Buying property in Spain (The reservation agreement)

Before purchasing a property in Spain, you are strongly advised to contact a local and independent lawyer who can assist you throughout the process, and who will ensure that your money and your rights are fully protected. Your lawyer can, and must: verify the legal capacity of the sellers, developers and other intermediaries; write or check each and every document that needs to be signed and which may commit your interests; ensure that all legal requirements are met; and make sure that the property is free of any debts, liens or encumbrances. Local lawyers not only know the applicable legislation, but they also know the area and any potential problems, as well as having an insight on the advantages of one option over another, so their knowledge will prove to be very useful. At Vicente & Otaolaurruchi we will be glad to help you throughout the process of purchasing your property in Spain.

Our first advice is that you enlist the assistance of a reputable Real Estate agent company working in the area so that they can help you choose the perfect property to meet your requirements and expectations. The intervention of an agent will save you time, money and unpleasant surprises. A property is not just bricks and mortar: there are other aspects, such as neighbours, position, closeness to sports facilities or health centres, safety and security, access, etc., that are also relevant when choosing a home.

Once you have selected a property, it is advisable to pay a deposit and sign a reservation document. The deposit, or down-payment, is usually a small amount (between 3,000 and 10,000 Euros) that is held by the seller’s lawyer or estate agency and which is used to guarantee the purchase and take the property off the market, as well as freezing the price. It is important to stress that, should the purchasers decide not to proceed with the purchase, they will not get the deposit back, except where there is express agreement otherwise, such as where the purchaser does not obtain the necessary financing or where problems arise of a legal or urban development nature that advise against the purchase.

To this effect, we strongly recommend that our clients, before signing a reservation document with an estate agent or directly with an individual seller, always send said document to us so that we can check it and give it our approval. Although the specific conditions of the agreement will be defined in the private purchase-sale contract, some fundamental aspects will already be set out in the reservation document, such as deadlines, price, expenses, etc. and they must be respected thereafter.

The deposit is normally paid by credit card or bank transfer. Cheques and cash payments are not usually accepted, in the latter case due to current legal restrictions.

Next: Survey of the property and negotiation of the terms of the contract

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