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Buying Property in Spain

4. Must I use a lawyer to handle my Spanish property purchase?

Perhaps it's the strong Mediterranean sunshine, perhaps the cheap wine...whatever the reason, around 20% of foreigners are still buying Spanish property without using a lawyer.

Most would never dream of purchasing a house in their own country without taking legal advice yet they stumble blindly into the somewhat dodgy world of the Spanish property market relying on nothing but the advice of an estate agent.

Now I'm not saying there's anything wrong with estate agents (not all of them anyway!) but let's face it, their main task is to secure the sale at all costs and earn their commission. Your estate agent may be extremely knowledgeable about the subject but his or her advice is in no way a substitute for professional legal advice.

There have been countless high profile cases of unwary foreigners being snared into buying properties which they later found they didn't legally own (and that's after they parted with the money).

Buying "off plan" from a developer can be a particularly hazardous scenario if you don't have a water tight contract drawn up before you hand over your first payment(more on this in my next email to you).

You may be buying into a community of owners who have joint responsibility for certain communal facilities such as the swimming pool, gardens, security etc. You'll want to know exactly what these responsibilies are, how much they're going to cost you and what your rights as an owner will be within that community. Communities are governed both by a national law in Spain and by their own local rules and regulations. Your lawyer will be able to spell it all out for you and to warn you of any potential disputes or problems within a given community (such as arguments over what colour the buildings should be painted!).

All the normal legal checks need to be done - with the local town hall, for example, to ensure a 10-pin bowling alley and all night disco isn't about to be constructed next door to your dream home.

Your lawyer will draw up an initial pre-sale contract, handle the payment of the customary 10% deposit and accompany you to the notary for the final exchange of contracts.

And above all else, he or she will ensure that you end up with a property which is legally yours, which is what you thought it was and which doesn't come complete with a mountain of debts.

Find a reputable firm specialising in Spanish property law in your own country or use a Spanish lawyer in the area where you wish to buy. Most Spanish lawyers speak good English, especially in areas popular with ex-pats, and if they're local to the area they'll have the advantage of inside knowledge which could prove useful.

Try to use a lawyer recommended by a trusted friend or colleague if possible. Failing that, when you're in Spain pop into the local pubs and clubs and ask for advice on good lawyers and those with "wouldn't touch with a bargepole" reputations.

I hope you've found this advice helpful. Next I'll be discussing how to protect yourself when buying a yet-to-be-built property from an agent or developer.

5. Buying "off-plan" from and agent or developer.

Content for these pages is © Ann Knight, all rights reserved.

Related Links

Andalucia Real Estate - Property for sale in Andalucia.

Buying a property in Spain - Ann's own site promting her book.

Properties In Europe - European property portal with a searchable database of properties to buy and rent in France, Spain, Italy and Portugal. Includes for French, Spanish, Italian and Portuguese properties.

Book your holiday:

Hotels in Spain

Car Hire in Spain

Organised Tours in Spain

Buying property in Spain

Choosing the right location

Buying as an investment

Must I use an agent?

Must I use a lawyer?

Buying "off-plan"

The importance of learning Spanish

Retiring in Spain

Buying with a community

Costs of buying

And finally ....

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