Larraín Nesbitt Lawyers


Larraín Nesbitt Abogados

Lawyers Qualified to Practise in Spain

Raymundo Larraín Nesbit

Having bought and sold hundreds of properties, and with over 430 articles published over the last twenty years, it was long overdue Larrain Nesbitt Abogados published an in-depth guide on how to buy property in Spain. This has been a long-standing request from clients and readers that we needed to fulfil.

Our practical guide will take you step-by-step through the process of finding and buying your dream home, with particular focus on the region of Andalusia. Whilst we have strived to help you to get the best result at every stage of the buying process, please understand this guide is only an approximation to the procedure and should not be construed, or taken, as substitute for professional legal advice.

Raymundo Larraín Nesbitt, Lawyer / Abogado, author of this guide

1. Living in Spain — Rules and red tape

Who can buy property in Spain?

There are no restrictions on foreigners buying property in Spain. In fact, investment is actively encouraged.

However, due to recent geopolitical events unfolding in Europe, Russian nationals may find serious challenges acquiring and maintaining property in Spain dues to international State-imposed sanctions. These restrictions extend to visa applications and renewals.

While you may find some of the processes and documents mentioned here have different names in your part of Spain, they are fundamentally the same.

Your first task: getting your tax number (NIE number)

As a foreigner, the only administrative hoop you need to jump through before you can buy a property is to be allocated a ‘foreigner’s identification number’ (Número de Identificación de Extranjero, or NIE). Indeed, you’ll need this tax identification number before you can do anything much more than wander about being a tourist.

Among other things, you need a NIE in order to:

  • Buy property
  • Sell property
  • Insure your property
  • Arrange a mortgage loan on your property
  • Until recently, you needed one in order to open a Spanish bank account but these days you don’t need to present one until later down the line.

We explain this procedure in detail in our article: NIE Number Explained – 8th May 2017

We offer this service: NIE Number (Tax Identification Number)

Residency: Registering as a resident

Both EU and non-EU citizens planning on living in Spain for more than three consecutive months must register as a resident. We offer a complete overview on the different types of visas available in our immigration article: How to spend over 90 days in Spain – Residency visa overview – 21st May 2021

Registering as a resident implies you will become tax resident in Spain, as visa renewals are tied to proving you live long-term in Spain. More on this topic here: I want a Spanish visa, but I don’t want to pay any taxes in Spain – 1st August 2021

Larrain Nesbitt Abogados offers several residency & immigration services:

  • Golden Visa (Investor Visa)
  • Spanish Residency permit for EU nationals (includes TIE card & NIE number)
  • Spanish Residency for non-EU nationals: Non-Lucrative Visa
  • Spanish Residency for non-EU nationals: Lucrative Visa
  • EU-family regrouping (Marriage Visa)
  • Digital Nomad Visa

For more in-depth info on residency permits & visas, please visit:

Becoming a permanent resident

After five years registered as a resident, you can apply for a certificate of permanent residence.

Registering on the padrón

If you are resident in Spain for more than three months – regardless of whether you own your property or are renting it or staying with friends – you must register yourself on the padrón, which lists the people who live in the town. You can do this at the local town hall.

Padrón registration confers quite a few benefits including access to some public services and the right to vote in local elections. Your registration also enables the municipality to claim more services from the national government. We explain this in detail in our article: Padron certificate explained – 8th August 2021

We offer this service: Empadronamiento

2. Where do foreigners settle in Spain?

These five most popular regions in Spain to move are:

1. Valencian region

The classic Mediterranean climate of long warm summers and mild winters make the southern east coast of Spain a most agreeable place all year round. Despite the popularity of the Costa Blanca with tourists, and the overdevelopment of some of the coastline, there are still quiet, unspoiled areas to enjoy. A bonus for many Brits is the number of UK ex-pats already here, especially around Denia and Javea, creating the feeling of a ready-made community. The prices here tend to be lower than Costa del Sol.

2. Andalusia

What draws Brits to Andalusia? Is it the splendid Moorish architecture of the Alhambra Palace in Granada and the Alcazar in Seville? No. Although this huge region of Spain boasts a stunning variety of landscapes and cultural attractions, it’s also home to Malaga and the Costa del Sol, and this is where Brits tend to settle to enjoy the coastal climate, the most sunshine days, and the golf. Not to mention the lure of its ultra-low taxation

3. Canary Islands

These volcanic islands just off the west coast of Africa may look a mere pumice stone’s throw away from Morocco and Western Sahara on the map, but they are Spanish through and through, apart from the Germans and the Brits. The landscape hovers between desolate and dramatic but the main draw is the reliability of the weather. In the south of Tenerife, it rains on just 14 days of the year. And even in the coldest month, January, temperatures can average 18°C. yet not be too hot in the summer.

4. Balearic Islands

Although most Brits settling in the Balearic Islands plump for Mallorca, Minorca and Ibiza have their charms too. Options for escaping the tourist crowds are limited, these being smallish islands, but there are still rural areas to be enjoyed, and Mallorca becomes almost an oasis of peace outside the tourist season.

5. Barcelona and the Costa Brava

Barcelona is a remarkable city by any standards and it’s easy to see why so many Brits choose to settle here. The bustling Catalan capital is within easy reach of both coast and mountain and, reassuringly, its climate features all four seasons while still being predominantly sunny. Catalan is widely and proudly spoken here and if the independence movement gets its way, you might suddenly find yourself not living in Spain at all anymore.

4. Assembling your team

A Lawyer (Abogado)

Whilst hiring a conveyance lawyer is not mandatory in Spain, we strongly recommend that you do to avoid the many pitfalls.

Unless you have an excellent command of Spanish law, language, and bureaucracy, you need to find an English-speaking lawyer to act on your behalf. It helps a lot if they are local, although it’s not essential. It’s important to find one you trust and recommended to you by someone who has used them. Make sure they specialise in property law.

Our law firm can offer you a full conveyancing service for buyers in Spain.

Other sources:

A Surveyor

A property in Spain is as likely to have defects as one in the UK and you might be surprised to learn that the most common problem is damp.

Few Spanish house-buyers use a surveyor, generally trusting to good luck. An estate agent may even try to persuade you that there aren’t any. But increasing numbers of RICS chartered surveyors and specialist architects are now providing this service to house buyers.

An experienced and conscientious building surveyor can save you many times their fee by giving you the ammunition to argue the price down. If they don’t find any problems, then the surveyor has bought you peace of mind.

We recommend Survey Spain, which is RICS regulated.

A Notary

You’ll need a notary for drawing up the deeds (escritura) and to witness the signing of all the legal documents. It is the legal right of a buyer (not the seller) to choose the notary they want to work with (normally arranged by your appointed conveyance lawyer). The buyer normally pays the notary’s fees and so gets to choose which one to use. Your lawyer will probably recommend one and visit their office with you.

Notaries (notaria) are legally trained representatives of the state and their fees are set so there’s no point in shopping around. The fees range from 0.1% of the value on the deeds for expensive property to 0.4% for cheaper properties. Fees may also be higher if there’s a mortgage involved, for example.

Notaries (and banks) do not provide business or fairness advice to any of the parties involved. Their role is to ensure that the documents have been written correctly, complying with the law. They are not an alternative to a lawyer.

5. The risks and how to avoid them

Risk 1: Developers

Spain has had something of a reputation for unscrupulous property developers in the past and not without reason. Examples include:

  • Properties built without planning permission. Buy one and it could end up being torn down by the authorities.
  • Failure to comply with building regulations. You could be forced to shell out big money to bring it up to standard.
  • Properties bought off-plan which never actually get built.
  • The property turns out to be smaller or built to a lower specification than advertised.
  • Deposits paid on developments which land was not owned by the developer.

That said, new stringent pro-consumer laws passed over the last decade have winnowed out the majority of cowboy developers leaving mostly professional and hard-working companies.

Risk 2: Debts associated with the property

In Spain, unsettled debts associated with a property stay with the property. So, if you buy a house which has outstanding community fees, community of owner’s fees, property tax (impuesto sobre bienes inmuebles or IBI), or even a mortgage, those debts become the debts of the new owner.

Minimising the risks

Your lawyer will:

  • Check the property with the land registry (Registro de la Propiedad).
  • Check that planning permission was granted when it was built and for any subsequent improvements
  • Ensure there are no outstanding debts attached to the property.
  • Ensure there are no embargoes – effectively a freezing of the property by the authorities, preventing it from being sold until an associated debt is cleared.

Your surveyor will carry out a condition report, building survey or structural report for you as appropriate, and check that the property matches the paperwork.

If you’re curious about a property and not yet at the stage of making an offer, you can find out much of the information yourself by making a request through the Land Registry. Your lawyer and surveyor are the people to help you to make sense of it when it comes to making decisions.

Buying a new-build or off-plan property requires additional caution. Check the company out thoroughly before handing over any deposit and be sure you are guaranteed to get it back quickly should the project never come to fruition. Have the ‘finished’ property ‘snagged’ to make sure that it is in perfect condition.

6. The costs involved in buying a property in Spain

Before you start house-hunting in earnest, it’s important that you know what you’re letting yourself in for financially. The costs vary greatly between regions and also depend on the kind of property you’re buying.

As a very rough rule-of-thumb, you can assume you’ll need between 10% and 13% of the purchase price to cover the costs of buying it, but here’s a more detailed breakdown, with space for you to write the figures that apply to you.

  1. Lawyer fees
    • You’re not obliged to use the services of a lawyer (abogado) but you’d be crazy not to.
      • Typically, 1-1.5% of purchase price plus VAT
  2. Notary fees
    • The notary draws up the deeds (escritura). Fees are set by the government and are based on the sale price of the property. If there’s a mortgage involved, the fees will be higher.
      • 0.4% for cheaper properties to 0.1% for expensive ones. Allow 500-1000 euros
  3. Estate agent fees
    • It is usually down to the seller to pay a standard fee of 5% for urban property (and up to 30% for rural properties) of the sale price, depending upon the region and type of property. However, in some cases, the buyer may be expected to pay a proportion of these, so do check.
      • Standard of 5%
  4. Land registry fees
    • This based on the selling price but differs depending on the municipality.
      • 300 to 500 euros
  5. Survey
    • Not compulsory but strongly advised. The cost will depend on whether you include a valuation and commission a condition report, building survey, or structural report.
      • 450-2,000+ euros
  6. Property valuation
    • Required by the bank if you are seeking a mortgage.
      • 800 euros
  7. IVA (VAT)
    • New-build homes only: Spanish VAT is called IVA (Impuesto de Valor Añadido) and is payable on previously unoccupied homes.
      • 10% of purchase price
  8. AJD (stamp duty)
    • New-build homes only: Spanish stamp duty is called Actos Jurídicos Documentados or AJD.
      • 0.5%-1.5%, depending on which part of Spain
  9. ITP (property transfer tax)
    • Second-hand homes attract a transfer tax called ITP (Impuesto de Transmisiones Patrimoniales) which must be paid within one month of purchase.
      • Between 6-11% (6-11%), depending on which part of Spain
  10. Banker’s draft
    • This is the most common method of paying the balance on completion. The bank charges are quite hefty.
      • Varies. Typically, 0.5% of the value of the cheque
  11. Foreign Exchange Specialist Co.
    • Companies specialising in transferring money between currencies and countries.
      • They are nearly always cheaper than bank transfer.

The Spanish Tax Authority, Agencia Tributaria, offers some information in English on its website at

7. Post-completion: The ongoing costs of owning a property in Spain

Don’t forget to take the ongoing costs of property ownership into account when doing your sums.

As well as the usual maintenance, repairs, insurance, utilities and so on, you can expect to pay a number of taxes and fees:

  • Property Ownership Tax (Impuesto Sobre Bienes Inmuebles or IBI) is the equivalent of Council Tax in the UK and is based on the cadastral value (valor catastral) as determined by the municipal government. The rate ranges from 0.4% – 1.1% of the cadastral value depending on where it is. 
  • Annual Wealth Tax (Impuesto Sobre Patrimonio). If your taxable wealth (which includes land and property) exceeds 500,000 euros in most regions, you could be subject to wealth tax on your net assets whether you’re resident or non-resident. The rate varies depending on which part of Spain the property is in. In Andalusia, for example, resident married couples have a combined tax allowance of over 2mn euros.
  • Non-Resident Imputed Income Tax, NRIIT (Impuesto Sobre la Renta de No Residentes). If you are non-resident, and own a property in Spain, you will have to pay income tax once a year:
    • If the property is not rented out, the tax rate is fixed at 19% for EU residents and 24% for the rest of the world of either 1.1% or 2% of the cadastral value of the property depending on whether the latter is ‘revised’ or ‘unrevised’.
    • If you do rent out the property, you will have to declare the income every tax quarter and pay tax on it. The tax rate is 19% of net earnings for EU residents and 24% of gross earnings for the rest of the world.
    • If the property is owned by a holding company, the tax authorities will assume that you are renting it out and charge tax on their estimate of the income.
  • Community Fees: If your property is part of a complex or building with common parts, you will be obliged to join the community of owners (Comunidad de Propietarios) and pay charges for maintenance of common areas and any shared services. These charges can be very steep – as much as several hundred euros a month for luxury gated communities in coastal areas.

8. Money issues

Opening a Spanish bank account

You should probably open a Spanish bank account quite early on in the process as it could take some time. You will need an account in order to pay the deposit on the property and any professional or administration fees along the way. Spanish utility companies do not accept overseas accounts to domicile payments, only Spanish accounts. We strongly advise property buyers to set payment of utilities as standing orders.

Thankfully, opening a bank account is a relatively straightforward process. Accounts are available for both residents and non-residents. Check with the bank on what documentation you need. Generally, though:

  • To open a non-resident account, you’ll need a copy of your passport, proof of address, your tax number, and the most recent tax returns you filed in your home country. Until recently you would have needed a foreigner’s identification number (Número de Identificación de Extranjero or NIE) but these days you can supply one after the account has been opened.
  • To open a resident account, you will need to produce your ID card.

If you’re opening a non-resident’s account you may also be asked to provide a non-resident’s certificate (Certificado de no Residente) which you can get from a police station on presentation of your passport. You need to renew it every two years and costs approximately 50 euros.

Although most applications can be made online, you’ll probably need to visit in person the branch manager at some point in order to present your documentation so you may as well do the whole thing face-to-face. If your Spanish language skills are lacking, it’s a good idea to take along someone who can help translate for you.

Moving money to Spain

When you need to transfer money from the UK to Spain (or vice versa), bear in mind that doing so through your bank is one of the most expensive options. Not only will the bank charge you a hefty fee, they will also use an unfavourable exchange rate. If you’re moving small amounts of money, the fee will be disproportionately large. If you’re moving the capital to buy a house, the rate will hit you hard.

By far the cheapest way to move money across borders is to use the services of a currency transfer company. It’s simple and transparent with just three steps:

  1. Make an international transfer: Tell us how much you want to send (over £1,000), who you want to pay and the currency you wish to pay in. Then we’ll quote you a rate and you can book the transfer.
  2. Send us your money: Once you’ve booked your rate, you’ll receive a confirmation containing all the payment information so you can pay the company by debit card or bank transfer.
  3. We make your payment for you: That’s it. Put your feet up. Your currency XF company will convert your funds and send the money to the account you requested, all at a great rate.

Paying the final balance

The most common way to pay the balance on completion day at the notary’s office is with a banker’s draft. Charges for these can vary considerably, normally averaging 0.5% of the value of the cheque. Do your homework beforehand.

Getting a mortgage

Although it’s possible to get a mortgage of up to 60% loan to value (sometimes more) from a Spanish bank, you’ll find it difficult to get one unless you’re already established in Spain and can satisfy the lender that you are a good risk. This will involve credit checks. Getting a mortgage from a British bank or building society is likely to be the easier option. Santander is a particularly promising candidate, as it’s Spanish-owned.

If you choose to buy with a mortgage, then you will incur additional costs:

  1. First, you will need to pay for the property valuation that the mortgage provider will insist on before giving you a mortgage. This can cost around 500 euros.
  2. The mortgage itself will come with costs attached. An opening fee of around 1% of the value of the mortgage is not unusual.

Note that as of November 2018, you no longer have to pay stamp duty (Actos Jurídicos Documentados or AJD) on a new mortgage. This is now settled by the lender. Don’t forget that having a mortgage may increase the notary’s fees slightly.

And a new law enacted in 2019 changed who pays what. It is a law that greatly bolstered borrower’s rights.

9. The buying process in Spain – step by step

Step 1. Conduct the property checks

Your lawyer will check:

  • Who the legal owner is
  • That it’s unencumbered by debts, charges, court judgements, unpaid taxes, liens, etc
  • If there are sitting tenants
  • That planning permission was originally granted and any subsequent changes approved
  • If it is subject to any special rules
  • If a new home, that it is insured against damage arising from any structural defects
    … and more.

Step 2. Instruct a survey

Step 3. Reservation agreement

The reservation agreement is the equivalent of ‘sold, subject to contract’ in England and marks an end to the property being marketed for up to a month in return for a reservation fee or holding deposit which is usually between 3,000 and 6,000 euros. It is normally a one-page document drafted by the listing estate agency or the seller. A reservation contract strikes the property off the market over the next 30 days. These security deposits are normally non-refundable unless expressly worded otherwise. Time in which your lawyer will carry out a due diligence on the title and proceed to the next stage (‘the purchase contract’, see below).

Reservation contracts are not an essential step in the buying process, but they are common. As long as the agreement is made subject to conditions such as satisfactory legal checks, building surveys, ability to secure a mortgage, and so on, the risk is relatively low and you should be able to get your deposit back if your conditions aren’t met. For extra peace of mind, fees should be lodged with the vendor’s solicitor, not with the estate agent or property owner.

In any event, never sign a reservation contract or hand over any money without the thumbs up from your lawyer. Reservation contracts are more legally binding than you might expect.

Step 4. The purchase contract

This is the equivalent of exchanging contracts in England. It is essentially the point of no return, beyond which you will lose your money if you pull out.
There are several possible contract types, including the preliminary sales contract (contrato privado de compraventa) and the down payment contract (contrato de paga y señal) but most foreign buyers sign a deposit contract (contrato de arras).

This contract sets out the right of the buyer to purchase the property at a set price to a set timetable. Both parties are penalised for pulling out of the agreement. The buyer would forfeit their deposit (usually 10%) if they cancelled. The seller will have to pay the buyer twice the amount of the deposit if he or she pulls out of the sale. The contract also specifies which fixtures and fittings are included, and which expenses the buyer and seller are responsible for.

It is technically possible to write conditions into a purchase contract to enable you to pull out if, for example, the results of a bank’s valuation survey or your building survey turn out to be unsatisfactory. Not surprisingly, these are unpopular with sellers. And when you do try to invoke such a clause, you may find getting your deposit back to be a long and expensive process. The advice from most lawyers would be to ensure that you are 100% happy with all aspects of the property before signing a purchase contract.

Step 5. Sign the title deeds

The equivalent of ‘completion’ in England takes place at the offices of the notary.

Representatives of all parties need to be there – not just you (or your legal representatives if you have given them Power of Attorney) and the seller, but also the banks providing your mortgage and the seller’s mortgage, for example. Even the selling agent is often there in order to make that they get their fee. With so many parties involved, it’s not unusual for the signing to be cancelled because someone fails to turn up. In any event, expect a lot of hanging around.

The notary will check the paperwork and make sure you understand it, often by reading the entire document to you. If you are not a fluent Spanish speaker, it’s required you instruct an interpreter, which is often your conveyance lawyer.

If everything is in order, you (or someone with power of attorney) will sign the title deed. You will also make the final payment for the property on this visit and be given the keys. The notary will give you an authorised copy of the deed, called a copia simple, either on the spot, or send it via your lawyer a few days later in PDF format. If you have a mortgage, the lender retains the original mortgage deed until the mortgage is settled.

Step 6: Register ownership at the Land Registry

The buyer, or his legal representative, collects the original deed post-completion and lodges it at the Land Registry paying the associated fee. The registration process can take up to three months to complete.

In Spain, we have a two-tier system comprised by the notary and the land registry. Unlike in Anglo-Saxon countries, in the Spanish legal system the only thing that really matters is property registration, not the title deed itself.

Other post-completion tasks

  • Inform the utility companies of change in ownership and sign new contracts
  • Inform the community of owners of change in ownership
  • Settle all your bills
  • Pay any taxes that are due
  • Now that you’re living in Spain and have a fixed address, register yourself on the padrón if you haven’t already done so. 
  • Update your will – both in the UK and in Spain. Get advice from a solicitor about Spain’s inheritance laws and what they mean to you. EU citizens can choose whether they want the law of the country in which they live, or the law of their nationality, to apply in the event of their death. In some regions of Spain (such as Andalusia) inheritance tax has been (almost) abolished.

10. Insider tips – other things you need to know about buying in Spain

Under-declared value

A thorny issue, no doubt. This is much less common these days thanks to Anti-Money Laundering Regulations, both EU and Spanish, and a clampdown by the tax authorities. Nevertheless, you may come across the practice of under-declaring the price in the legal documents to avoid tax, and the accompanying concept ‘B money’ or negro.

This process involves under-stating the value of a property so that the official sales price on the deeds is shown as between 5% and 20% (even up to 50% in the old days) less than the actual purchase price. The buyer is expected to deliver the balance in cash ‘under the table’. The benefits, on paper, are that the buyer pays less transfer tax, and the seller pays less capital gains tax.

Resist all pressure to take part in this kind of fraud. Although it was once commonplace in Spanish property sales, it is illegal. If uncovered after the sale, you will be fined heavily. Also bear in mind that any under-valuation of your property will make you potentially liable for more capital gains tax when you come to sell it, as your ‘profit’ will appear to be higher than it really was.

Surveys and valuations

In Spain, there is no requirement to have any kind of building survey carried out when a property is bought or sold, although if you’re getting a mortgage, the lender will probably insist on a valuation survey.

But it makes sense to get a survey done for your own peace of mind. Make sure the surveyor is independent. The last person you want is someone with social or business connection to the seller, the seller’s lawyer or the estate agent.

It takes time for the surveyor to visit the property and prepare the report, so always commission the survey as early as possible. Some surveyors will give you a verbal report immediately after the inspection so that you can proceed (or not), but always insist on a follow-up written report as well.

There are three types of survey:

  • Building Condition Report: This general health-check comes with detailed advice on any work that needs doing before you should buy it. Or you could negotiate a price reduction and do the works yourself. The surveyor takes measurements and compare them carefully with the Title and Tax descriptions as discrepancies can indicate that works and building have been done without permission. Buy such a property and you become liable for the fines. You could even be forced to demolish it. The surveyor will check that the property doesn’t infringe the coastal law (ley de Costas), verify the Energy, Technical Inspection and Structural Insurance certificates and provide advice on utility bills.
  • Structural Report: This is only required after the Building Survey has identified a serious structural problem and is normally carried out by a structural engineer.
  • ‘Snagging’ Report: This is for new properties. As well as checking the services etc, the surveyor will examine the property and list even the smallest scrape or blemish the developer needs to fix. This list should be in both English and Spanish as often the tradespeople who carry out the work will ignore anything they don’t understand. When the developer informs you, in writing, that the works have been completed, you or your surveyor can revisit to verify that everything has been done.

The cost will depend on the amount of time involved for the surveyor. A survey for a large, older property in a rural location will cost much more than one for a new apartment which is just round the corner from the surveyor’s office. You can make savings by asking for a reduced report listing only the defects found, their cause and how they can be fixed.

Surveys do not generally include a valuation of the property. If you want to reassure yourself that the price you’re paying is a fair one, you’ll need to commission a valuation survey. Save a bit of money by combining this with the Building Condition report.

Spanish building regulations are more stringent than they used to be. That’s not to say that today’s developers don’t also cut corners from time to time, but if the property you’re buying is more than 20 years old, you should definitely commission a survey. If you are buying in a rural area, a surveyor’s report is essential. For a new property, a snagging report, is recommended.

The results put you in a stronger negotiating position but, for this very reason, the seller may not consent to a survey being carried out before the private purchase contract has been signed. If they refuse, there’s nothing you can do about it. It’s especially a problem if the mortgage lender requires a valuation. At the end of the day, if the seller refuses to let you carry out a survey, you can easily draw your own conclusions as to why this might be. And the safest advice would be to simply walk away at this point.

Negotiating the price with the seller

You may find the asking prices of property in Spain somewhat arbitrary and idiosyncratic. This can work against your ability to negotiate as there is often little respect for the concept of objective value. However, at the very least you should arm yourself with the prices of similar properties in the region and try to find out the area’s standard discount on the asking price.

Speeding up the process

One of the things you’ll need to agree with the seller is a deadline for signing the deeds. This is usually between one and two months after the private purchase contract. If both sides want to complete faster than this, it’s possible to agree to skip the private purchase contract stage altogether. However, always build in sufficient time for your team to carry out their work.

Don’t get stuck with the plusvalía

Paying the local capital gains tax, the plusvalía, is the seller’s responsibility but you will end up being liable for it if your seller disappears without paying it. This is because the debt is technically tied to the property so once the property is yours, so is the debt. You should be particularly cautious if you’re buying from a non-resident. If you and your lawyer feel you need to address this risk, you can offer to pay the plusvalía, deducting the amount from the final payment you make to the seller at the notary’s office. This is known as a retention (retención, in Spanish). Lawyers may practice at completion several retentions to safeguard the buyer’s interests in the event the seller has any outstanding debts or has been unable to proof there are no arrears.

About this guide

We hope you found it useful and easy to follow. The information provided herein is for general guidance only. When making decisions, please always ensure you take advice from a qualified Spanish lawyer (abogado).

This property guide will be updated regularly with new laws and regulations. This is a free guide, and no money can be requested in exchange for it.

Our special thanks to:

Mr. Andrew Rogers
Renowned British journalist, copywriter, and author. He has published several books and articles throughout his prolific career.

Mr. Campbell D. Ferguson FRICS
Owner and Director of Survey Spain SL, a network of chartered surveyors in Spain. Based on the Costa del Sol, the Survey Spain network carries out valuations, building surveys, snagging, investment and development appraisals by RICS Chartered Surveyors anywhere in mainland Spain, the Balearic and Canary Islands, and Gibraltar.

— (+34) 952 923 520

Larraín Nesbitt Abogados, small on fees, BIG on service.

Larraín Nesbitt Lawyers is a Spanish law firm specialized in conveyance, taxation, inheritance, residency, and litigation. We will be very pleased to discuss your matter with you. You can contact us by e-mail at, by telephone on (+34) 952 19 22 88, or by completing our contact form to book an appointment.

Version 1 Marbella, 21th of April 2022

The information provided in this guide is of general interest only and is not to be construed or intended as substitute for professional legal advice. This guide may NOT be posted in websites or other social media without our express written permission. All photographs used are subject to copyright from their respective owners. Plagiarizing, whether in whole or in part, this guide without crediting the authors will result in criminal prosecution. No politician was harmed on writing this guide.

2.022 © Raymundo Larraín Nesbitt and Andrew Rogers. All Rights Reserved. Voluntas Omnia Vincit.

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