Are you thinking about investing in a property off the plan in Spain? Many investors and future homeowners consider buying an off-plan property, attracted by the possibility of having a tailor-made home. Unfortunately, sometimes they overlook some risks involved in the operation.

This short guide may help you to buy your dream home in Spain in all safety.

Please, note that this is just some general information about the process and that it might not apply in your case. We strongly recommend you get proper legal advice before you buy a property in Spain.

DO YOU NEED A LAWYER TO BUY A PROPERTY OFF THE PLAN IN SPAIN?

Investing in real estate in another country can be confusing. An independent lawyer may assist you and make sure that your investment is safe.  They will also help you with contracts, bureaucracy and local peculiarities that may sound weird to you.

For more than ten years, we have guided hundreds of international clients through the process of buying off-plan property in Murcia and Alicante. As independent solicitors, we take care of matters such as:

– Check that the developers are the plot’s owners and that they have a Building Licence.

– Verify that the developer has a Bank Guarantee to cover your payments.

– Review your contract to make sure that all the clauses are legal.

– Sort out all the necessary procedures: NIE, bank account, etc

– Follow up with the developer: due payments, Licence of First Occupation, Notary appointments to sign the deed upon delivery, etc.

– Assistance after completion: taxes, insurance, utilities, etc.

WHAT TO EXPECT WHEN BUYING AN OFF THE PLAN PROPERTY IN SPAIN

When visiting real estate developments, make sure that you get all the information you need. Before making up your mind, feel free to ask the promoter or the real estate agent about:  property’s features, layout, purchase price, items included in the price, deposit and payment plan, delivery date, terms for any extras, community fees, yearly IBI tax, etc.

Did you find a property that matches your requirements? Then, before you sign or pay anything, talk to your solicitor. They will verify that everything is legal: Reservation and/or Purchase contracts, Land Registry Certificate, Building Licence, Bank Guarantee, etc.

1. 1st Payment: Once your lawyer clears the legal details, you will have to sign the purchase contract and pay a holding deposit, which is usually non-refundable.

2. Stage Payments: Before completion, there will be several stage payments. Before you sign the contract, carefully check the amounts to pay and the instalments’ due dates.

3. Final Payment: Upon delivery date, you will sign the Deed at the Notary and pay the remaining amount. If you are not in Spain then, your solicitor may arrange things to sign for you.

We advise you to visit your property during the building process. Check that everything goes as you requested: floors, wall paint, extras, etc. If you are not around, send someone you trust and ask them to send you pictures or videos.

Upon completion and before you sign the Deed, carefully check the property in search of defects.  Make a snagging list with any problem you find and send it to the promoter and your real estate agent. Snagging lists are available only for one year, so you should do it as soon as possible.

Builders are committed by law to offer a 10-year guarantee for new build properties. However, it is easier to get defects fixed while the builders are still working on-site and they have not received the full payment.

THINGS THAT MAY SURPRISE YOU WHEN BUYING AN OFF-PLAN PROPERTY IN SPAIN

– Delays on the delivery. Often, the purchase contract includes a clause allowing several months of delay upon the delivery date.  Also, if the delay exceeds the allowed period, you may take legal actions.

– Bureaucracy. There is a time buffer of several weeks between the moment the house is finished and the delivery date. It is so because the Town Hall must inspect and approve the development. Afterwards, they will issue the Licence of First Occupation.

– Stage payments. Before completion, you will pay several instalments. Make sure that you have the requested funds available on every due date. Often, the contract states that any delays in the payments may result in a breach of the contract. Usually, promoters are reasonable people, and they will not immediately proceed to resolve it. However, you need to be aware that you risk losing your property if you are late on your payments.

– Taxes and fees. When budgeting for your dream home in Spain, do not forget to set money aside for taxes and various fees: VAT, Stamp Duty, Notary, Land Registry, Banking costs, etc.

– Community fees. A house in a resort with swimming pools, a golf course or gardens involves community fees, and they may be expensive. Make sure to ask about them before you sign the contract.

These are some of the most relevant points you need to consider when buying an off the plan property in Spain. However, the best piece of advice we can give you is this one: check with an independent lawyer before you sign or pay anything. It might save you lots of trouble.

We hope that you find this short guide useful. If you are thinking about buying a new-built or off the plan property in Spain, contact us at info@lssolicitors.es and we will be glad to help you.