So you've found your trusted legal adviser, to guide you in your quest to find the perfect Spanish property. But what's next? In part 2 of this article series, Spanish property solicitor Susana Lajusticia, takes us through the necessary next steps and beyond.
1. Review the ownership structure at the outset
There are many options available when it comes to the ownership structure and there is no ‘one-fits–all’ structure. Options to consider range from personal ownership to also including family members or life interests, and to corporate structures including Spanish and UK companies. Your Spanish lawyer will assist you, liaising also with your accountant, to decide on the best option for you.
2. Check any charges on the property and outstanding debts
When you purchase your dream Spanish property you want to be sure that there are no hidden burdens, charges or debts. You will not want the nasty surprise of a property that is mortgaged where the charge has not been removed or where there is a right of way over the garden or any other unwanted charge that may affect the use and enjoyment of your dream home in the sun.
3. Consider a survey on the property
Any buyer will also want that the property that they are purchasing is in a good condition. Sometimes the purchaser may be satisfied with the general overall good aspect and condition of the property; however, this should not be overestimated. An architect will spot things or potential defects that you, as a purchaser, may not see or consider.
It is also not unusual for the areas of a property to be inconsistent with the information registered at the local land registry. Having an independent survey will flag any discrepancies between the real areas and those actually registered.
As part of the survey report, the architect will also usually value the property. This will help you confirm whether the price that you are prepared to pay is what you should be paying!
4. Contact a currency exchange company to obtain a quote for the exchange rate/purchase of Euros and compare with your bank
Exchange rates fluctuate constantly, so it’s advisable to contact a currency exchange company and obtain a quote for the exchange rate that they could offer. You could then compare this with the rate offered by your bank and see if this would be more attractive. It would not be the same if you were purchasing only a small amount of Euros than if you were investing a large amount of money; however, no matter how small or large the savings are, they are always savings that you are making and that can be invested in your new Spanish home!
5. Obtain an NIE
Everyone with an economic interest in Spain needs to have an NIE. An NIE is a number which is allocated by the Spanish authorities and that it is required to purchase property in Spain or open a Spanish bank account.
6. Open a Spanish bank account
It is recommended that a Spanish bank account is opened before you complete your purchase as you might need to transfer part or all of the purchase funds to your Spanish account in order to organise the completion of the Spanish purchase. Other options may be available, but the most common way of paying the purchase price of the Spanish purchase price is by way of a Spanish bank draft and therefore you will need to have the Spanish bank account ready and operative before the completion of the purchase of your Spanish property. Your Spanish lawyer will be able to assist you on this and discuss the different options available.
The account will also be of good use to organise all the relevant direct debits for all the house utility supplies, local council tax, communal/management fees, etc.
7. Obtain succession advice and organise inheritance tax planning
Everyone’s personal, family and financial circumstances are different. It is important that you discuss this with your Spanish lawyer from the outset and make sure that the ownership structure that it is put in place and your future plans related to your Spanish property work well together and in the most tax-efficient way. Your Spanish lawyer will need to obtain some personal information from you and your UK accountant tax advisor, if applicable, so that they can work together.
8. Consider a Spanish Will
Your Spanish lawyer will be able to assist you organising your Spanish Will. Spanish Wills can be executed in Spain or in the UK, and once your Spanish lawyer knows about your personal circumstances, they will be able to advise you on the most suitable option for you. Whilst English Wills are accepted in Spain, a Spanish Will makes the Spanish Estate administration more straightforward and is one of the most popular options. However (and again, there is no ‘one solution fits all’), your Spanish lawyer would need to assess your particular case and position.
9. Check health insurance cover
One might assume that with Spain being an EU country, one would be covered for medical assistance in the same way as they would be at home. However, remember to do your homework and check that you either have private medicate insurance in place or the relevant EU health card before you travel to Spain. Also remember that travelling on holiday will not be the same as acquiring Spanish residency and that this may affect your medical cover.
10. Learn some Spanish
Last but not least, why not consider learning some Spanish? It is never too late to learn some basic Spanish, which no doubt will open new doors for you and allow you to interact with Spanish natives and make the most of your time in Spain!
To read part 1 of this series, please click here.
Contact our Spanish lawyer, Susana Lajusticia, for an initial free consultation and see how we might be of assistance on:
Tel: 07400 914 407 or 020 7152 6550
This article is for general information purposes only and does not constitute legal or professional advice. It should not be used as a substitute for legal advice relating to your particular circumstances. Please note that the law may have changed since the date of this article.