Buying a property abroad can often be confusing as you find yourself confronted with foreign laws, customs and guidelines. We highly recommend that all potential buyers seek out advice and guidance, because if the correct procedures are not followed, it can lead to serious issues, disputes and unnecessary headaches.
At Roper Properties, our in-depth knowledge of the Lanzarote property market makes us perfectly equipped to offer advice on a range of factors involved in the purchase of property abroad. Our advice is informed by up-to-the-minute knowledge and awareness of developments in the local market gained through our privileged, hands-on position based in the Canaries. We offer our clients guidance throughout the entire purchasing process, ensuring a smooth, safe and hassle-free transaction.
We’ve set out the guide below to help our clients to understand what will typically be involved in the purchasing process.
A step-by-step guide to the property purchase process
Choose a property: First of all, you choose the property you wish to buy! Take your time with this and do your research as it’s clearly an important decision. Not only can we help you find a suitable property, but we’ll also help you to understand the crucial factors involved. We’ll provide a clear breakdown on all the relevant costs (solicitors, title deeds, etc) to ensure you understand every stage of the process and every penny that you spend.
Check that it’s a clear and unhampered title: All disputes or liens over titles are registered at the land registry and it is therefore always advisable to ensure that a clear and unhampered title exists prior to entering into any commitment or signing any contract. Again, we can give advice you on this.
Open a Spanish bank account and transfer funds (if required): We recommend doing this in the early stages of purchase to ensure that any transfer of money from foreign banks will be received in good time. We will accompany you to open a bank account suitable to your transaction and ensure that you fill out all the necessary forms to enable the currency to be transferred. If your Spanish isn’t perfect don’t worry – we can help you with that too!
On completion of this part of the process, you will be asked to present a certificate to the Notary issued by a Spanish bank; this will certify the receipt of foreign currency within your Euros account, which is specifically to the value of property being purchased as shown in the escritura. This declared value will not necessarily coincide with the total amount being paid, as the full purchase price may include furnishings (it is not required by law to include this within the declared property value).
Exchange contracts and pay deposit: At this point, you sign a contract for the purchase of the property, and pay any deposit required to the vendor or agent. Most agent contracts are standard but we can recommend a lawyer to advise in cases where a purchase is particularly complex. We would always recommend dealing with a Spanish or international lawyer as the laws in Spain are very different from those in the UK.
Sign escritura and final payment: Under the terms of the contract, a completion date will have been agreed. Completion involves the signing of the deed document (escritura) by both the vendor and the purchaser. Both parties must sign at the same time, in the presence of a Spanish Notary. (Where it not possible for both parties to be present, a Power of Attorney can be granted in favour of their lawyer). This will not necessarily take place at the Notary’s office in the locality of the property or in Spain, but if it is not then it may lead to delays in the registration of the title.
It is obligatory to retain three per cent of the price declared in the Title Deed in some purchases, which must be passed on to the Tax Department on behalf of the seller to cover any tax liability that they may have. This does not apply if the seller is resident in Spain. It is obligatory for a non-resident to appoint a qualified tax representative in Spain. Again, this is where we can guide you through the process.
Make intermediary payments (if applicable): As a purchaser, you will usually be required to pay the notary cost, registration fees and transfer tax. These normally amount to about eight per cent of the total purchase price.
Registration of the new title: Once the escritura has been signed by both parties and the documents have been processed by the Notary (normally 14 days), the document must be presented to the Land Registry where the new title will be registered including the new ownership, while registration fees and transfer taxes must be paid. This part will take approximately two months.
With our purchase plan you will receive a range of dedicated services customised to your individual situation and requirements. Our services include the completion of all necessary paperwork relating to the smooth running of your property: electric, water, rates, rubbish collection and so on.
We will also provide assistance and advice regarding the following processes:
Rates. Annual rates must be paid between September and November. On any new property, the purchaser will be notified of the first payment and must take care of each one thereafter. Fines for late payment are usually levied at 20% per annum.
Contract. After the form of payment is decided, we will draw up a contract between you and the seller stating the fixed price of the property and payment dates.
Security. In all cases of property purchase, the title deed will be signed on final payment for the property to ensure the highest levels of security.
Insurance. We will take care of all of your insurance needs. Residential property should be insured for both external structure and internal contents. While most apartments are covered by the community insurance policy for the external structure, separate contents insurance must still be taken out.
Tax. We will assist you in choosing an experienced tax consultant to help you make the compulsory annual tax declaration.
Household utilities. Property owners must make the necessary arrangements to have bills paid through their Spanish bank account as electricity and water bills are not sent to foreign addresses. This procedure will involve the completion of direct debit mandates for electricity and water companies (UNELCO & CANAL GESTION).
Community Service. All apartment blocks form a community and there is a monthly maintenance charge, which will vary in price depending on the services provided. It is always best to check what this charge covers before purchasing a property. We can help you make these enquiries.
Private Administration. Management companies will carry out this service for a reasonable monthly charge. This will also ensure that property owners have a contact on the island to deal with any problems that may arise during their absence.
Technical Service. Our experienced technical services department will attend to every client’s needs, from small repairs and electrical work to reformation of your property. We can also offer estimates for the construction of a new property and full supervision during your absence, giving you peace of mind at all times.
Wills. If you have made a Will in the UK which includes the property you have purchased in Spain, then this will be sufficient, providing it has been correctly processed through the local Spanish Consulate. If you don’t have a Will, we can help you to complete the necessary paperwork to cover your purchased property.
For EU residents, there are no longer any exchange control regulations that affect the purchase of property outside the scheduled territories. Individuals or companies are free to invest in as many properties as they wish.
For non-EU residents, there are no restrictions applicable to property purchase. However, it is strongly advised to check the Exchange Control and similar controls that may apply to property purchase outside their country of residence.
Please note that all properties are sold freehold and extreme caution should be taken to ascertain legal ownership when purchasing a bar or similar premises. Some commercial properties are freehold and the procedure for purchase is identical to that of a private home.
In this guide, we have covered the issues most commonly encountered by purchasers. Please contact us for further information regarding your individual purchase as we are perfectly positioned to advise on every aspect of the sales process.
We are trustworthy and reliable and we care are about every single one of our clients! That’s why we guarantee you will receive a top-quality service in a friendly environment to cover all your property purchase queries.