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Locating to Sitges

In Spain the purchase of a Spanish property is a regulated process. To ensure that the Spanish property you wish to buy is free of debts and restrictive clauses, it is essential to employ an English-speaking lawyer or solicitor to protect your own interests. For anyone buying a property in Spain, the single most important piece of advice is to find a good solicitor who will thoroughly research the spanish property you intend to buy, and who can provide you with a Nota Simple. Do not simply rely on the estate agency, or the word of a friend. Make sure your solicitor checks the property registry, which will show immediately if the vendor owns the property and whether there is an outstanding mortgage (mortgages can be sold on with the property in Spain).

Legal process for buying a Spanish property

The legal side for buying a spanish property falls into two parts, the preliminary contract (Contrato privado de compraventa) and the completion contract (Escritura de compraventa).

Stage 1: Preliminary Contract (Contrato privado de compraventa)

Once a price has been agreed with the vendor both parties are best advised to sign a preliminary private sales contract, a Contrato privado de compraventa. However, before signing this preliminary sales contract proof that the vendor owns the property and that it is free of charges should be demanded. In Spain debts are charged to the property and any outstanding mortgage will be passed on to the purchaser. A Nota Simple will confirm if a property has any outstanding debts on it.

Then, unless you are paying in full and in cash immediately, a private preliminary sales contract (Contrato privado de compraventa) is drawn up containing all the details such as a description of the property, purchase price, and date of completion. At this stage you will be expected to pay a deposit of between 5% and 15% of the purchase price, and the estate agent will hold these funds in a bonded client account. If you intend to raise finance for the purchase this private preliminary sales agreement should have an arres agreement (i.e. a 10% deposit) and a date specified for completion. It is possible to sign the private preliminary sales contract without such a deposit and technically you are permitted to sue a vendor who subsequently withdraws but with an arres agreement in place. Should the vendor decide to withdraw you are entitled to twice their deposit as compensation.

Stage 2: Final Contract (Escritura de compraventa)

On the completion date the balance of the purchase price (sales price minus deposit) and all fees must be payable by the purchaser. The vendor and purchaser then sign the Escritura de compraventa contract, which is equivalent to the Deeds of the property. The purchaser is then issued with the public deed of conveyance (escritura) in front of a Notary Public, and a copy will then be passed to the tax office and on to the property registry. The Notary Public in Spain is a public official who will be required to witness the deed of sale, however expert, independent legal advice should be taken to protect your own interests.

Costs related to buying a Spanish property

The purchaser must pay the Notary’s legal fees and property sales taxes.

Property Sales Tax

The amount the purchaser pays will vary depending on the type of property and the nature of the vendor. If the vendor is a property developer the purchaser will pay 7% in VAT and 5% in AJT (stamp duty) unless the property is a piece of land or commercial property, in which case the purchaser will pay 16% VAT and 1% AJT (stamp duty). If the vendor is not a property developer, the purchaser will pay 7% in property transfer tax.

Plusvalia

Plusvalia is a tax levied by the local Town Hall based on the particular area where the property is located, on the surface area of the land, on the Catastral value and on the date of the previous title deed. This tax is essentially a tax on the increase in value of the land may range from a few approximately £12 to as much as £12,000 on larger properties with a lot of land. By law the vendor (seller) is obliged to pay this tax but it is common practise for the parties to negotiate on who is to assume this liability. If you are asked to pay this tax when buying a Spanish property, make sure you establish exactly how much it will be as it can vary substantially.

Notary’s legal fees

In addition to the property sales tax the purchaser also has to pay the Notary (usually between €400 and €800) and the property registry inscription fees (65% of the notary fee). If you take out a Spanish mortgage a further nominal cost will be passed on to you by your notary for registering the charge of the lender with the land registry.

Example breakdown of costs related to buying a Spanish property

The following table shows a typical total cost breakdown of purchasing a second hand Spanish property for €100,000.

Purchase price €100,000
Purchase tax €7,000
Notaries fees (€400 – €800) €800
Total €107,800

Differences between buying new and old Spanish properties

Due to the high demand for new Spanish property, most purchasers buy properties “from spec” from Spanish property developers. This means that the purchaser will buy new Spanish properties from the plans, and select which property they want within a particular development. Typically, purchasers who buy a new property have to make regular installments during key stages of the property development (opposed to paying for the property when it is complete), and an initial deposit of 5% to 10%. The initial deposit and regular installments vary from one Spanish property developer to anther. If you are buying a new Spanish property you do not own the property until the work is completed and you are in receipt of the relevant certificates.

Note: If you have to make regular stage payments to the Spanish property developer you should ensure that you receive bank guaranties for each payment. These bank guaranties protect you in the unlikely event that the Spanish property developer has financial difficulties before the property is transferred to your name.

NIE – Numero de Identificacion de Extranjeros

An NIE number is essentially a tax number for foreigners in Spain. You need one if you are going to buy a house or a car, if you are going to work for a Spanish company, or if you want to apply for residencia (a residency card). If you are an EU citizen, you no longer have to apply for your NIE number separately – you will be given one when you register as a foreign resident as detailed below.

Non-EU citizens still need to apply for an NIE number. To get one, you need to go to the extranjeros department at your nearest Comisaria (the police station for the national police force, not the local police).You will need to take your passport. The forms are fairly straightforward and you will have your NIE number within 2-6 weeks of applying.

Residencia

The rules on residencia cards in Spain have been changed several times recently.
Briefly, if you are an EU citizen, you must now register at your local Oficina de Extranjeros – usually in the local Comisaria. You will need to complete a form and pay a fee, and you will be rewarded with a certificate which shows your name, address and NIE number.

If you are not an EU citizen and you are not married to an EU citizen, then you will need:
* Proof of income (a job, pension etc. a healthy savings account will probably also work, but the actual amount you need is likely to vary from place to place.)
* Proof of social security registration or private medical insurance
* Your passport
* Finally if you are married and one of you will be dependent on the other, you will need your marriage certificate.

If you are not moving to one of the coastal areas you may need official translations of your documents. It’s a good idea to check.

About Medical Treatment in Spain

The Spanish health-care system is very good. Most hospitals are modern and well-equipped and the doctors and peadetricians are excellent. There are a few differences in policy between the British and Spanish health systems, but overall they are very similar. The biggest difference is the level of nursing care available in Spain. While Spanish nurses are well-trained and efficient, they simply do not perform many of the duties carried out by British nurses, and many tasks (particularly personal care and feeding) are carried out by the patient’s family instead. All hospitals allow one companion to be with the patient 24 hours a day. Visiting times vary for other visitors.

If you are planning to live in Spain then do remember that many medical staff do not speak English, even in resort areas. In some tourist towns a voluntary translation service is available for doctor’s appointments, but that will not be available at all times. It is a good idea to find out whether or not such a service exists in your local medical centre when you first arrive in Spain, and if so, at what times it
operates.

The emergency phone number in Spain is 112

Entitlement to free Healthcare

Before moving to Spain, you should make sure you apply for the new European Health Insurance card (EHIC), which replaces the old E111. Application forms are available either at the Post Office, or at the UK Department of Health website.

A EHIC will cover you for emergency healthcare treatment in Spain. It is really for tourists, but will ensure that you do not end up having to pay for treatment during your first few weeks or months in Spain. It will not cover you for most types of non-urgent treatment such as treatment for ongoing conditions, full maternity care or vaccinations and you should not rely on it if you are living in Spain.

If you are planning to retire to Spain, if you are unemployed before you leave the UK, if you are a student, or if you are self-employed and planning to work in Spain, then you will be entitled to 2 years worth of full healthcare. See The Department for Work and Pensions for details. NB With the forms you get from the DWP you’ll still need to get registered at the offices of the Spanish seguridad social. This process can take some time, so be sure to get your EHIC card anyway.

Private health insurance is widely available and on the coasts at least there are many schemes specifically aimed at British ex-pats. Do read your policy carefully though as you may find some things you will need are excluded. Some policies only cover you for emergency treatment in the home and/or an ambulance to the local hospital for example and you may find that you have to pay for the hospital treatment after you have received it.

Dentists

Most ambulatorios or centros de salud (health centres) have a dentist who will provide free treatment to people registered with the social security system. You may also find dentists offering emergency treatment in Spanish hospitals. We have received mixed reports about these dentists – some have complained about long waiting times and “brutal” treatment, others have praised the work. If you have any problems getting an appointment with the dentist at your local health centre, then private denatl treatment is widely available and prices are low compared to private treatment in the UK. For private dental work, expect to pay around 10 euros for a checkup, and 40-50 euros for a white filling.

Chemists

Many medicines that are prescription only in the UK are available over the counter in chemist’s shops in Spain, including Asthma inhalers and antibiotics. If you are registered for free healthcare under Spanish social security, you can get medicines you need on prescription for a 60% discount, or for nothing if you are a pensioner.

Useful Numbers

Outpatients: 93 894 75 78
Public Notice Cap: 93 894 64 26
Water Troubleshooting (SOREA): 902 250 370
Natural Gas: 900 750 750
Electricity Fecsa-Endesa: 902 536 536
Fire: 080
Medical Emergencies: 902 111 444
Taxis: 93 894 13 29 // 93 894 35 94
Court: 93 894 03 64
Police: 088
Local Police: Emergencies: 092
Hospital Sant Camil: 93 896 0025
Town Hall: 93 811 76 00
Post Office: 93 894 12 74
Renfe Trains: 902 240 202
Information: 11888// 11822// 11811