The ‘normal’ way before the diffuculty in the market would be ONCE THE OFFER IS ACCEPTED a reservation deposit would be placed, usually with the agent giving the buyer 2 weeks or so to inspect the paperwork. Assuming all was well, 10% is lodged with the sellers lawyer(incudes the reservation deposit). In the event of the buyer not completing and running out of contract time, there would be an agreed split with the vendor, anything from 50/50 downwards – depends on each agencies rules.
If the seller pulled out he would be liable to pay the buyer double the deposit – this is spanish law.
However we have had quite a few buyers who have lost their deposits where other agents have kept them, certainly a sign of the times and in this case we request to show good faith that the deposit be lodged with the BUYERS LAWYER and then a notification can be sent to the sellers lawyer that this is the csase. Seller has some commitment and buyer can have the property taken off the market until due dilligence is complete. Both parties are then confident yet secure in their transaction.
We only get paid at notary.
Buyers should insist on this and if the answer is no then walk away! The agent will come running and agree to your request.