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Should you consider paying money just to make an offer on a property in Spain?

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We have recently seen a number of estate agents in Spain asking prospective buyers to pay an amount of money to them before they will even put forward an offer on a property to the Seller.

Is this normal practice in Spain and is it necessary or advisable to comply?

So, how does this work?

You (the Buyer) are told that you have to pay an amount to the agent before they will put your offer forward to the Seller. The idea is that you are asked to sign a document which contains the offer and then pay the amount to the agent. The agent then holds on to the amount paid and passes the written offer on to the Seller. If the offer is accepted the amount paid by you goes towards the purchase price. If the offer is rejected the amount paid should be returned to you.

How much is being requested?

In the recent mid to high value purchases we have been instructed on; we have seen requests of anything between €5,000 to €35,000 - just to make an offer to the Seller!

Is it normal to pay money to make an offer on a property in Spain?

No, it is not normal in Spain to have to pay any money just to make an offer to the Seller. In fact, this is highly unusual. The fact that a number of agents in Spain might do this as standard practice does not make it the norm as far as buying a property in Spain is concerned. Even if it is “normal” to those agents. The vast majority of agents do not work in this way and this practice is very much an unusual way of proceeding.

Is it necessary to pay money to make an offer on a property in Spain?

No, there is no need to do this at all. The agent is perfectly capable of passing on an offer to the Seller without needing any payment at that stage.

Is it advisable to pay money to make an offer on a property in Spain?

No, it isn’t, and there can be various disadvantages to doing this.

  • Once you (the Buyer) have paid the money you will lose a certain amount of control over the process. You and your lawyer will then be on the back foot all the way through the transaction as the agent and the Seller know that they will be able to dictate terms to you.
  • The corresponding offer document is likely to contain things in it that you would ordinarily negotiate after searches on the property are carried out. Essentially you are setting out the backbone of the purchase contract at this stage, which is too early.
  • The Seller will know that you are keen to purchase the property and may therefore increase the minimum amount that they are willing to accept. 
  • If the offer is not accepted and the agent goes bust before returning your offer, then you are likely to lose your money.
  • If you are transferring Sterling to Euros and the money is returned to you in Sterling, you may end up with less money due to exchange rate losses and transfer charges. You may be fortunate and also end up with more but in the short term you are likely to lose out.
  • If the agent and Seller are going to insist on this then you can imagine how difficult they are going to be throughout the rest of the transaction.

So why do some agents do this?

There can be several reasons for agents to ask for payment just to make an offer on a property.

  • The reason given to you by the agent can actually sound quite persuasive – “The Seller will take your offer more seriously if you have paid something already”. However, a good agent will be able to check that you are serious without having to pay anything at this stage. They can make a judgement call based on the way that you act and the questions that you ask. That should be part of their skill as an estate agent. In extreme cases they can ask for some proof that you can afford the property and that you are indeed serious.
  • A reason however that you won’t be told about, is that this gets you “committed” to the purchase as soon as possible. The “offer” will normally come with a document of some sort which will set out the offer and will probably include things that are normally negotiated between the lawyers after the offer is accepted. If you commit to those points at this early stage, then it makes negotiating later more difficult, which is of course advantageous to the Seller and their agent.
  • It also means that they have your money, which gives them a certain amount of control over you. Even if that money is deemed “refundable” and you don’t proceed with the purchase, it is likely they will hold onto it until you have chosen another property in their portfolio. The result is you will feel invested with that agency and are much less likely to go and find a property with somebody else if your offer is not accepted.

In complicated negotiations where there has been a lot of discussion and the Seller needs to be “persuaded” then there might be an argument to say that this can help, but this is going to be very rare, and the agent should be able to have the same effect in other ways.

If you are in the process of purchasing a property in Spain and would like to understand the stages in more detail a member of our team will be happy to take your call on a confidential basis at 01438 840258 or via email to

We can also arrange a free no obligation teleconference via Zoom/Skype.

Getting in touch will allow us to understand your individual circumstances and discuss with you your concerns and objectives. Working with you we can then decide upon the correct strategy to approach and find the solution which is right for you and your property purchase.