BUYING PROPERTY IN SPAIN
Purchasing property in Spain is a relatively straightforward procedure. The “last word” in property ownership is the property registry, which will show immediately if the seller owns the property free of liens and encumbrances. Most frequently, unless an immediate payment of the full purchase price is made, a private contract of purchase is drawn up wherein the details of the purchase are reflected – the legal description of the property, purchase price, form of payment, date of completion, date of possession, etc. Upon signing the private contract, a payment on account of the purchase price is always made which can vary substantially according to the terms of the sale and the date of completion. A quite normal deposit for completion within 30 to 60 days would be 10% of the agreed purchase price.
New properties which are unfinished obviously are paid for over the construction period, and all payments on account before finishing must be guaranteed, according to the BUILDING ORDENANCE LAW (LOE), LAW 38/1999, by a bank or insurance company: if the property is not finished by a certain date, a purchaser has the right to reclaim the monies paid, plus legal interests. Additionally, this law obliges the property developer to arrange a TEN YEAR insurance policy with respect to any basic building defects with the purchasers as beneficiaries.
When the entire purchase price is paid for the property, the seller will issue the public deed of conveyance (escritura) to the purchaser, free of liens and encumbrances. This deed is issued before a Spanish Notary, is passed from the notary to the tax office to be assessed for stamp duty if the property is a resale or second hand property, and then presented to the Property Registry for inscription. A provisional inscription in the registry is made immediately upon issuance of the deeds.
Property Purchase Costs
1A. Transfer Tax (I.T.P.) scaled at 8%, 9% & 10% - Payable by the buyer for the purchase of any real estate (villas, flats, land, commercial premises, garages), provided the vendor is not a developer or normally trading in the business of resale properties.
If the “minimum fiscal value” of the property, as per the Regional Government, is greater than the price, then the minimum fiscal valuation applies: 8% is applicable up to the amount of 400,000€ or 30,000€ in the case of garages except those belonging to the dwelling and with a maximum of two; 9% is applicable to the amount between 400,000€ and 700,000€ or between 30,000€ and 50,000€ for garages; 10% is applicable to the amount exceeding 700,000€ or 50,000€ for garages.
Example for a property of 1,250,000€
Up to 400,000€ - 8% = ......................................................32,000€
On 300,000€ (400,000€ to 700,000€) - 9% = ....................27,000€
Excess 550,000€ (700,000€ to 1,250,000€) – 10% = ........55,000€
Total = ..............................................................................114,000€
1B. VAT at 10% and STAMP DUTY at 1.2% - For any VILLA or APARTMENT, or GARAGE that is annexed to an apartment, where the vendor is a developer, promoter or habitual trader for BRAND NEW PROPERTIES.
1C. VAT at 21% and STAMP DUTY at 1.2% - for PARCELS OF LAND, COMMERCIAL PREMISES or COMMERCIAL GARAGE SPACES, where the vendor is a developer, promoter or habitual trader. This covers virtually all NEWLY URBANIZED LAND PARCELS and NEWLY BUILT COMMERCIAL PREMISES. This only covers resale properties when the vendor falls into one of the above categories.
2. Notary fees and property registry inscription fees. Notary fees can cost up to approximately €1.750 although the cost increases according to the number of pages or complexity of the title deed (e.g. transcription of statutes, payment in stages, property partially finished, etc.). As an example, an apartment costing €300,000 will cost around €546 in notary fees, whilst a property costing €600,000 will cost around €678 in notary fees. Any higher than this amount, the fees go up marginally. The property registry inscription fees also depend on the complexity of the transaction. For example, fees for an apartment costing €600.000 to be registered in the name of one person and purchased without a mortgage loan, will cost around €300. For an apartment with the same sales price to be registered in the name of 2 persons and purchased with a mortgage loan, will cost around €800.
3. Municipal Added Value Tax (Plus valía). This is an “added value” tax based upon the increase of the Town Hall index value of the land only, from the prior (vendor’s) purchase to the present sale. It is usually not a significant amount with respect to apartments or townhouses – less than €1000 for the most part for an apartment or townhouse which last changed hands five or six years ago – but can be more in the case of villas with a large tract of land.
This tax corresponds, by its nature, to the vendor who is responsible for its payment, unless otherwise negotiated. As there are several variable factors used in calculating this tax, especially the length of time of ownership of the property, the amount payable can vary substantially and should be verified before proceeding with the purchase.
When you are buying in Benahavis, you will notice that the plus valia is a lot less tan you would pay in Marbella or Estepona for a similar property.