The vendor or Estate Agent will recommend you sign an Option Contract as soon as possible in order to be sure nobody else can buy that property. Don’t play this game. Offer a €500 to €4000 deposit to the vendor to hold the property for a few days (let’s say a week) and to prepare a Option Contract. The vendor has to commit to keeping the property off the market for a few days; the deposit you pay for this will be part of the Option Contract you are going to sign. If the vendor does not agree go to the next point.
Real Estate Agents are efficient and honest, but their main objective is to sell properties as quickly as possible before other agents can do the same. In case they have a conflict of interest, don’t forget they get their commission from the vendor and not from you. So, look for someone who has no other interests than yours.
As your adviser has to investigate important legal issues in local administration and deal with local people (neighbours, community of owners etc.) hire a lawyer who is established in the local area with contacts there. There is no sense hiring a lawyer in Madrid if you are buying a property in Mallorca, or hiring a lawyer who does not speak Spanish or Catalan to deal with the locals and neighbours in rural areas.
What can lawyers do for you?
The day you go to sign the purchase deed in front of a Notary, you must have your Fiscal Identify Number. Without it you cannot pay taxes in Spain. We will apply for one through the Chambers of Lawyers. As this sometimes takes 4 weeks, it is advisable to request one as soon as possible. So, once you are sure you are going to buy a property in Spain, request a NIE number.
We will prepare the Option Contract in Spanish and English. This document –which is binding for both parties – will establish the terms and conditions of the purchase.
We will check:
a) The real ownership of the property. By checking the Property Registry we will find out who the real owner is. We will also identify any third person who has a right to this property as a right of way, right of use, usufruct etc…
b) The legality of the property. Lots of properties, especially in rural areas have illegal parts. If this cannot be checked immediately, we will ask the vendor to prove the legality of the property before signing the purchase deed.
Illegalities are not only in rural areas; your new apartment in town could have an illegal terrace, or a room that was built on a terrace without a licence, or a third person with rights to or interests in the property.
c) Debts. We will check whether the property has any debts with institutions (taxes), easements, mortgages with banks or particulars, or with the Community of Owners. When you have bought a property you are responsible for the debts from the previous three years with the Community of Owners. Therefore, it is very important to be sure all bills have been paid.
Once again, if it is not possible to check this before signing the Option Contract, we will ask the vendor to prove the absence of any debts on the property.
d) Price: If necessary, we can provide you with an appraisal report in order to be sure the price asked by the vendor is in line with the market.
We will prepare a contract outlining the terms and conditions of the future sale. The vendor will prove the legality of the property, deliver all the necessary documents, prove there are no debts, and provide efficiency energetic certificate of the property, as well as the most recent paid-in-full supply receipts, tax receipts etc.
This contract will set the purchase price and date of completion, as well as establishing what will happen in case any party does not comply with the stipulated items in the Purchase Option.
Only YOUR LAWYER will protect your interests and guarantee the return of the option premium if the property is not in perfect condition.
When the Option Contract is signed, you, as the purchaser, have to pay the deposit as the option price. The amount will be set by both parties, but usually it is 5 or 10% of the purchase price. Normally the vendor holds the deposit, but if both parties agree, it can be also held in a notary’s escrow bank account or in a lawyer’s bank account.
The purchase deed is signed in front of a public Notary and the full price is paid at that moment. On the same day the purchaser gets all the documents relating to the property and the keys, and becomes the new owner.
Not yet…Now you can enjoy your new property, but there are still more things to do.
-Registry: Once we got the purchase deed from the Notary it must be sent to the Property Registry, where you will be entered as the new owner. The same goes for the Cadastre. You become the legal owner the day you sign the deed, but in order to make this information public it must be entered in the Property Register and the Cadastre.
-Also, if you buy a property in a complex you need to inform the Community of Owners and provide a bank account number in order to pay the community bills.
-Supplies: The water, power and gas supply contracts must be put in your name as soon as possible.
-Taxes and expenses.
Toni Marqués. Real Estate specialist