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Buying Property in Spain as a Foreigner from UK

Buying Property in Spain as a Foreigner from UK

Are you thinking of buying property in Spain?

It’s no surprise that Spain remains a top destination for Brits seeking a change of scenery or a sunny retreat.

The allure of the almost constant Spanish sun is certainly appealing!

Whether it’s retiring to the coast, investing in a holiday home, or immersing oneself in the vibrant culture of cities like Madrid, Barcelona, or Valencia, there’s something for everyone in Spain.

And with the continued interest in property purchases and relocation, it seems this trend is here to stay.

Despite the changes that Brexit has brought about, buying a home in Spain is not impossible and there is a thriving community of British ex-pats to prove it.

Buying a home in Spain as a foreigner from the UK poses a challenge, yes, but many Brits are still managing to purchase homes all over the country.

If you are a UK citizen considering a move to Spain or want to buy a holiday property there, our guide covers the process and some of the many stunning places that are available to you.

About Spain’s Property Market

Spain property market

Spain’s property market is extremely diverse. Image credit: Unsplash

Overall, the Spanish property market has performed well over the past two years.

At the end of 2023, there was a slight dip in transactions, however, 2024 has seen an uptrend with homes maintaining their values.

Locations such as Barcelona and Madrid have performed particularly well with increases of around 8.2%.

Demand outstrips supply in many cases which has driven up prices higher than expected in 2024.

However, some experts also believe that this unprecedented demand for property may end up exhausting itself by the end of 2024, helping to moderate prices and offer more opportunities for property purchases.

Can UK Ex-pats Purchase a Home in Spain?

Yes, British expats can legally buy a home anywhere in Spain.

Despite the UK no longer being part of the EU, the process and costs for Brits purchasing property in Spain remain largely unchanged.

It is important to remember that British citizens can only stay without a residence permit in Spain for 90 days within 180 days.

To stay in the country full-time, you must apply for citizenship.

The requirement for a Spanish tax number, known as the Número de Identidad de Extranjero (NIE), is still necessary for property transactions and obtaining mortgages.

NIE facilitates tax obligations and identification for non-residents purchasing property in Spain.

So, whether you are a resident or not, having an NIE is a crucial step in the property-buying process in Spain.

Check out this easy-to-follow guide to getting your Spanish NIE number.

Spanish Property Prices

House prices in Spain

You may be surprised by the house prices in Spain compared to the UK. Image credit: Pixabay

You can expect to pay almost 50% less for a home in Spain than in England (aside from the country’s main cities), in some cases even less.

There are huge fluctuations across different regions offering buyers a wide range of property options at various price points. Which makes it possible to find something suitable for different budgets.

Overall, there are certainly bargains to be found in Spain, especially in less touristy areas.

As a price guide, in some areas, it is possible to purchase a two-bedroom townhouse for around €70,000 (£60,000)

Larger properties such as decent family-sized homes sell for as little as €114,000 (£98,000).

For the adventurous, there is a host of assorted properties that require extensive renovations for sale at ridiculously cheap prices.

The same applies to land. Spain is littered with land-buying opportunities.

Buying your own piece of real estate heaven in Spain doesn’t cost the earth!

Use a Local Real Estate Agent

No matter where you are looking to settle, there will be a local estate agent nearby.

Local agents have in-depth knowledge of the area, including specific neighbourhoods, market trends and amenities.

These agents often have access to properties that may not be listed on national platforms.

They have extensive networks and connections within the community, allowing them to find hidden gems or exclusive listings that match your criteria.

It is well worth taking the time to visit them and make yourself known as a serious potential buyer.

Plus, local agents are well-versed in local laws, regulations, and paperwork requirements, ensuring compliance and minimising potential risks or pitfalls.

As a local agent is often more invested in building long-term relationships with clients, they will alert you if the kind of property you are looking for comes onto the market.

Sometimes this gives you the edge over other buyers.

Step-by-Step Guide to the Spanish House Buying Process

Spanish flag and buildings

Here are the essential steps to follow when buying a property. Image credit: Pexels

Once you have done your investigations and have found the ideal location and home, you are ready to start the legal process of buying.

  • Offer & Negotiation. Make an offer on the property you have found through your agent. Negotiations may, and more often do take place regarding the price and terms of the sale.
  • Agreement. Once you have completed any negotiations, you’ll typically sign a reservation contract (contrato de reserva) and pay a reservation fee to secure the property. If you change your mind, you will not be refunded the fee. However, if the sale goes through to completion, it will be deducted from the total purchase price.
  • Searches. As with the UK, there are legal searches and checks carried out. This includes obtaining a “nota simple” (property registry report) to confirm ownership and any existing charges or encumbrances.
  • Purchase Contract. If searches and checks are satisfactory, the private purchase contract is signed (contrato de compraventa).
  • Mortgage Application (if applicable): If you’re financing the purchase with a mortgage, you’ll need to apply for a loan from a Spanish bank.
  • Completion (Escritura de Compraventa): On the completion date specified in the private purchase contract, both parties (buyer and seller) and their legal representatives will meet at the notary’s office to sign the escritura de compraventa (deed of sale). The remaining balance of the purchase price, as well as any applicable taxes and fees, is paid. The notary will then register the deed with the Spanish Land Registry.
  • Spanish Taxes. There will be various taxes and fees associated with the purchase. The property transfer tax (ITP or IVA), notary fees, land registry fees, and legal fees.
  • Post Purchase: Again, as with the UK following the sale, there will be some housekeeping to attend to. These include setting up your utilities, obtaining property insurance and the submission of your Spanish (NIE) for tax purposes.

This is a general guide to the property-buying process. It is important to be aware that some regulations can change from province to province.

Hire a Lawyer

It’s advisable to hire a lawyer or (abogado) specialising in real estate.

Your legal representative is there to help you navigate the intricacies of Spanish property purchase laws ensuring a smooth transaction and protecting your interests.

Most good lawyers will be able to speak both Spanish and English, which is a necessity because there are likely to be documents written in Spanish.

Lawyers will deal with issues such as checking the property registry (not simple) for any liens, encumbrances, or legal issues that could affect your ownership rights.

A knowledgeable lawyer will provide you with guidance on the applicable taxes and fees, helping you understand your financial obligations and avoid any surprises.

Any disputes or anomalies that may arise during the search process are also dealt with by your lawyer, thereby minimising potential conflicts.

Ultimately, hiring a good property lawyer may cost you money, however, it provides peace of mind.

Knowing that you have a knowledgeable advocate working to safeguard your interests and guide you through the sometimes complex process of buying a home in Spain will be priceless.

There a plenty of places to find a reputable law firm qualified to practice in Spain.

Finding Your Ideal Location

Marbella promenade

Marbella promenade, Image credit: Envato Elements

This part of your journey can be a bit of a challenge.

With Spain having a myriad of beautiful places to call home, it can make it difficult to narrow it down to just one.

The likelihood is you have holidayed in Spain before so have at least some indication of what area you like best.

Sitting down and making a list of your wants and needs can be helpful.

Do you want to live in a buzzing city? Do you want to enjoy Spain’s famous beaches? Does island life appeal to you?

Are you buying a home to retire to or are you buying a holiday home? Questions questions!

To help make it a little easier, we have selected seven great locations that might appeal to you:

Marbella

Located in Spain’s prestigious ‘Golden Triangle’. It is a dream location for many British expats, being an upscaled and extremely expensive to live here with many homes costing millions of Euros. Nonetheless, it is a stunning area boasting a buzzing nightlife and lots to do.

Torrevieja

A firm favourite with retirees, this Costa Blanca town is blessed with plenty of waterside bars and restaurants and two stunning nature reserves La Malta and Torrevieja. Additionally, it supports a large ex-pat community.

Javea

Another sought-after coastal town. Sitting in the province of Alicante its wide sandy bay has become a popular tourist hot spot. Half of its resident population are foreigners. So, you are sure to make plenty of new friends.

Mallorca

The largest of the Balearic Islands. Mallorca’s Mediterranean climate makes it an attractive destination for expats seeking a pleasant environment year-round. The hot summers and mild winters provide ample opportunities for outdoor activities and enjoying the island’s natural beauty. The extensive coastline offers excellent conditions for sailing, water sports, and leisurely beach days.

Malaga

If you are looking for a location by the sea but close to the action, check out the city of Malaga, the capital of the Costa del Sol (Coast of the Sun). A contemporary urban city which offers a contrast of pristine beaches and a safe, surprisingly affordable lifestyle.

Barcelona

Known for its unique architecture, vibrant culture, and cosmopolitan atmosphere, Barcelona attracts people from all over the world. It offers a mix of beachside living, historic neighbourhoods, and modern amenities.

Tortosa

Situated in the province of Tarragona, Tortosa enjoys affordable living in a historic setting near the Ebro River. It’s known for its medieval old town, cultural events, and proximity to the Ebro Delta Natural Park.

How to Get Your Belongings to Spain

WACO Truck

Trust White & Company to get your belongings to Spain

Whatever your reasons for buying property in spain, you will need some assistance getting your belongings to your new location.

Those moving long-term find that it is essential to have their personal effects from the UK come with them to Spain.

It does make settling in a little easier having familiar furniture and items around you.

Plus, it is cheaper. If you had to list all of your effects and the cost to buy them from new, you would see that it makes financial sense to take them with you.

This is where White & Company can assist you!

We have been transporting personal effects all over the Spanish mainland for many years.

With the skills, knowledge, and know-how to ensure everything reaches its final destination in one piece, White & Company excels.

Whether it is through a phone call, our online quick quote form, or chat with our interactive Bot, contact us today.

The first step is to arrange a pre-move survey. One of our helpful surveyors can either visit or undertake a virtual survey so that we can provide you with our competitive no-obligation quotation.

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