The attorneys role
Your choice of attorney:
Get a good, reliable attorney or solicitor, somebody who knows his job!
We recommend to our clients that they do not try to save money on a good attorney. Notaries in Spain do not have the same role as notaries in Belgium or the Netherlands and will not carry out any legal checks.
Experience has shown that it is better and more efficient to use a local Spanish attorneys rather than a foreign attorney who speaks the same language as you do. The language should not be a problem. Most attorneys speak English and, if necessary, we can always help with translation and advice. Apart from this: a gestor or asesor is not n attorney!
Once the reservation or deposit contract has been signed, the attorney will carry out the necessary checks, i.e. land and title searches, registration in the Land Registry, (‘registro de la propiedad’) en the cadastral register (‘el catastro’) and also checks to make sure there are no property related debts.
It is not uncommon in the campo, i.e. outside urban zones, for any additions made to the property after the sale not be registered in the Land Registry (see: nota simple). Subsequent extensions after the sale, such as outhouses, swimming pools, etc. used to be added without registering these works in the Land Registry. The register is now slowly being updated which helps us during the buying process.
Note: an attorney only checks the documents which are sent to him. The attorney does not usually visit the property himself. This is why close cooperation between us and the attorney is so important! Not all attorneys appreciate the involvement of a consultancy and this is why we would again like to emphasise the importance of a good attorney!
In addition, your attorney should check whether there are any property related debts: outstanding electricity and water bills, taxes due, mortgage loans or costs for maintaining common gardens and swimming pools (the latter applies predominantly to urbanisations).
These debts must be cleared by the day of sale at the latest. If not, your attorney can demand necessary payments from the seller to ensure that all outstanding costs in his name are paid.
If the dossier is approved, the attorney will draw up the private sales contract (comparable to the Belgium ‘compromis’) before the next stage of the sales process.
The following two things are extremely important if you are serious about buying property:
- You should apply for a NIE number: ( Número de Identificación de Extranjeros or Foreigners’ Identification Number. This is the tax reference number for all foreign nationals who live in Spain or reside in Spain for more than 182 days a year. You need this NIE number for all commercial transactions (including registration of your property with the Land Registry, opening bank accounts, starting a business, getting a phone line, gas and electricity and when taking out any insurance in Spain!) and tax returns. You can apply for a NIE number at main police stations with a special department for foreigners (Comisaria de Policía – Oficina de Extranjeros). You can find these police stations in all major cities. You can also ask your tax agent (gestor or solicitor) to help you with this. We can also assist you with this process.
- The next step is opening a bank account: when you are not in Spain the attorney is usually given power of attorney to open and manage a bank account to ensure that deposits and any other payments can be made quickly.