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3 Key Things to Remember When Buying a Property in Spain

Mountains, idyllic coastlines and cultural cities – no wonder you’re considering buying a property in Spain. And that’s before you’ve even thought about the food, endless days of sunshine and everyone calling you cariño wherever you go.

But, whilst rewarding, buying a property in Spain isn’t as straightforward as you may think, especially if you’re a non-resident. There’s paperwork to navigate, cultural differences, language and the usual emotions that come with buying a new home.

In this article, we’re going to go through 3 key things you need to think about when buying a property in Spain, so that you know what to expect and the process can go as smoothly as possible.

3 Things to Consider When Buying a Property In Spain

There are so many things to think about whenever you make the enormous decision to buy a home. But there are lots of them that are specific to buying a property in Spain. You need to make sure you’ve gone through them all so there are no unexpected surprises along the way.

#1: The Process Is Different (And Very Fast)

When buying a property abroad, you expect the process to be different – after all, new customs are part of the fun of investing in a new country. But it can also make the whole experience more unsettling. How do you contact an estate agent? What are the extra expenses you can expect to pay? Can you buy as a foreigner?

These are all questions which quickly mount up and cause a lot of stress.

As a non-resident in Spain, the first thing you need to do is apply for a NIE (Número de Identidad de Extranjero). Appointments to do this are in high demand and even more difficult if you’re not an EU citizen, so it’s best to start this process before you find your perfect property.

After finding your ideal apartment or house, you’ll then be asked to put in an offer. Which, as you can imagine, is pretty standard when trying to buy a house. Something worth noting, however, is that the Spaniards are much more used to negotiating than some other countries are. You very rarely make an offer at the asking price… but also be aware of going too low and disrespecting the seller. It’s a fine balance and a decision you have to make based on your finances and how much you love the property.
It’s also common for sellers to come back with a counteroffer and for the negotiations to last a day or so.

If you’re hoping to buy a property in a sought-after area such as Madrid, Barcelona or Valencia, you want to get this sorted as quickly as possible as, at any point, another buyer can sweep in and make a more attractive offer (which, in Spain, is often a cash one).

Once you’ve agreed on a price, you’ll be sent the contrato de arras. This is a reserving document that both the seller and buyer sign agreeing to the terms and price of the property. You’ll then have to transfer 10% of the price of the property directly to the seller. If, for example, there’s a problem with your mortgage or you pull out of the deal, you’ll lose your 10% deposit. But, if the seller pulls out, they’ll have to pay you back twofold. So, even though you’re paying a lot of money all in one go, it’s kind of safe on both sides (and you don’t risk losing money on fees and inspections if the seller pulls out, which is the case in other countries).

So, we may as well talk about inspections in Spain… and how they don’t really exist. Surveyors, as in the professionals who check the condition of a property, are not common in Spain – something which can feel very daunting to those buying in the country for the first time. How do you know if the building is well-built? What about if there’s damp? Whilst these can all be points for renegotiation in other countries, you’re just going to have to be a little more tranquilo in Spain. After all, if no one else is surveying their property, there’s no problem, right?

It does mean that the whole process can happen very quickly. You can see a property on Monday and sign the contrato de arras on Thursday, giving you 6 weeks to finalise your mortgage (if needed) and complete the sale.

#2: The Emotions Are The Same

Buying a property is stressful. There’s no getting around that – whichever country you’re thinking of buying in. There’ll be a lot of sleepless nights and hours spent asking yourself if you’re making the right decision.

There’ll also be a lot of excitement, but excitement you don’t quite want to admit to yourself until you’ve signed the contrato de arras. Can you start looking at furniture yet? Where do you imagine yourself having your morning coffee? It’s hard not to let your mind race ahead to actually owning the flat.

But, as in any market, offers can fall through – and then you have a bunch of other emotions to deal with… sadness, disappointment and a bit of anger too.

Buying a property in Spain will take you on an emotional rollercoaster but it’s important to try to keep your cool and remember that the perfect property is out there for you, you just have to find it.

3: It’s So Worth It

Did you know that the top three cities to live in in the world for expats are all in Spain? Malaga, Alicante and Valencia… with Madrid coming in at number 6 and Barcelona number 13. In our view, that’s reason enough to start looking at buying a property in Spain.

Spain is likely to keep gaining popularity for digital nomads, travellers and those looking to move, meaning it’s going to be a great investment too. It’s not all about the vibrant cities, stunning landscapes and rich food culture (although that helps), but you get a lot for your money too.

Ready To Buy A Property In Spain?
Making the decision to buy somewhere in Spain can feel overwhelming. Perhaps you have a specific place in mind? Or maybe you’re just looking for a bit more sunshine in your life? Whatever your reasons for buying a property in Spain, we can help. From a villa on one of the islands to a studio flat in one of Spain’s beautiful cities, our experts will help you find the perfect property and guide you through the process.

Get in touch today to start your journey buying a property in Spain!


Note that this article is general and is shared as information. Property, tax, finance and other legal topics are personal and can vary not only from person to person but between the different regions of Spain. We recommend that you seek professional guidance if you need advice on matters covered in this article.

About the author

Maria, the Bueno Team

As expats, we know Spain and have experienced the ups and downs of owning property in Spain