Why Buy in Spain?
Spain has a great variety of landscapes, from mountains and lakes in the north to sandy beaches, olive groves and vineyards in the south. The drive from Burgos in the north-west to Malaga in the south-east takes you through so many different panoramas; you could be forgiven for thinking you are driving through several different countries.
For years the south-eastern Mediterranean coast has been one of Europe's most popular holiday destinations and is the place of choice for most British second homes. However, in recent years the north-west (Galicia) with its craggy shores on the Atlantic is attracting a large amount of attention amongst buyers looking for more rural retreats away from the tourist hubs of the Costas - at more sensible prices.
Spain has many charming and captivating religious festivals, pilgrimages, carnivals and fairs such as 'El dia de los muertos' and the running of the bulls. You will find yourself a part of these festivals as you are carried along by the warmth and enthusiasm of the cheering crowds - sometimes literally!
Only in the last two or three decades, and since Spain's entry into the European Union, have things really begun to move ahead and to modernise. For those who live in the countryside however, life remains quite traditional and unchanged, blissfully so to visitors who look back to a more intimate and unspoilt village life that is long past in most countries.
People are also attracted by the relaxed and slower way of life in Spain and the culinary delights like paella and tortillas are legendary... and affordable. Overall, there are loads of reasons that Spain is the number one destination for Britons buying abroad.
Getting Started - is it possible for you to buy in Spain?
Buying a property and living in Spain is straightforward if you are a national from another EEC (European Economic Community) country. If however, your nationality falls outside the Euro zone you may be able to buy a property but there might be time restrictions as to how long you can stay in the country. Furthermore, there are certain guidelines as to work permits for non EEC nationals. You can find out information pertinent to you by accessing the Spanish Embassy website or through a variety of internet websites. There are also specialist emigration organisations that will often do a free consultation letting you know your options.
To find out more on how to get started on your Spain property buying journey, request a copy of The Overseas Guides Company's Spain Property Buying Guide.
Finance - how much does it cost to buy a property in Spain?
In Spain purchase costs could be 10%+ over and above the purchase price and when considering the dramatic changes in currency exchange rates, this percentage could climb much higher. So, if your property price is £100,000 it could cost £110,000 (or more) by the time you complete and take possession of the property. It's important from the start that you clearly understand how much a property will cost you as this will determine what price range you can look at.
While researching the Internet, attending property trade shows and emailing estate agents, start to investigate what is included in the property price versus what gets added on. In Spain the purchase price includes the estate agency fee (usually 5%, but nowadays maybe 3%). For all property and land, 8% of the purchase price is paid as a transfer tax that goes to the Spanish Treasury. In addition, there are notary fees and a land/property registration fee, which varies according to the purchase price of the property. Also consider solicitors and mortgage fees. Solicitors usually charge 1% of the purchase price + VAT at 18%.
Finding a property Spain - where should you start?
Search for property in Spain with Rightmoveoverseas.co.uk - the best place to search for Spanish property and part of Rightmove.co.uk, the UK's number one property website. Home to sun, sea, beaches and tapas - and a long standing favourite with Brits - Spain holds strong as the most popular overseas destinations for holidaymakers and investors alike! The lure of the dream villa in Spain is still as strong as ever with more Brits having bought property in Spain in order to regularly holiday there or relocate permanently. With villas, fincas, apartments and larger houses for sale, there is a great range of property in Spain and Rightmoveoverseas.co.uk is the best place to find the very latest property in Spain.
To find out more on how to finance and find a property in Spain, request a copy of The Overseas Guides Company's Spain Property Buying Guide.
Legalities - should you use a lawyer in Spain?
Based on news stories about property buyers in Spain having their property demolished, I think it's safe to say that buyers now realise that it's not only imperative to get a solicitor, but it's absolutely necessary to get a good solicitor.
Stating that, I suggest that you contact a solicitor before setting off to view properties in Spain otherwise if you do decide to buy you will be rushed for time and may be pushed into using a solicitor who may not act in your best interests. In the UK there are many legal firms that specialise in Spanish Law and house purchase. They can act as an intermediary between you and a local solicitor.
Another vital factor is that you need to find a solicitor who is independent from the estate agent, developer or company showing you the properties, so that you know the solicitor is working for you and not the property professional. Some solicitors may draw up a contract of sale which is in favour of the estate agent (or end seller), and the reason behind this is quite disingenuous. By safeguarding the agent the solicitors will be assured of retaining their valuable business. Compare your one transaction to the many the solicitor stands to gain from the agent or developer and you will understand the clear conflict of interest here.
Make sure that you have done your homework and that you are using a reliable and trustworthy solicitor. This may include asking for personal referrals - and these must not include your developer or agent - or using specialised Spanish websites. If the solicitor does not fully comprehend English or you have any reservations at all - move on and find someone else. You may find an English speaking solicitor in Spain is neither English nor Spanish, they might be German or Dutch for example, but they will be competent to deal with your purchase. Solicitors must be registered to practise in Spain and are usually found in the popular coastal areas or larger towns.
Your solicitor will review the sale agreement, verify titles, and carry out other checks to ensure that you're protected. They, or a notary, may be responsible for paying any taxes and registering the property with the land registry if this is required. Charges vary for legal and notary services but can cost around 1% to 2% of the sale value of the property. In Spain the cost is determined by the government.
You need to bear in mind that the legal system in Spain may not work in your favour if trouble strikes, so it is of paramount importance that you hire qualified people who can ensure that you do not have to take legal action. Don't put yourself in the position of needing legal redress. You may have the law on your side but the legal system abroad can keep you tied up for years and cost a fortune. Make sure you - and your solicitor - get it right from the start and the purchase will move forward easily, most purchases in Spain do, you only hear about those that don't.
Settling into Spain - how can you make friends?
It may take a little while before you feel at home, however, there are a few things you may want to do to push the process along:
- Pop in and introduce yourself to your neighbours. Don't worry about the fact that you don't speak Spanish (if that is the case) - just the gesture will be appreciated
- Host a housewarming party. You don't know anybody? Well, now's your chance. Ask that lovely lady you met in the chemist, ask the neighbours, set out to meet a few people that you feel you can invite... A few bottles of Spanish wine will work wonders
- Buy or read your local English newssheet - if indeed there is one. That way you may well find out about local events that you can participate in
- Join local clubs.
- Shop locally and get into conversation with everybody in sight. Learn a few Spanish words such as 'hello' (Hola) and you'll be well on your way.
- Although you may want to submerge yourself in the local culture, you may want to consider joining an expat club. It can be quite comforting to hear your own language from time to time...
Like so many things in life, it may all seem a little daunting at first. Spain is a country with a traditional culture and different ways. The key is to embrace these differences, not battle them. Some of the bureaucracy and formality may be annoying, but perhaps it was this slower pace that enchanted you about Spain in the first place? Relax... and soon it will feel like home to you.
To find out more on legalities, moving and settling into your new home in Spain, request a copy of The Overseas Guides Company's Spain Property Buying Guide.