Friday, June 21, 2024

Buy now and have a sangria on your terrace as soon as next week? "This is how fast you buy a residence in Spain, but watch out for pitfalls"

Estate agents on the Belgian coast are not in a cheerful mood with this ailing weather, but their Spanish colleagues are doing excellent business. "If you buy now, with any luck you will be sitting on your terrace with a sangria a week later," says real estate expert Bjorn Cocquyt. He tips entry-level houses and flats from 200,000 to 3.25 million euros in every popular region, but also warns of pitfalls. "Debts stick to a property and thus become your responsibility. That's how you play it safe."

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As we write this article, another series of rain showers pass by and the thermometer reads 15 degrees. Although we are all yearning for the sun, a week of summer weather is not yet on the horizon. No wonder second-home sellers in the south have their hands full. Belgians do so primarily in Spain, with no fewer than 4,649 purchases last year.

The majority opt for new construction, often even on plan, even before the foundation stone has been laid. With that type of property, however, you have to be patient for one to two years before you can spend a holiday there. If you want to escape our sad climate now, that's no good. It is different when you buy an existing property. Then things can move very quickly and it is not exceptional to be drinking sangria on the terrace of your newly acquired casa just a week after the purchase.

Faster than mañana, mañana

Of course, there are a few conditions attached to this. The most important is that you have sufficient funds to pay for the purchase and do not need to take out a loan, otherwise the deadline will immediately be pushed back a few weeks.

If you do have to knock on the bank's door, you would do well to sit down with your banker before your viewing trip to Spain and review your options. That way, you can act quickly once you have found a second residence. After all, from that moment an administrative mill gets underway which, despite the famous Spanish expression 'mañana, mañana', can be brisk.

Everything starts with applying for an NIE number. This is a compulsory tax identification number that is linked to your identity for life. You also need it to take out energy contracts, for instance. Depending on the region - sometimes there are waiting lists - you will have your NIE number in a few days, at a negligible cost. If it takes longer, you can stipulate in the sales contract that it will be delivered to the relevant department within a month.

"Often, this is knocked on the door of a gestor, to whom you give power of attorney to carry out certain trades in your name," says Bjorn Cocquyt.

It is more the rule than the exception that to apply for your NIE number, you knock on the door of a lawyer or a gestor, to whom you give a power of attorney to perform certain actions in your name.

In any case, it is advisable to use such a person, because in Spain these people take on tasks that a notary performs in our country. This includes verifying the seller's financial situation: does he or she still have debts with the bank, is there a loan for the house, have all common costs been paid...? Unlike with us, in Spain debts remain attached to the property and become your responsibility once you are the owner.

Nota Simple

Some of these listed matters are also mentioned in the Nota Simple which is requested from the land register. That document further contains the ownership history, the permit state and a detailed description including areas and layout. The Nota Simple - which should be as recent as possible - is thus essential to have legal certainty before the purchase is fully completed. Also indispensable for speedy completion is the energy performance certificate. If it is not available, an expert must be appointed and that takes time. There is no renovation requirement for the time being.

"In principle, an estate agent can also collect the necessary information, but unfortunately, rogue figures also practise the profession not recognised in Spain," says Bjorn Cocquyt.

In principle, an estate agent can also gather the necessary information, but unfortunately rogue figures are still walking around practising the profession that is still not recognised in Spain. A lawyer, on the other hand, is civilly liable. The peace of mind the lawyer offers you does not come for nothing. On the bandwagon, a lawyer charges 1 per cent + 21 per cent VAT of the purchase price. Some firms apply a fixed sum, along the lines of 1,500 euros, for existing property.

Dutch-speaking staff

Good to know: in the popular regions, all major law firms employ Dutch-speaking administrative staff. This is handy, because for a fee of between €150 and €500 a year, they will conclude energy and internet contracts for you, take care of the tax side of your second residence and be a point of contact in your language.

Another advantage of a larger law firm is that they know exactly where to turn, which obviously helps when things need to move quickly. As a result, you may find yourself sitting at the notary to execute the deed just a week after you have found your place under the sun. If it does take more effort, a six-week deadline is still short compared to Belgium, and allows you to spend a first time in your second residence already this summer.

You will be handed the keys when the deed is executed once all costs on top of the purchase price have been paid. These include the notary's fees, stamp duty, registration ... All together account for around 3 per cent. Finally, there is the transfer tax, which varies depending on where you buy. In Andalusia, for example, it is 7 per cent, in Murcia 8 per cent and in the Communidad Valenciana (Costa Blanca) 10 per cent.

Source: Het Laatste Nieuws