Steps to buy a property in Spain

Buying a property in Spain is quite a clear process when the correct steps and legal advice are followed. Nevertheless, it is more difficult than in one’s own country, therefore we recommend you are assisted by a Real Estate Agent. In Marbella area on the Costa del Sol there are several well established Real Estate Agencies that are prepared to assist you to find the right property.

You should take into consideration that besides the purchase price of the property there are costs and taxes to be paid by the buyer.

Finding the right property

Generally this will be the longest part of the purchase process. Usually it takes two or three visits to Marbella to select the right property. Take your time when looking around:

  • Compare the different posibilities the market has to offer.
  • Examine the phisical features in detail.
  • Ascertain the property’s legal situation.


Once you find the right property, we recommend you engage a local lawyer, who speaks your language, to secure your interests throughout the entire purchase process.

Presenting an offer

Once you have decided on the property you want to buy, you will have to present an offer in writing, subject to contract, where you should state not only the final price, but also the deposit amount and when you are prepared to pay it, as well as when you expect to complete the purchase, and what you understand is included (like furniture and fittings).  Generally around 10% of the purchase price is the deposit required to sign a private contract.

Private contract

At this stage your lawyer will revise the status and all the details on the property with the local Land Registry to ensure that all the legal aspects and the property’s documents are in correct order, that there are no debts, nor encumbrances, and that the person selling is actually the owner.

Once the lawyer has revised that everything is in order he will prepare a private contract (contrato de compraventa) that will bind both parties to the agreement. In the said contract the date of completion of the purchase and all the agreed details will be stated.  At the signature of the private contract, the buyer will pay 10% deposit. At this point, if the buyer decides to withdraw from the purchase agreement he will loose his deposit. If it is the seller that withdraws from the deal he will be obliged to repay double the deposit amount to the buyer, unless agreed otherwise.

Title deed and land registry

The final phase is when your lawyer prepares the title deed (escritura de compraventa) to be signed in front of a Spanish Notary, having previously checked that the property is clear of any debts and encumbrances, and the buyer pays the balance of the purchase price.

Once the title deed has been signed, your lawyer will register the property under your name at the local Land Registry (Registro de la Propiedad). Since January 2013 the Land Registry requires proof of the “plusvalia” tax payment, which must be paid by the seller, prior to registering the property under the buyer’s name.

The details provided herein are only by way of an informative guide, they do not substitute legal advice. The content is subject to updates, may have errors or omissions.