Investing in Real Estate in Spain
Investing in Real Estate in Spain
Our real estate clients run the range from holiday homebuyers to institutional investors…
AvaLaw is recognized in the sector as one of the leading firms in assisting foreign real-estate investors to buy and sell properties in Spain safely, with the best possible terms and with no surprises – while paying minimum taxes and other costs in the process.
Whether you are a holiday home buyer or a professional real-estate fund, you simply choose the property and we take care of the rest. Our full package of services includes tax planning, NIE numbers, setting up of companies, due diligence, survey, contracts, closing and even tying up any loose ends, such as direct debiting the invoices and transferring the utility contracts into the name of the new owner.
Watch our Real Estate Lawyers explain it all here
FAQs on Real Estate investment in Spain
Yes! If you invest over 500,000 euros in Spanish real-estate, you and your immediate family can be granted a work and residency permit. This permit is commonly referred to as a “Golden Visa.” Please find the relevant information and steps related to obtaining such a visa in our immigration department’s website [here]
Yes, that is usual in Spain. Unlike in most western countries where the down payment is paid to an escrow agent (closed account, trustee, Notary, etc.) instead of to the seller, the local practice in Spain tends to surprise foreign buyers.
Any risk can be reduced to very little with some basic reviews, for example, making sure that the time between the payment of any deposit and the final sales deed is not excessively long, making sure the seller is not a company on the verge of bankruptcy, and confirming that the outstanding amount of the mortgage does not equal the purchase price (in which case the down-payment cannot be paid to the seller because the whole purchase price has to be paid to the bank). With the right due diligence, it is acceptable in Spain to do as the Spaniards do – pay the down payment directly to the seller at the time of signing the down payment agreement.
The Realtor is normally responsible for:
a) Finding you the perfect purchase target based on your search criteria.
b) Providing you with the relevant basic information regarding the target property.
c) Mediating in the negotiations between the seller and the buyer, or their representatives.
The Notary is responsible for:
a) Identifying the parties of the signature.
b) Gathering together the documentation required by law for the sales transaction.
c) Registering the property with the land registry. Please note that Spanish notaries, unlike in many countries, do not have any role in the deal during the negotiations or when drafting or signing the down payment agreements. They also, do not normally act as escrow agents because the money normally moves directly from the buyer to the seller.
The Lawyer is normally responsible for:
a) Tax planning designed to minimize the amount of taxes at the moment of purchase,
during the ownership and at the moment of eventual property sales.
b) Setting up the structure for the investment, if applicable (incorporating Spanish
c) Dealing with the banks (anti-money laundering clearances, financing, etc.).
d) Obtaining the NIEs.
e) Acting as your tax representative and making the corresponding tax declarations during and after the purchase.
f) Supervising the safety of the operation by conducting a thorough due diligence of the
g) Negotiating and drafting the contracts involved.
h) Assisting you with the signing of the final purchase deed.
i) Following up on the registrations of the property in your name.
j) Changing the utilities and other service contracts into your name.
k) Dealing with rental or business licenses, rental contacts, illegal occupants, etc.
l) Providing any other necessary legal advice to close the purchase successfully.
m) Obtaining residency and work permits for the non-EU investors.
n) Planning the inheritance of your properties in Spain to minimize the inheritance tax and bureaucracy.
The most significant cost when buying a property are the taxes, which vary, in part, according to the autonomous community. In some autonomous communities, the tax is scaled depending on the purchase price.
In addition, the taxes vary based on the following factors:
- Age of the property (second hand / new)
- Identity of the buyer (company / private individual)
- Identity of the seller (company / private individual)
- Type of the property (residential / commercial property)
Use of the property (rental / resale within five years without renting, etc.)
It depends on various considerations including:
– Your existing structure (other businesses you may own globally)
– Your country of origin
– Your age and other personal circumstances
– Type of property (house/place of business)
– Intended use of the property (business / residential, own use / rental or purchase-renovation-sales scenario)
– Number of units and total amount of investment
In principle, the general rule is that if you buy a single property for your own use or even to rent it, it is not worthwhile to set up a company, instead you should buy the property directly, in your name. If the goal is to engage in a real business with various properties, it is often is more tax efficient to constitute a company in Spain or abroad – or to use the existing structure that you may have in other countries.
Yes. Requirements vary depending on the bank and the origin of the clients, but generally non-residents may obtain funding of between 50% and 65% of the appraised value (or sales price if it is lower than the appraised value), for a maximum term of 25 years (lesser terms apply for senior citizens), as long as the monthly payment does not exceed 30 % of your income after payment of fixed expenses. It should be noted that the amount of interest charged will be somewhat more expensive compared to the interest Spanish residents can obtain.
The procedures to accept clients and their incoming transfers from abroad depend on the bank and the country of origin of the clients involved. Even different offices of the same bank may have, in practice, different criteria when it comes to accepting or declining money. It helps if you are introduced to the bank by a trustworthy local party.
If you are a European citizen, or national of other countries that are not considered risky by the banks, you will just need to present a valid passport and basic information of how the money was earned or obtained. The NIE is not needed to open the account, even though some banks may ask for it.
In other cases, in addition to the passport, you will normally need to show documentation, translated into Spanish, regarding the origin of the funds to be brought into Spain in the future. In the case of companies, the documentation may consist, for example, of the company’s most recent balance sheets. In the case of private individuals, examples of the documents frequently requested include tax returns, bank statements, work contracts, loan agreements, and documents regarding sales of properties, as applicable in your case
If you are a European national, basically any commercial bank will do. Just make sure that they do not charge high fees for receiving transfers from abroad (big, international banks with offices in Spain normally charge up to 0.5 % for receiving transfers of more than 50.000 euros) or for issuing the bank certified checks used to pay the purchase price (the banks can charge again up to 0,5% of the value of the checks). Some other banks charge nothing, or next to nothing for these types of transactions. Almost all banks are willing to negotiate their fees – if you do it before making the transfers, of course.
If you are not European and you invest through an international company structure, or if the money comes from tax havens or other countries that are considered “risky” by the banks and anti-money laundering authorities, the choice of the bank is a much more important decision. In that case, you should choose a bank and a branch that has experience in working with similar transactions and parties. You can request recommendations from realtors, lawyers or other local professionals who deal continuously with foreign investment.
The easiest and most secure way to pay the final purchase price is to bring a bank certified check issued by a Spanish bank to the Notary on the closing date and exchanging the check for the title and possession of the property. Checks issued abroad cannot be used, and it is not advisable to make a direct bank transfer to the vendor before receiving the title. After completing the purchase, future recurrent costs (such as utilities, community fees, etc.) will be paid by direct debit from your Spanish bank account.
No. You can authorize a representative to act on your behalf in the process. The easiest way to do so is to sign a Power of Attorney at a Spanish Notary while you are visiting Spain and looking for your property. If you wish to proceed with the purchase and are not in Spain, you can grant a Power of Attorney in your country of residence at a Spanish Embassy or Consulate or through a procedure of Apostille.
The only thing that normally cannot be done by a Power of Attorney is the opening of a bank account. According to the international banking rules, all banks are required to meet with their clients at least once in person. Some banks may exceptionally let you open an account with Power of Attorney, but may oblige you to meet with them, in person, before releasing funds. Once you have met with the bank officials once, the rest of the acquisition process, including dealing with the bank, can be done via Power of Attorney.
The word due diligence may sound confusing. The main idea of the due diligence process is to ensure that the property (or any target) corresponds to the given information and that there aren’t any nasty surprises.
Usually the process follows the following phases. First, we request the information required to conduct the due diligence. The information we request depends on the target. After the review of the documentation and answers that the sellers provide us, we write a due diligence report in which we highlight the possible risks that the property represents.
The due diligence is an important part of the real estate transaction. The results may help you when it comes to negotiating the price, you will also be able toprepare yourself for certain refurbishments and other actions to consider after the purchase.
The NIE is simply an identification number assigned to a foreigner in Spain, and it has nothing to do with the establishment of a person ́s residency in the country. All buyers who do not have Spanish nationality must obtain an NIE, both Europeans and non-Europeans, both individuals and companies.
For individuals, it can be obtained in three different ways:
a) Through the Spanish Consulate in your country of origin
b) In person in Spain at the specific Police Stations (note: in some cities, for example
Barcelona, Europeans have to make an appointment to present their NIE application)
c) Through Power of Attorney that you can grant to your representative such as your lawyer.
For foreign companies, the NIE has to be obtained through making an application to the tax authorities in Spain.
Although each project is different and the process of buying a holiday home or a second residence differs significantly from investing as a business, in general, the phases found in any real estate operation would consist of the following:
a) Tax planning and deciding on the legal structure (do you buy in the name of a
company, in your own name, together with your spouse or partner, in the name of your children, etc.)
b) Administrative tasks (setting up the planned structure, if any; executing Power of Attorneys, applying for the tax identification codes “NIEs”, opening a bank account, getting the anti-money laundering clearances, seeking financing, etc.)
c) Search for a potential purchase property (often simultaneously with the completion of points a) and b))
d) Negotiation over the target object(s) identified
e) Reservation agreement or letter of Intent
f) Conducting of Legal and technical Due Diligence
g) Negotiation of the down payment agreement
h) Execution of the purchase deed before a Spanish Notary
i) Consideration and obtaining of insurance coverage
j) Payment of the Property Transfer Tax or VAT, as applicable
k) Updating the Land Registry
l) Arrangement and contract for utilities and establishment of direct debit facilities
m) Planning for the inheritance of properties
When investing as a business, the same rules apply mostly. The one significant difference is in relation to tax matters. For a holiday home buyer, there isn’t much to do in terms of optimizing taxes. On the other hand, when investing as a business, there are several possibilities to optimize your taxes. We recommend you consider the structure in advance, since there are many regulations you can take advantage of. For instance, if you invest in eight residential units and you rent the units for at least three years, you will be eligible to receive an 80 % reduction on your company taxes.
Also, knowing the market, the trends and the other players in the sector is crucial. In addition to our experience and knowledge, we have a wide realtor network to help you find the perfect targets.
Any person of any nationality, or any company legally incorporated in a country, can buy a property in Spain. The only requirement is that you can prove the funds you plan to invest have been legally obtained. In addition, you will need to complete certain administrative and legal processes, such as obtaining an NIE (Spanish Tax number for foreigners), opening a bank account, obtaining the anti-money laundering clearance, putting in place a Power of Attorney, if any are necessary; and in sizable investments, making the foreign investment declarations.
“The stress of purchasing a property in a foreign country was reduced considerably thanks to the support of the lawyers of AvaLaw. They answered us immediately and explained clearly the procedures and issues with which we were confronted”
“AvaLaw has enabled me to do the seemingly impossible: purchase a number of Barcelona apartments over time while I’ve been in faraway places, from Los Angeles to Zurich to Moscow. AvaLaw conducts masterful negotiations and due diligence whilst striving for the best possible deal, and closes the purchase on my behalf for the selected properties”
Hi I’m Raisa,
I’m a legal expert in Real Estate Investment and I’ll be happy to help you answer your questions, so don’t hesitate to contact me.