As was pointed out in the section on lawyers, it is important that you find your own, independent lawyer rather than using one recommended by your estate agent or developer. You need a lawyer you can trust on hand to check the very first contract you are expected to sign, which means hiring a lawyer before you have found the property you want to buy, and ideally before you even contact estate agents or developers. The reason why you should not sign or pay anything without first checking with your lawyer is explained in a subsequent chapter on the conveyancing process.
At this stage, before you have found a property to buy, you do not need to hire a lawyer and make any payments, as there is always a chance that your property search will come to nothing. All you need to do is find a good lawyer who you can use the moment you find a property that you would like to buy. You should also find out how much the lawyer charges and what services are included in the fee. Many lawyers charge around 1% plus VAT of the value of the property you buy, whilst others charge by the hour or a flat fee, for example 2,000 Euros plus VAT, irrespective of the value of the property you buy. As will become clear from the chapter on buying it is important to find out what services are included in the price. Some lawyers include a post-purchase service such as paying the transaction taxes and inscribing your title in the property register whilst others charge extra for this. If these services are not included in the fee then you should consider using a gestor (administrative professional), as they are usually cheaper than qualified lawyers.