In the UK, lawyers have a bit of a PR problem. No one really wants one. But they can make the difference in whether you secure your dream Spanish property when you see it. Don’t be put off appointing a Spanish lawyer early in your property search.
The Spanish property market is strong and vendors will go with the buyer who is both well-organised and has the money. So, if you’re serious about buying a Spanish property, here are 5 reasons why it is imperative to get a capable Spanish lawyer in your corner early on.
- Make sure your Spanish lawyer is 100% independent
The principal job of a solicitor is to protect you, your money and your interests. Make sure that your solicitor is only acting for you on the transaction and no other party. Don’t feel pressured to use a solicitor that is recommended to you just because it is convenient. With a lawyer in place before you find the property you want to buy, you avoid making a decision you may regret later on
- Use your lawyer to give you breathing space
With a lawyer in place, when it comes to signing a reservation contract and handing over the initial deposit you can say you prefer to do this via your lawyer. You pay the deposit to your Spanish lawyer, they make some basic checks that the property is safe and legal, review and translate the reservation contract and then pass the deposit monies on. You can see how your interests are already being protected.
- Use a solicitor that is established and is listed on independent websites.
Independent listings are not necessarily endorsements or recommendations, but can be a good indication that the law firm is reputable. Two such sources of independent Spanish lawyers for English buyers are the UK Government FCDO list and A Place in the Sun. Make sure that the law firm is registered with the General Council of Spanish Lawyers and is insured.
- It pays to use a lawyer who is local.
The Spanish system is heavily localised, so it pays to use a lawyer in the town nearby to where you are buying. The Spanish legal system has notaries who certify legal documents and a lawyer will frequently be shuttling between their office, the town hall (Ayuntamiento) and the notary.
- Arrange to meet your lawyer on your first viewing trip
When you visit Spain for a viewing trip (either independently or with an agent) make an appointment to meet a lawyer in the area you intend to buy. Your first consultation/meeting should always be free. At the meeting ask all of the questions you need to. The replies you get will help you form a view on their suitability to advise you. Expect to be informed about NIE numbers, bank account and Power of Attorney. A lawyer will tell you it is beneficial to get these three things set up early in the Spanish property buying process
- Power of Attorney. Granting your Spanish lawyer certain powers to act on your behalf throughout the purchase process.
- NIE Number. A foreigner’s fiscal number essential if you are to conduct any official business in Spain like buying a property, car etc.
- Spanish bank account
Ask how much it will cost to set these up. For a couple, expect to pay in the region of €500 + VAT and you will usually be asked to pay this on account. Regarding the legal conveyancing service itself, 1% of the purchase price is typical (plus VAT). More exclusive properties may cost a little more.
Buying a property in Spain is exciting but also daunting because of the language barrier and the different (more bureaucratic) system. That’s why it is important to assemble the team that will help and support you through the buying process and a Spanish lawyer is a key player.