Buying or selling in Spain means taking account of the taxes you will have to pay as well as the cost of the agents and solicitors you will need to use. When you are estimating the money you need for either buying or selling a Spanish property it’s important to take everything into consideration. It can be persuasive if your Spanish estate agent suggests that you don’t need a solicitor in Spain or you hear of others who have sold their property privately. Do you really need both?
The estate agent
For many people, wanting to buy or sell a home means going to a Spanish estate agent first. They are the people who advertise your property, displaying it to its best advantage. But charging anything between 5 and 10% commission are they really good value for money? They certainly are if they achieve the sale you want at the price you want but there are some important guidelines you should follow:
Estate agents are not regulated by law in Spain. If the estate agent you have selected is a small enterprise check that it is a member of a professional association such as the Agente de Propiedad Inmobiliaria (API) or Expertos Inmobiliarios. Ask to see the agent’s registration number and have it checked if you are unsure. Go for established agents with a good reputation. You can often ask around to find someone who has used one recently.
Only pay your estate agent’s fees on completion and never before you sign the title deeds. Don’t let yourself be pressurised into purchasing a property. Estate agents are very good at selling – it’s their job! Take your time and return back to view a property as many times as you need to.
Horses for courses
Some estate agents will try to convince you that they can do everything for you from finding your property to signing contracts. When it comes to the legalities these should be left in the hands of a solicitor. You wouldn’t expect an estate agent in your home country to arrange contract exchange so why should you in Spain?
Keep your hand in your pocket
It’s not only signing that should be left to the solicitor, handing over your deposit should be too. Some unscrupulous estate agents have been known to ask for a deposit without even the seller knowing!
Keeping options open
Do not commit yourself to one estate agent in Spain. You can use as many as you like as well as offering your property privately. Whoever secures the final buyer is the estate agent who reaps the commission. In the end, in today’s market, you might be happy to pay a little bit more commission just in order to sell your property and move on.
If you do use more than one estate agent be careful that your house doesn’t end up on the market advertised at different prices. This doesn’t create a very good impression.
Now it’s the turn of the solicitor. Are we really indispensable?
For the buyer – a solicitor does a thorough search of the land registry to make sure that everything is in order, that all works or modifications to the house are legal and that there are no debts held against it. Your solicitor will check out that the estate agent is properly authorised to act on behalf of the client.
For example, is it agreed that the estate agent will collect a deposit or sign a contract? Preparing the contract is particularly important. A good solicitor will make sure that your contract protects your rights and your money. They will prepare for the signing of the title deed, representing you at the notaries and registering your property ownership at the Spanish Land Registry.
For the seller - help is needed to make sure that all taxes are paid correctly and for non-residents this includes the payment of 3% retention until the total for capital gains is verified. A good solicitor will see you through the whole process – not just to the end of the sale. Perhaps not quite such a long list as for the buyer, but still absolutely essential if your sale is to go through smoothly and you are to receive all the money owing too you.
And to conclude...
For some people estate agents are an essential part of the buying and selling process. They can display your property to best effect and know all the tricks of the trade. However, they come at a price - one that some people feel they can do without. The solicitor, however, really is an essential part of the buying and selling process. With so many things that could go wrong investing in a good solicitor must be a top priority.