Whatever your reasons for selling your property, this is probably the first time that you have sold a property in Spain, or even abroad. We have put this guide together to help you understand a little more about the process of selling in Spain.
This guide is aimed at providing some basic information about selling in Spain and tries to answer the majority of the common questions that we are asked about. Although we hope that you will find it useful it is important to remember that it doesn’t cover all legal issues involved and certainly isn’t a step by step DIY guide to selling in Spain.
We have also put together a list of useful Spanish legal terms and their English translations, to help make navigating legal issues in Spain a little easier.
While we hope this guide helps you to see what is involved in selling a Spanish property, we do strongly recommend that you seek advice from a professional before proceeding. After all, as specialist Spanish property lawyers, we do this every day and have been doing so for many years and therefore know all the tricks and pitfalls that you may come across.
We also know the practical solutions to the problems that exist and how Spanish Law interacts with UK law, so can help your sale to go smoothly and ensure you meet all the requirements of both countries’ laws.
For specific advice on selling Spanish property tailored to your needs, please get in touch with our friendly, expert Spanish property lawyers based in the UK.
Selling property in Spain FAQs
Is the legal system in Spain the same as the UK?
No, they are very different, but there is an interaction between them when you buy or sell a property in Spain. That is why the best person to advise you on your sale in Spain is somebody who understands both Spanish and UK law.
Do I need a lawyer to help me sell in Spain?
No, you don’t – just like you don’t necessarily need a lawyer when selling in the UK. However, in reality you would always use a lawyer when selling in the UK, so what is so different about selling in another country where you probably don’t have experience of buying before?
I have been told that I don’t need a lawyer to sell property in Spain, but need a Notary. Is this true?
The Notary is important in Spain but tends only to get involved at the end of the transaction. Their role is to carry out some basic checks at the end and attend to the signature of the title deed and in some cases to register the property. They don’t normally advise on whether the contract is OK to sign, the tax implications of selling the property and so on.
Do I need to be in Spain to complete the sale?
Both the buyer and seller or their representatives need to be together in front of the Notary to sign the title deeds. This can be done in the UK or in Spain. If you are not able to attend then we can arrange for somebody to represent you under a Power of Attorney.
Take a look at our guide to using a power of attorney to buy and sell property Spain.
Are the costs of selling property in Spain higher than in the UK?
Yes, the total costs in addition to the purchase price are higher than you will be used to in the UK. It is therefore important to factor these into your budget from the beginning. Luckily property prices are currently rock bottom which not only reduces some of these costs but also makes the purchase price much cheaper.
How are Spanish properties valued?
In today’s market, it can often be difficult to identify the value of your property and what price to ask for it.
In Spain there are various types of valuations ranging from a low-cost valuation carried out by an estate agent to an official formal valuation (which will carry a fee). If you need assistance with valuing your property, we can put you in contact with people who can help.
In most cases an informal estate agent’s valuation is sufficient.
Do exchange rates make it more expensive to sell property in Spain?
When you are converting from one currency to another the difference between one exchange rate and another can literally make a difference of thousands of pounds on your purchase.
Do not underestimate the difference a good exchange rate can make, especially when converting from pounds to euros. We know people who have sold properties and made more money on the exchange rate difference than they have on the sale of their property.
We are not a bank or currency dealer, but would recommend that you investigate the cheapest way of sending your money abroad. If you would like we can put you in contact with currency dealers that we know will give you a good exchange rate and a good service.
Currency dealers have increasingly sophisticated products. You can agree rates for the future. You can get them advising you when to buy or agreeing to buy for you when the rate hits a certain level. You can even agree a fixed rate for longer periods of time if you make regular payments abroad (for example for a mortgage or moving your pension money).
We work with currency brokers who can give you a good exchange rate for your purchase and whom we have known for years. We will normally receive a commission for introducing them to you. This does not cost you anything more as they pay us part of what they make. This commission is costed into our overall charges for providing our services.
Is it worth converting a property to fractional ownership when selling in Spain?
If you are struggling to sell your Spanish property, then turning into a Fractional Ownership property may be a way of making the purchase by others more affordable and can even mean that you can keep part of the property should you wish to.
Fractional Ownership is not a new concept and has been around for many years – although back then we called it Co-ownership.
Put simply Fractional Ownership is where several people buy a property together. This can be members of a family, friends, work colleagues or even complete strangers.
You buy a share in the property and also share the running costs.
The best Fractional Ownership schemes are those where the cost of buying is closest to the value of the actual share in the property – i.e. the ones where there are not huge margins built into the sale.
Timeshare is a type of Fractional Ownership but Fractional Ownership is not necessarily Timeshare as there are strict definitions as to what Timeshare is.
What price should you declare on the title deeds when selling a Spanish property?
For many years in Spain there was a practice of under declaring the value of the property in the title deeds (i.e. selling for one price but declaring a lower price in the official documentation). This was done in order to save tax for both the buyer and seller. If you have bought many years ago, it is probable that you were persuaded to do this.
Unsurprisingly the Spanish tax authorities have tightened up on this practice and it is inadvisable not to declare less than the actual value of the property. The Spanish Notary may actually refuse to sign the title deed (Escritura) if they believe that the value declared is less than the actual market value. Even if the Notary is willing to sign title deeds with an under declared property value, the authorities have four years to come back to you and challenge the amount declared. If they are successful, then they will raise a supplemental demand for the unpaid tax plus penalties and interest.
Tax on Spanish property sales
There are various tax considerations when selling property in Spain. This includes the retention “tax” the buyer has to pay to the tax authorities, which can reduce the amount you receive from the sale price in the short term, as well as the Capital Gains Tax you may need to pay in Spain and/or the UK.
To find out more, take a look at our guide to tax on Spanish property sales.
Our legal fees for selling property in Spain
We charge 1% of the purchase price subject to a minimum of £1,500. If the property title is defective or unexpected additional work is required, then there may be additional charges. We would inform you before incurring this cost.
Our charges include:
- Legal advice on the terms of your offer to sell
- Preparing the information and documentation required by the buyer
- Liaising with the seller’s lawyer
- Drafting the contract for sale
- Arranging for receipt of the deposit
- Obtaining certificate from the Community of Owners (if appropriate)
- Arranging the signature of the title deed
- Making sure that you receive the money
- Arranging payment of the relevant taxes
- Making sure that you are removed from the land Registry as the owner
- General hand holding and advice throughout the transaction
Other work required may include obtaining NIE numbers, signing the title deed on your behalf, transfer of utility contracts etc. which attract a separate charge.
Why use Judicare for selling property in Spain?
We have an experienced Spanish legal team comprising Spanish lawyers and English lawyers who have studied Spanish law.
We are UK-regulated Solicitors
We are a UK based firm of Solicitors regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority and who specialise in international legal issues.
We understand both Spanish and UK law
Because we understand both English and Spanish law, we understand the difficulties that come when two sets of laws meet. This is particularly important when it comes to issues involving ownership, taxation and inheritance.
We are members of AIPP
The Association of International Property Professionals was set up to improve standards of professionalism in a largely unregulated overseas property market.
Our Spanish team has many years of experience dealing with a whole range of legal issues with Spain.
We speak your language
You need a lawyer who can speak your own language. More importantly you need somebody who can explain and discuss often complicated issues in terms that you understand.
We are independent. We are not allowed to act for the buyer and the seller at the same time. We are not linked with any Development Companies, Builders or Estate Agents.
Need help selling property in Spain?
Our UK-based team of property lawyers are highly experienced in helping clients to buy and sell property in Spain, as well as handling a whole range of related issues, such as advice on Wills and inheritance.
With a thorough understanding of both UK and Spanish law, we can provide clear, reliable legal guidance in plain English, giving you the confidence to deal effectively with property in Spain.