Buying Property in Spain


Please note the following is just a guide and legal advice should be sought when buying property in Spain

Finding the Right Property General Information

Examine your reason for buying property in Spain. Where in Spain you want to buy property depends on whether you want the property as an investment, as a vacation home, or to live in permanently.

If you're buying as an investment, look in vacation hot spots on the coasts or in large cities. These properties are likely to go up in value and will provide good rental income.

For a vacation home, concentrate on apartments and villas in developments. The property management company will care for the exterior and landscaping, and plenty of neighbours means leaving the home vacant for months won't be as big of a concern.

For a more permanent home, you'll want to focus on your quality of life. Look at the local infrastructure, facilities, and accessibility. If you want to be around other expats, focus on towns and cities that have thriving expat communities.


Calculate your budget. Before you start looking at Buying Property in Spain you need to fully understand the costs of owning property in Spain so you can budget accordingly. You will have expenses beyond the price of the house.

You'll pay a stamp tax of around 1 percent of the purchase price of your new home, as well as fees to brokers, attorneys, and others. Assume you'll pay between 10 and 15 percent more than the list price of the house, once you factor in taxes and fees.

Don't forget the costs associated with moving your furniture and belongings to Spain, or purchasing new items for your Spanish home.

If you're buying a new home, you also must pay a 10 percent VAT tax (4.5 percent in the Canaries) on the property when you close on the sale of the house. (these fees are only a guideline).

Buying Property in Spain

Look at different types of Spanish property. Just as in any other country, you can buy properties in Spain that are in different states of readiness. Which you choose depends on your needs as well as your budget. There are different costs associated with different types of property.

New construction (obra nueva) is the most expensive type of property you can buy in Spain. However, the biggest advantage is that you know exactly what you're getting, and won't incur any remodeling expenses.

Resale property, which essentially is an existing house that has already been sold at least once. These properties are generally safer investments, provided you understand how much you'll have to spend on repairs or remodelling.

Off-plan (sobre plano) property has been approved for construction by local authorities, but construction is not yet completed. You may get a lower price for these properties than you would for new construction, but you run the risk that the house will never be finished.

Research your favourite areas. Before you buy property in Spain, hit the internet to learn more about areas that have captured your interest. The information you need depends on your reasons for buying property in Spain.

For example, if you're buying the property as an investment, you want to check out the property values in the area. If property values have been declining significantly in recent years, the area might not be a good investment.

If you're looking to rent out the property when you're not there, you want to look for a well-connected area with lots of attractions and things to do. Avoid properties that are too rural or isolated, as you may have a hard time keeping them rented on a regular basis.

If you want to move to Spain and live in the property permanently, research what it's like to live in that area on a daily basis. Find out about any risks, and compare the cost of living and tax rates to surrounding areas.

Read some of our members experiences who have made the move to Spain HERE

Visit the area where you plan to buy. Spending some time on your own exploring the area around property you want to buy is crucial. Go there not as a tourist on vacation, but with an eye toward what it would be like to live there full-time.

While it's important to find out what activities and entertainment are available, if you plan to live there permanently, these things shouldn't be your priority. Renting a property in the area for a few months will give you a better idea of what it's like to live there.

If you want to buy property in Spain for investment purposes, you still need to look at what daily life is like in the area. You'll need to be able to tell prospective renters what the property offers for them.

Learn more about the Costa Blanca North and the Costa Blanca South

Buying Property in Spain

This guide sets out essential information for British nationals wanting to buy property in Spain, including advice on legal advice, buying in certain areas, complaints and more.

We are unable to provide any guidance on individual property purchases apart from the information and links listed below.

We strongly recommended that you choose an independent lawyer who specialises in Spanish land law (urbanismo). Independent means that they work on your behalf only and are not also looking after the interests of the agent or developer.

The Spanish property conveyancing system is different to the UK system so you should ensure that those involved in the transaction are qualified and experienced in Spain.

Use extreme caution if an estate agent, promoter or lawyer urges you to cut corners to save money or time.

Spanish notaries

A Spanish notary public will prepare the contract of sale and issue the public deeds.

As the purchaser, you have the right to choose which notary you use.

The notary is a public servant who has a duty to provide you with free and impartial legal advice on all aspects of the contract before you sign. It is a good idea to seek advice from the notary early on. When a date is set for signing the contract, you have 3 days beforehand to visit the notary and ask any questions you may have about any aspect of the contract.

Find English-speaking notaries.

British estate agents, promoters and lawyers

If you choose to work with a British estate agent, promoter or lawyer, check that:

  • they are qualified, reliable and have experience operating in Spain
  • they are registered with the Law Society in the UK
  • they specialise in international transactions

If your lawyer is based in Spain, ask for their registration number and check that they are registered and practising with the local bar association (Colegio de Abogados).

You should also check that your lawyer has professional indemnity insurance and do not sign any papers or hand over any money until you have taken independent legal advice.

Although the British Embassy cannot recommend a lawyer, we do have lists of local English-speaking lawyers available.

If you would like help and advice on Buying or Selling your Property contact 5 Real Estate - Spain's fastest growing fixed fee full service international estate agent with 10 offices in the Costa Blanca and growing.

Visit 5 Real Estate in one of their established branches located in Oliva, Javea, Albir, Benidorm, Ciudad Quesada, Los Dolses, Vistabella Golf, Torrevieja and San Pedro del Pinatar. We also have property consultants on the ground along the Costa Blanca coastline and into the Murcia Region.


Many Spanish citizens use a ‘gestor’ to carry out bureaucracy on their behalf. Only a Gestor Administrativo with the GA kite mark is professionally qualified and certified to process paperwork directly with the Spanish administration. More information on gestor services can be found here.

If you are involved in a property dispute and do not have enough money to pay the costs of a court case, you can apply for legal aid. Further information is available on the European E-Justice Portal.

If you are resident in Spain, you can apply to your local bar association for a legal aid solicitor.

You may need to find a new lawyer with specific expertise for example, specialist civil lawyers for compensation claims against private parties such as agents, developers or banks, and specialist public body litigants (contencioso administrativo) for claims against local, regional or state authorities.


If you do not have a good understanding of Spanish, make sure that you get all contracts and documents translated by an independent translator.

You can find a list of accredited translators and interpreters in Spain on the Spanish Ministry for Foreign Affairs website.


Do your homework: you should analyse and compare different products and services offered by lending companies. If you have any doubts about the terms and conditions, ask the lender to explain.

You should also check with the Bank of Spain that the lender is authorised to operate in Spain

There are a range of mortgages on offer and you should pay special attention to the interest rate and repayment period, fees for setting up the mortgage as well as early repayment and cancellation fees.

If you cannot keep up the mortgage repayments, the Spanish bank could repossess your property in Spain. If the value of the property is less than the total debt outstanding (you are in negative equity), the bank may pursue your UK assets to recover the mortgage shortfall using a European Enforcement Order.

Make sure you fully understand the mortgage agreement you sign. If you have any doubts check with the branch during the 10 working-day period after the binding offer has been provided.

If for any reason you cannot keep up the mortgage repayments, you should speak to your bank immediately (before defaulting on repayments) to discuss the options available.

Further information on mortgages in Spain is available from the Spanish Mortgage Association.

NIE - foreigners identification number

A NIE (Numero de Identidad de Extranjero), is a personal identification number required in order to carry out any fiscal transaction in Spain such as opening a bank account or buying property.

Foreign nationals are assigned a NIE number on registering as a resident in Spain at the Oficina de Extranjeros (immigration office) or designated police station, however property buyers from outside Spain can apply for a NIE at the Spanish embassy or consulate in the UK or through a representative.

Contact MY NIE


Taxation is a complex issue, and taxes associated with buying, selling and renting property in Spain can vary widely from one region to the next, therefore it is advisable to seek the advice of an accountant or professional tax advisor.

The Spanish tax authority, the Agencia Tributaria provides some information on property and tax on its website in English.

See the Living in Spain guide for brief information on taxation.


See property fraud guidance.

Buying Property in Spain

If you believe your lawyer has been negligent and has not met their obligations, you should first complain to the provincial bar association (Ilustre Colegio Provincial de Abogados). If their response is unsatisfactory, you can take your complaint to the regional and then national bar associations.

Complaints should be in writing and in Spanish.

See a list of the bar associations around Spain on the General Council of Spanish Lawyers website.

If you have a complaint about the way a court has handled your case, contact the General Council of the Judiciary.

If you have a complaint against a notary or gestor administrativo, contact the professional council of which they are a member.

Visa/residence requirements

See residency requirements in Spain.

Purchaser’s checklist

Before you complete your property purchase you should make sure that:

  • you have seen the land registry extract (nota simple), available from the Colegio de Registradores (translations into English for an additional fee), and checked the following details
  • the property and land for sale match the details registered and the sellers are the registered owner(s)
  • there are no debts or charges, such as a mortgage, on the property (see nota simple)
  • there are no legal proceedings initiated against the property for contravention of land planning law

You should check that planning permissions are in order and the property is a legal build. This is particularly important when buying off-plan or direct from a developer. The town hall can tell you whether the building has all licences and permissions and what type of land it is.

If the property is built on rural land or land that is not classified for construction, you should ask the regional government to confirm construction is authorised.

If you are buying an off-plan property, confirm that the property has been certified as finished by a registered architect and registered as a new build in the property register. The registration should also provide details of the developer’s insurance against structural and other defects in the construction. In the case of a private build (the previous owner built their own house and decided to sell before 10 years had lapsed) you will need to request these details separately

You should check the latest town plan to see whether or not the plot you wish to buy has any building restrictions, is in a green zone or includes a public pathway or similar. You can do this at to the town planning (urbanismo) department of the local town hall.

You should have the property surveyed. This is not obligatory, but it is wise to get a chartered surveyor to check the property.

You should know the cadastral value of the property and how much purchase tax will be due. Tax is charged on the council’s valuation of the property as opposed to the amount of the sale. You can check this at the regional government’s online tax agency site using the cadastral reference number

Make sure you have seen the following documents:

  • a paid-up receipt for the previous owner’s annual property tax (IBI). It is also wise to get a certificate from the town hall proving that there are no unpaid rates from previous years
  • the cadastral certificate giving the exact boundaries and square metres of your land - this will be linked to the land register record by a cadastral reference number. You should ensure that the property and land description contained in both records matches
  • the licence of first occupancy or habitation certificate issued by the town hall. You will need this document to connect to electricity and water companies. Developers cannot force you to complete without this licence
  • receipt to prove all utility bills have been paid by the previous owner
  • if applicable, a certificate signed by the President of the Community of Property Owners (see Comunidad de Vecinos) stating that there are no outstanding debts. You should be aware that if you later find that there are such debts outstanding, as the new owner, you assume the debts for the current and previous year (2 years in total)
  • as from 1 June 2013, all homes for sale or to let in Spain are required by law to have an energy efficiency certificate. If you are considering buying a property, the seller is obliged to show you this certificate

On completion, the public deed should contain an accurate description of the property. You should register the property in your name with the Land Registry as soon as possible to ensure full protection of your rights. The notary can even send advance notification to the Land Registry electronically once the public deed is signed.

Check property location prior to purchase

Planning and building rules differ from region to region, you should ensure you research the rules relating to the location of the property prior to purchase.

Coastal demarcation

If you are considering purchasing a coastal property you should contact the Coastal Demarcation office in your region to get a certificate to certify that the property is not affected by the 1988 Coastal Law. Bear in mind that while it is possible to view the coastal boundaries of the public maritime areas online on the Environment Ministry’s website, this may not provide sufficiently accurate information on which to base a property purchase.

Rural land

Be extremely careful if the Land Registry record shows that the property you wish to buy is built on rural land. In normal circumstances the government reserves this type of land for agricultural use and you need to check with the municipal and regional authorities to ensure that full planning permission has been obtained for residential use.

Military bases

In some parts of Spain, the peripheral land surrounding a military or naval base is considered ‘restricted’ under Spanish law, and specific rules may apply when buying, selling or carrying out construction work on properties located in these areas.

From 1 January 2021, UK nationals who wish to buy property in these areas, including those who fall within the scope of the Withdrawal Agreement, will be required to meet third country national (i.e. non-EU national) requirements and obtain a military permit from the Spanish Ministry of Defence prior to purchase. This permit is only applicable to new property purchases or construction works in the areas referenced below from 1 January 2021.

Areas referenced in this law include:

  • Cartagena area (Murcia) including southern Alicante and eastern Almeria
  • the Strait of Gibraltar area
  • Bay of Cadiz area
  • Galicia’s coastal regions
  • all bordering regions with France, Andorra and Portugal
  • all Spanish Islands (Balearic Islands and Canary Islands) – see Art 32. and Annex II of the Royal Decree 689/1978
  • Ceuta
  • Melilla

See Annex II of the Royal Decree 689/1978 for a list of specific towns and areas affected, and check with local property registries and local notaries for advice on whether this law applies to the property you own or are considering purchasing. Exemptions may apply in certain areas.

As with all property transactions, we strongly recommend you seek specialised legal advice from a lawyer who can advise and support you through the process and, if necessary, request the military authorization on your behalf. See list of English-speaking lawyers in Spain.

Buying property off-plan

Buying off-plan property inevitably involves higher risk than buying re-sale property. If you are considering buying off-plan in Spain there are a number of points to consider.

Before you pay

Make sure you have a bank guarantee (aval bancario) to cover your stage payments. Developers of off-plan properties are legally obliged to secure all deposits with a bank guarantee. However, bear in mind that this obligation only comes into force once the developer has planning permission, so you should ask to see this before making any payments.

You can also check this at the Land Registry, because if the description of the future building is registered, the registrar will have seen evidence that the licence exists and work has begun following the approved design.

You should ensure that the bank guarantee is individual and not a collective guarantee covering the whole development, which does not give the same protection. You should also request proof that your payments are deposited in a special escrow account, which can only be used for the construction of the specified development.

Make sure the developer is registered with the Mercantile Registry and the person who is going to sign on the developer’s behalf has the legal power to do so. You can visit any Mercantile Registry office or use the Land Registry website.

Check with the Land Registry to make sure the land which is going to be built on is registered to the developer you are doing business with.

Make sure you obtain a copy of the cadastral certificate giving the exact boundaries and square metres of your land.

Ensure the developer has insurance covering damage caused by structural defects to the building. This insurance should be included in the property manual (libro del edificio) that the developer gives you.

You should also get a planning certificate for the plot you wish to buy from the town planning (Urbanismo) department of the town hall. This will include information such as whether the plot has any building restrictions, is in a green zone, includes a public footpath or if there are any current plans to build a motorway etc.

Before you sign the title deed

Once construction has finished, and before you sign the title deed, ask for proof from the seller that the construction has been finished in accordance with the description given in the plans. This is issued as a certificate (certificado final de obra). You can also check this at the Land Registry.

Make sure you have the licence of first occupancy (licencia de primera occupación) which is issued by the town hall for new buildings and certifies that the property is habitable. You will need this document to connect to electricity and water companies. Developers cannot force you to complete without this licence.

Consider asking a chartered surveyor to check the property. This is not obligatory but it is wise to obtain a professional opinion on the property before you complete. The Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) exists in Spain and there are residential chartered surveyors working across the peninsula and the islands. Members of the RICS are qualified and experienced professionals offering independent and impartial advice.

The Spanish College of Architects in each province also offers a list of independent specialist surveyors.

Cancelling the contract

If the developer does not build your property by the deadline in the contract, or services and utilities are not completed and connected to standard, or the habitation certificate cannot be issued, you are legally entitled to:

  • cancel the contract and have the deposits returned plus interest
  • extend the deadline, allowing the developer to complete the property

If you want to cancel the contract, you should get independent legal advice. Once you have consulted a lawyer, the first step is to write to the developer to explain that due to non-compliance with the contract, you want to cancel the contract and request that the deposits paid so far are returned, as well as the accrued interest.

You should include any relevant documents (for example. a copy of the contract, copies of payments made, copy of the bank guarantee) and give a date by which you want the amount to be paid back. You should write to the developer using Burofax, a service provided by the Spanish postal service ‘Correos’ and most couriers, that legally certifies the content has been received by the addressee.

If the developer does not respond to you within the specified timeframe, you should contact the claims department of the bank or savings bank responsible for the guarantee to request a refund of the payments made. Again, it is wise to make contact using Burofax and attach copies of all relevant documents, including a copy of the bank guarantee, a copy of the complaint submitted to the developer, a copy of the developer’s response (if any) and copies of any documents which indicate that the developer has not complied with the contract.

Should the bank not comply, the only remaining course of redress is to instruct a lawyer to take a civil case against the bank.

If you believe you have been a victim of fraud and you have neither a bank guarantee nor an insurance policy from the developer, you should seek independent legal advice regarding taking criminal legal action through the courts and register a statement with the police.

Community of owners

A ‘Community of Owners’ (‘Comunidad de Propietarios’ or ‘Comunidad de Vecinos’) is a legal entity (as per the Ley de Propiedad Horizontal 49/1960) comprising all homeowners within the same development such as a block of flats or urbanisation. The purpose of this entity is to manage the maintenance and financial upkeep of the property, particularly communal facilities.

Each homeowner is assigned a monthly quota as set out in the Community’s governing statutes (Estatutos de la Comunidad de Propietarios) and is required to represent the Community on the governing board (Junta de Gobierno) on a rotational basis. ‘Communities of Owners’ can take legal action against any owner who fails to pay community fees.

Renting out your property

Owners who let their properties on a short or long-term basis in Spain must comply with national rental regulations as set out by the national rental law (Ley 29/1994, de 24 de noviembre, de Arrendamientos Urbanos and Real Decreto-Ley 7/2019, de 1 de marzo).

Before entering into a tenancy agreement as a landlord (arrendador) or tenant (arrendatario) in Spain, make sure you know your rights and obligations as they can differ from those in the UK. Consider seeking professional advice to ensure you are complying with Spanish and local legislation.

Buying Property in Spain.  Properties for Sale HERE


This information is provided as a general guide and may be subject to change at any time with little or no notice. Benidorm Seriously will not be liable for any inaccuracies in this information.  British nationals wishing to obtain any further information must contact the relevant local authority or seek legal/specialist advice.

Have you purchased a property in Spain and have a story to tell, comment below.

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