Pitfalls to Avoid Before The Purchase

You may think that buying a home in Spain is similar to buying in your home country however it is not.  The laws, the standards and the procedures as to the purchase of a property in Spain are very different.  Not to mention the potential scams!

Our purpose is to clarify and help you with the most complete list of what you will face before, during and after buying a home in Spain. Our main recommendation is that a competent Real Estate Advisor accompanies you as you go through the purchase process. They are responsible for visiting and selecting real estate that corresponds to your wishes, they are responsible for the negotiation of the price of the sale, the control of the legal and contractual aspects, they are also the facilitator of the financing and, could assist in overseeing improvements or needed updates, once the purchase is made. We are at your available at your convince with these services which will save you time and money. Do not hesitate to contact us. Send us an email spainpurchase@yahoo.com.
In this article, we present what to be thinking about before the purchase. In a different article, we discussed the pitfalls to avoid during the purchase and, in a third, pitfalls to avoid after the purchase. Good reading! 

The Pitfalls to Avoid During the Purchase

The Pitfalls to Avoid After the Purchase

What to think about before the purchase
We will share best practices, mistakes to avoid and information on scams to be aware of, from the selection of your property to signing and closing.


This is the moment of research; your first reflex is to go to websites for the Spanish real estate market. And then you start dreaming, but did you define what you want and the budget you have?
Don’t make the mistake to surf the web, look at hundreds of apartments and villas on the screen across Spain … and of course it’s a waste of time! For example, how will you go to visit properties that are often hundreds of kilometers away from each other?
Before embarking on Internet searches, the most important element is location, location, location.   You must first define in which area, in which city and even in which neighborhood you want to live, whether you want a home in the city center, on the outskirts, in the interior, or by the sea …
When you have defined the location, and then think about checking:
accessibility: what is the travel time from your main home? Is there an airport nearby and sufficient air frequencies at reasonable prices? Do you need a vehicle locally to get around?
Proximity to services: Publictransportation, grocery stores, food services, health care and recreation, the beach, etc.
Educational institutions of your children if you wish to make Spain your main home: distance to colleges, high schools or day care
For all this information, Google Maps will be very useful. All this will help you define your search area.
And remember, in some areas, fall, winter and early spring can be downright depressing.
Also take the time to define what you are looking for in the desired property: the style of the property, the square meters, (how property is measured in Europe), the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, air conditioning, terrace, swimming pool, garden, view, garage are the most usual criteria. 


Can you visit all the properties you have selected? Obviously no! Or if you do, it will cost you a lot of time and money.
Like many people who want to buy in Spain, you think he laws are identical to those of your country. This is a big mistake: know that the laws, the rules and the administrations are different but also vary according to the autonomous regions of Spain.
To want to do everything alone before the purchase will generate for you in the end more expenses, more time and more worries…
In the real estate sector in Spain, the main difference is the role of the notary: it is essential to know that the Spanish notaries have absolutely the same role as the German notaries who carry out all the legal and urbanistic checks on the property before the sale. These tasks are done by Escrow and Title companies in the US and by Solicitors in the United Kingdom.  The buyer must carry out these verifications in Spain beforehand, or if necessary by a professional advisor, who will have to ensure that the national, regional and local legal, administrative and urbanistic rules have been respected. 
To summarize, the role of Spanish notaries is reduced to that of the editor and the registration chamber of the deed of sale. We will discuss this further in the article during the purchase phase.
But there are also other important differences in real estate in Spain:
The Spanish m2 is equivalent to 11 square feet.  So a 100-m2 apartment is equal to 1100 square feet.
You also think that the surfaces displayed in the ads are the same as in your country. In Spain, the area of ​​space mentioned by the owners and agencies is most often the area built including the common areas. So be careful, because an apartment in Spain announced with an area of ​​100 m2 can be a floor space of 80 m2 or a living area of ​​70 m2, or less. It is obvious that the price per m2 varies widely. Before buying, take out your tape measure or enlist the help of a Real Estate Advisor!
Another way to work with real estate agencies
Real estate agencies have no exclusivity in Spain. A new construction project can be sold by several agencies, but the prices are the same for everyone. If the price offered by one agency is lower than the others, you must be wary. Some agencies mention the introductory price on their website and “forget” to adapt it later.  By contrast, for non-new, you can have prices that differ from one agency to another, from one website to another, and even between agencies and the owner!  Spanish agencies do not require a license and do not have professional insurance, except in a few rare autonomous communities (including Catalonia)
Real estate agencies with “double commission”!
Beyond the advertised selling price, some agencies charge a commission to the seller and another to the buyer, especially if it is foreigner. Under no circumstances should this system be accepted. The advertised selling price must include everything.

A special “foreign” price!

Some property and real estate agencies are especially geared towards foreign buyers. These agencies sometimes benefit from the lack of knowledge of the buyer of real market prices. It is essential to know the local property prices of similar properties in order to start trading on the best possible basis. Today, in Spain, with a few rare exceptions (center of Madrid or until September of Barcelona, ​​Balearic Islands) the price displayed is almost always negotiable. The trading margin can vary from 5% to 20% depending on the price displayed.


You make the mistake of only thinking about the price of housing and not to consider additional costs of the purchase contract, renovation, maintenance … and the monthly fees that you will have to support to maintain your standard of living (mortgages, travel and expenses). Not doing the right calculations before buying can be a big mistake that will delay you to get the home you want.
Many people forget to add to the purchase price of a second-hand home from 10% to 15% for associated costs: taxes, notary services, legal fees and/or real estate advisers, entries in the register of property and the register of deeds, mortgage fees (if any).  Do not forget moving and installation costs.
For an acquisition of a new built property, it will be necessary to add 10% of VAT Value Added Tax (IVA in Spain).
Also, other fees will come into play after the acquisition. You will need to furnish your accommodation. You will have to insure monthly mortgage payments (pay attention to variations if you have taken a variable rate loan), fixed and variable co-ownership fees, local taxes (IBI, annual property tax of 100 to 200 euros per 100.000 euros), electricity, water, gas, telephone or internet charges, maintenance costs of the pool and garden of your villa, insurance and various repairs…
Count a global financial need of 120% of the sale price for a home without renovation and up to 150% for a home with renovation.


Obviously, most people who want to buy a home do not think about reselling before buying. This is another mistake because you never know what can happen: you can no longer deal with mortgages, you too longer like your home or its location, you want to invest in a new home, you separate from your spouse you lose your job, etc.
Choose the homes that are the most sought after and which will be the easiest to sell. These are small apartments (between 60 and 100 m2), in large cities or by the sea, with two or three bedrooms, two bathrooms, a terrace and a beautiful view (a terrace is a plus). It will also depend on the area and use. It can also be a studio or an apartment with a bedroom and bathroom, these are the easiest to rent for tourist use. But also very large apartments (more than 300 m2) in the central areas of Barcelona and Madrid.


From abroad, the Internet is an excellent ally for identifying interesting real estate. Unfortunately, some real estate agencies resort to misleading practices such as the publication of very attractive properties at a good price but are no longer for sale, in order to attract the interest of potential buyers and try to sell them another property (think bait and switch). Or they use beautiful photos that do not reflect the reality of the property and its environment.
Visiting is obviously an essential step before buying. You have made your selection of housing and you will visit them in person.  But you have little time, 2 or 3 days, so you concentrate all your visits on this short period. You will not be able to visit and control more than 5 or 6 properties per day. It takes more than 30 minutes to judge a house: there is a whole series of physical controls to realize the environment to appreciate and to know in detail the situation of the building (last renovation, works to achieve, etc.), community conditions and rules (in the case of a condominium or apartment) and the maintenance and maintenance costs (electricity, water, swimming pool, garden, condominium fees, etc.). You will also need to review the private and public housing documentation.
Doing an analysis of the local market, especially selling prices, is mandatory. A first analysis can be made with real estate sites offering housing with similar characteristics. Companies are also specialized in housing price assessments.


Foreigners’ visits of property are often far too fast, due to lack of time and organization, which makes it impossible to appreciate the “disadvantages” of the Spanish real estate market.
Moisture in the Soil
The villa on the beach, everyone dreams of, but it can quickly turn into a nightmare. Many seaside houses have been built on muddy land taken from the sea or without crawlspaces or slabs. Result: a permanent level of humidity, regardless of the season, that comes up from the ground and that makes your life hell. And when you visit a property in the summer, you do not really see it. The ideal is a villa near the beach (you can walk there) but a little on the heights.
Outsized connections
Always for villas, check that your electricity and water connections are up to standard! To you, they seem correct, but you may consider bringing in a professional, they will be considered illegal and even dangerous.
Quality of construction that leaves something to be desired
In some buildings of the 1990s, the materials used do not meet the standards and are not always made to last.
The environment is changing
Avoid buying near wasteland. Always observe the environment and go before you make Ann offer to the town hall to consult the Land Use Plan or future urban projects. The view seems amazing, but did you think to check the future urban planning projects in the town, and in particular this building which will obstruct you the sight in 2 or 3 years or this future express road which will pass in front of you!
Avoid empty buildings and lots
Do not buy in a building or a new subdivision that is empty, even if the price is very interesting. In particular, all banks will offer from the outset what kind of property they want to get rid of. The price will be attractive, but the building or subdivision can take years to complete, the developer can go bankrupt and you will be the only one or one of the only ones to pay the charges of condominium that you will end up not paying anymore. At best these properties will end up in social housing, at worst filled with squatters.
Soundproofing that leaves something to be desired
A big fault of many buildings in Spain is the soundproofing. Very often poorly done, you hear everything your neighbor does in the bathroom or … in his room. So avoid huge towers or neighbors up and down on the right and left surround you. Also avoid choosing a home above a business or bar otherwise you will have huge regrets.
Protect yourself from the sun!
Have you thought about orientation? We think very often sun and therefore exposure to the south when we want to buy in Spain, but believe us, we must also think fresh space for the summer. Does it have some shade, do the windows need to be upgraded to block the sun to protect the furnishings
Check the destination of the use of the property before the purchase.
A small passage in the cadastre (register of property showing the extent, value, and ownership of land for taxation.) can teach you that the loft on which you are interested in does not have a “cédula de habitabilidad” (certificate of housing) because this property is intended for a commercial or industrial use, and not a residential use. 
Outside large cities, it may also happen that houses were built on farmland; they are therefore illegal and can be demolished at any time! The bribes paid to the authorities have been there.
Check the price carefully
Does the price include parking and or storage?  Sometimes you have to buy a parking space separately, but this amount (15,000 or 20,000 euros for example) is not included in the price advertised by the agency.
Consider the susceptibility of the seller
Avoid criticizing or denigrating the property in front of the seller, some may take it badly and will not sell their property even if you offer a good price. Read Asterix in Hispania before coming to negotiate in Spain!


The impulse buying of a home is risky, but the opposite is true too, waiting too long before deciding, especially in the current Spanish competitive market.
Well that’s it; you found the accommodation that suits you. But you are still hesitating; perhaps it is still necessary to see other accommodations? What if your brother or sister, or your parents, your children, or your best friend also gave their opinion? What if we made the seller wait for him to lower his price? By of waiting, housing passes you before the eyes 


What is the alternative to avoid all the previous mistakes? It is quite simply, before the purchase, to address a real estate adviser, also called “real estate hunter” because it is someone who will search and will select the real estates for you, according to your needs and wishes, financial information you provided. The real estate advisor will save you a lot of time, it will avoid unpleasant surprises and very often it will help you save money before the purchase, during the purchase and after the purchase of your property.
During this phase of prospection, before the purchase, your real estate advisor will avoid all goes error free: in particular, he will take into account the environment of the property, he will check the physical condition of the property, but also their legal and economic situation, it will make a price estimate with respect to the area. At the end of this phase, it will offer you a list of housing to visit with all the necessary information and availability and you can then choose on site your future accommodation in Spain with full knowledge of the facts.
For your peace of mind, the Real Estate Advisor is required before the purchase, during the purchase and after the purchase.
Real Estate Advisor, this is our business please contact us by sending an email to spainpurchase@yahoo.com or fill out the form.
Other Articles:
The Pitfalls to Avoid During the Purchase
The Pitfalls to Avoid After the Purchase


With more than 20 years of experience in real estate acquisition procedures in Spain, we are at your disposal to assist you with all the necessary steps when buying a home in Spain, from the search for a property to services offered after the acquisition. Organizing the visits of properties, the legal verification of the properties, the obtaining of a mortgage, the administrative procedures and the signature of the different notarized documents.

Do not hesitate to contact us!

Send an email to spainpurchase@yahoo.com


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