency but is carried out through a notary, who is impartial and is in a position to ensure that the legal purchasing process is conducted correctly. The real estate agency can address any other issues and appoint a property lawyer if necessary.

Documentation

Copy
This initial exchange agreement (earnest money contract) can be executed via email and does not require the buyer’s presence. On the day of completion and final signing of the deeds, the buyer must be present. On the same day, a draft copy of the deeds will be issued (simple copy), but the actual new deeds may take a few weeks to be prepared.
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Purchase Tax

There is a purchase tax, usually ranging from 8 to 10% of the final price, depending on the amount (less than 300, 300-500, over 500 thousand euros). In addition, there is an annual property owner’s tax (IBI – Property Tax) that is paid monthly, typically amounting to a few hundred euros per year

Fees

The purchase of a property involves property registration and notary fees, which can amount to around 1000-2000 euros in total. The Property Registry usually takes a certain amount and then refunds a portion after calculating the exact charge. Real estate agency fees are typically paid by the seller and are usually a minimum of 3%.

Banking

Not all banks are fully up to date with international transfers. This is partly due to the fact that many of the local banks, known as ‘cajas,’ were forcibly acquired by national banks as corrective measures after the 2008 recession to address the so-called toxic debt. This means that transfers go through a holding account, which is not a problem per se but can cause delays. The transferred amounts can also be substantial.

Recent changes in anti-money laundering laws mean that the source of funds must be indicated, and larger amounts may be subject to an auditing process. Amounts under 100,000 euros usually experience fewer delays. Therefore, it’s generally better to have a Spanish account with a larger bank, such as Santander or BBVA, and keep that account in regular use. Transfer the money well in advance, in stages if necessary, so that the bank can easily issue a bank draft for the completion of the sale on the day before the property’s finalization.

Property ownership

There is no issue in purchasing and owning property in Spain. All you need is an identification number (NIE – Foreigner Identification Number), which can be obtained at the main police station in each province (Asturias – Gijón or Oviedo, depending on the property’s location. It’s necessary to schedule a prior appointment).

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