Buying a property in Spain should be an exciting process, but it can also be daunting. One of the best ways to avoid the pitfalls and to protect your investment is to ensure that you instruct an appropriate and trusted English-speaking lawyer.

Choosing a Spanish lawyer

Choosing the right Spanish lawyer (abogado) is an important decision. It is strongly recommended that you instruct an independent English-speaking lawyer who has experience advising international clients in relation to property purchases in Spain.

Your Spanish lawyer should:

  • Have experience advising international clients in relation to property purchase in Spain;
  • Be independent. By independent, we mean that the lawyer is not connected in any way to the estate agent, developer or seller. An independent lawyer will therefore be working to look after only your interests and not the interests of the estate agent or developer. You should therefore find your own lawyer rather than taking recommendations from the estate agent or using “in-house” lawyers.
  • Be English-speaking: Unless you are completely fluent in Spanish your lawyer should be English-speaking. There is no point paying for advice you do not understand! You should feel comfortable to ask questions knowing that they will be understood and that you will understand the answer!
  • Be Registered. You should ensure that your lawyer in Spain is properly registered with the local bar association (Colegio de Abogados). Your lawyer will be able to provide you with their registration number so that you can check this.
  • Have insurance. You should also check that your lawyer has adequate Professional Indemnity Insurance to ensure that you are covered should there be any problems as a result of their advice.

All the lawyers recommended by TBA are registered and insured. They are also fluent in both Spanish and English and provide all advice in English.

Why should you instruct a lawyer to buy a property in Spain?

By instructing an English-speaking lawyer you will be able to have a better understanding of the property, the process and avoid problems before they arise.

Your Spanish lawyer will:

  • Review the purchase contracts to ensure that they contain everything that you need to protect your position.
  • Check the property title and carry out other checks and searches on the property before you sign the purchase contract to ensure you are not bound to the purchase before you have all the information that you require.
  • Make sure that you are protected from liability for any charges left over from the previous owner such as mortgage costs, taxes, and other claims.
  • Provide advice about any inheritance and tax issues in Spain that may affect you and assist you in preparing a will to cover the Spanish property.
  • They can also assist with other practical matters such as obtaining an NIE Number, setting up a bank account and will often assist with setting up the utilities on the property after purchase.

Investing the relatively small cost of instructing a recommended independent lawyer could end up saving you a lot of money and heartache in the long run and will give you peace of mind.

What is the role of the Notary in Spain?

It is mandatory for a Spanish Notary to be involved in any property transaction in Spain. Whilst Spanish notaries are part of the legal profession, it is important to make sure you do not confuse the role of your lawyer/solicitor with a notary.

The role of a notary in Spain is to oversee the paperwork in a property transaction, collect all necessary taxes and register the property with the Spanish Land Registry. Spanish notaries do not act for either the buyer or seller. You should instruct your own independent lawyer/ solicitor to advise you in relation to the property you wish to buy.

Should I give my Spanish lawyer a Power of Attorney?

If you are not going to be in Spain during the whole of the buying process, it is usual to provide your lawyer with a Power of Attorney. This is a legal document in which you give your lawyer (or any other person you choose) authority to act on your behalf, so that you do not have to travel to Spain each time your signature is required, for example so they can sign documentation on your behalf.

Whilst this is usual practice, a Power of Attorney gives significant power to the person you have authorised to act on your behalf. You must therefore feel completely comfortable before providing a Power of Attorney to anyone and make sure that you are happy with the wording of it and that you understand what you are agreeing to.

Your lawyer will usually be able to prepare the Power of Attorney and this should be prepared in both Spanish and English unless you are completely fluent in Spanish. You will need to sign this document in front of a Notary in Spain or in front of a Notary Public in the UK. (If you need details of a Lawyer in Spain or a Notary Public in the UK- contact us and we will be happy to assist you).

How much do Spanish property lawyers cost?

As a rule of thumb, lawyers’ basic fees for the property purchase are typically around 1%-1.5% of the property purchase price. This is however often subject to a minimum charge (a minimum charge of around €1,000-€1,500 is usual). This obviously depends on the expertise of the firm, the particular property you wish to purchase and can vary from region to region. For example, minimum fees are usually more in the Balearics.

If a Power of Attorney is required or assistance with obtaining an NIE number this can cost a little more.

When budgeting, you will also need to take into account the purchase taxes, notary fees and land registry fees, which are charged in addition to the lawyers fees.

It is usually recommended to budget for 10-12% in addition to your property purchase price for all the additional costs.

It is also advisable to make a Spanish will once you have bought a property in Spain and your lawyer will be able to provide you with a quote for this also.

When should you instruct your Spanish Property Lawyer?

We recommend that you get in touch with a recommended lawyer before you head out on a property viewing trip on which you could potentially proceed with a property purchase.

Identifying a recommended English-speaking lawyer in advance of your trip will mean that you can arrange to speak with them on the phone or to meet in person. This way you can make your decision as to whether they are the right lawyer for you, prior to deciding to instruct them.
Getting in touch early will give the lawyer the opportunity to provide you with an outline of the buying process so you know what to expect. They can also advise you about their legal fees and the other costs associated with the purchase so you can budget for these before you negotiate the purchase price with the property seller or estate agent.
When you are happy with the lawyer and have their contact details to hand, you can confidently move forward with a property purchase with their guidance.
We strongly advise that you do not sign anything or pay over any money at all before you have obtained specific legal advice.

If you require details of a recommended lawyer, please do not hesitate to contact us. We can arrange for one of our recommended lawyers to contact you and provide you with a non-obligation quote for their services.

Other hints and tips

Make sure you tell your lawyer about all the plans or potential plans you have for the property. For example if you are thinking of making an income from the property by renting it out to tourists or if you plan to extend the property or turn the property into a B&B, make sure your lawyer knows this and instruct them to make sure that there are no laws or local restrictions preventing you from carrying out your plans.

Buying a home in Spain is probably of the most significant investments you will make and getting a good lawyer to protect your position is vital.

For further information and to be put in touch with a recommended independent English-speaking lawyer contact us on 01244 478 911 or at