Dealing with Spanish lawyers qualified to practise in Spain
If you are buying or selling property in Spain, you should make your search for a Spanish lawyer to help you one of your very first tasks. This gives you time to find an English-speaking lawyer with no connection to the company you buy or sell from, which reduces the risks of hidden commercial relationships and conflicts of interest that might undermine the service you receive. It also means you have your own lawyer on hand to check the very first contracts you are expected to sign.
When buying real estate in Spain, which is typically a substantial investment where risk-avoidance is paramount, you are strongly advised to find an independent lawyer qualified to practise in Spain, and who you know is working exclusively for you, with no conflict of interest.
Buying property is a messy and complicated business, and not just in Spain. Anyone who has ever bought or sold property in Europe can wearily confirm that there are many issues to keep you awake at night, and solicitors have to be used by both parties to ensure that their interests are protected in law. It is no different in Spain where you run a similar set of risks as a buyer.
For example when you buy a resale property in Spain you have to check that the vendor’s claim to the property is genuine, and confirm that the property corresponds to the details in the title deeds. And that is just for starters. Every property is unique and there may be many other legal checks to carry out covering issues as diverse as building permits and water rights before you can proceed to signing contracts and making payments with any safety.
When purchasing from a developer, especially off-plan, the input of a lawyer is also essential if you wish to minimise the chances of an unpleasant shock. All you have when you commit to the purchase and make your first payment are a few pieces of paper plus and a signed contract between you and the developer. Unless the contract you sign nails down the developer to delivering a clearly specified property, with all the necessary licences and guarantees, and more or less in the time frame agreed, you run all sorts of risks. Only a qualified Spanish lawyer working in your interests can give you the security you need.
So whatever type of Spanish property you buy, always use a lawyer in Spain. Note that many estate agents claim you don’t need to use a Spanish lawyer, and that the Notary will give you all the legal protection you need. It is true that you can buy a property in Spain without using a lawyer but it this would be very unwise on your part. Estate agents making this claim have their own reasons for saying this, none of which have anything to do with looking after your interests. So always use an independent lawyer when buying property in Spain.