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It's essential when buying a house in Spain to get a good Solicitor that you feel comfortable using. A lot of people buying a house will often use a solicitor based on the coast, purely because a large number of them do speak English. Because property laws in each town or village are so different from one another, these solicitors will usually just subcontract out the work to a local solicitor in the region that the house is based in, and then you will end up paying out more money, as coastal solicitors are generally more expensive and you're also paying another solicitors fee.

There are English speaking lawyers based inland which we can recommend, or you can use the services of a translator in your legal dealings, both of which will save you money, and provide an equal level of service. We speak Spanish, and will of course accompany you to any meetings with Solicitors and Notarios.

Unlike the UK, where the process of buying a house is all handled by solicitors, in Spain it is usually required that the purchasers and the vendors of a house are present at the completion of a sale, which takes place at the Notarios office. If you cannot be present for this, then you need to appoint your solicitor with power of attorney, so he can sign all the documents on your behalf. You will also need to set up a bank account for utility bills, and you cannot buy a house or open a bank account without an N.I.E number, which is used for virtually all financial transactions in Spain. A solicitor with power of attorney can set all of this up for you in your absence.

Make sure that if you get a bank account set up for you, your branch is in your village. Spanish banking has not yet evolved to the levels in the UK, where everything can be done over the phone or the internet. There are many bank functions that you cannot carry out without going to your specific branch to sign for it, not just the nearest branch of your bank. If your solicitor has set you up with an account somewhere on the coast, you may end up having a three hour round trip to get a bankers draft! Local bank branches are very accomodating, and once you get to know the staff, it is a lot easier.

All houses in England usually have deeds on the property. The same is true in Spain, where the document is called an escritura. A lot of rural properties sometimes do not have escrituras. This may be for a number of reasons. Sometimes the escritura has been lost, sometimes the house has changed hands with a private contract and the escritura is still in the name of the previous owner. Houses with land may have sold off, or added to, part of their estate, and this is not accurately reflected in the current escritura.

These are not major problems, and can be sorted out by an experienced solicitor, but it goes to show you that things can be complex for the unwary. We wil only take on property where we know that either there is an escritura, or that the situation can be resolved easily by a solicitor without any danger to the buyer.

Everyone hates the taxman, and in Spain this is very evident. Often, houses were sold at their market rate, and then when it came to the completion at the Notarios office, the sums of money being given as the sale price were lower than expected. There was often an 'official' price for the property, and the rest was given to the vendor as 'black money'. This sounds highly illegal and it is, but was actually common practice in Spain however the government has clamped down on this practice and we would recommend that you instruct your solicitor to declare the full amount, it will cost you a little more in tax initially but when you come to sell the property in the future, or when a family member inherits the property, it will benefit you or them as what was declared on your escitura will be the correct price and not a false one, thereby leaving less capital gains or inheritance tax to pay. As the purchaser, it is your perrogative to declare the entire amount of the sale price, and the seller must either agree to it, or pull out of the deal.