Buying real estate in Spain?

We've created a guide to help you avoid pitfalls, save time, and make the best long-term investment possible.

Understand the title deed when buying a property in Spain

Last updated on 

All sources have been thoroughly verified for credibility. Furthermore, a local real estate expert has reviewed and approved the final article.

risks pitfalls buying real estate Spain

Everything you need to know is included in our Spain Property Pack

Looking into property investment in Spain is promising. The country offers diverse choices, from historic villas in Andalusia to city apartments in Barcelona, with great growth potential.

However, for international buyers, navigating the complexities of the Spanish real estate market can be quite challenging, especially when verifying the authenticity and legality of the Escritura de Compraventa, which is the official title deed in Spain.

We have actually covered this specific document (among others, like the sales contract) in our property pack for Spain.

In this article, we will give some insight to ensure a smooth and legally compliant property transaction in Spain.

However, please do not forget that this blog post is for informational purposes only and that we are not legal experts. It's always advisable to consult with one. They can indeed thoroughly examine your specific situation and provide you with the most appropriate and tailored advice.

What is the Escritura de Compraventa in Spain?

The "Escritura de Compraventa," often simply called "Escritura," is a crucial document in real estate transactions in Spain.

It's essentially the official sale contract that is signed by both the buyer and the seller in front of a notary. This document formalizes the transfer of ownership of the property. It's what you would consider the final step in the buying process, ensuring that everything is legally binding and officially recorded.

Unlike other property documents, such as the 'Nota Simple' (an informational document from the Land Registry) or a private purchase contract (an agreement between buyer and seller before the formalization), the Escritura de Compraventa has legal sanctity.

This means it's the definitive proof of ownership and is required for the registration of the property in your name at the Land Registry. Without it, you cannot legally prove that you own the property.

Now, what rights does this give you? Owning an Escritura means you have full rights over the property. You can live in it, rent it out, renovate it, or sell it.

However, it's important to note that while it proves ownership, it doesn't always guarantee the property is free of debts or encumbrances. That's why it's crucial to ensure that the property is debt-free before the purchase, usually checked during the initial stages of the buying process.

Regarding reliability, the Escritura is highly reliable as it's an official document created in the presence of a notary.

But remember, it's only as accurate as the information provided at the time of the sale. So, if there are any hidden issues or undisclosed debts, the Escritura won't protect you from those. This is why due diligence before the purchase is critical.

As for resale and inheritance, owning an Escritura makes these processes much smoother. If you decide to sell the property, this document will be required to prove your ownership and complete the transaction.

In terms of inheritance, it ensures a clear record of your ownership, making it easier to pass the property on to your heirs.

For foreign investors, all these points hold true, but there's an added layer of complexity due to potential language barriers and unfamiliarity with Spanish legal processes. It's often advisable for foreign buyers to work with a local legal expert to navigate these waters.

Get the full checklist for your due diligence in Spain

Don't repeat the same mistakes others have made before you. Make sure everything is in order before signing your sales contract.

buying property foreigner Spain

How to verify a title deed in Spain?

The process

Verifying the authenticity of an "Escritura de Compraventa" in Spain is an essential step in ensuring a safe and legal property transaction.

To verify its authenticity, you need to understand the role of different entities and the process involved.

Firstly, the Escritura should be signed in front of a notary. Notaries in Spain play a crucial role in property transactions. They are public officials who ensure that the documents are legally valid and that the parties involved understand the terms.

To verify an Escritura, you can approach the notary who officiated the transaction. They can confirm whether the document was indeed signed in their presence and is recorded in their protocol books.

Secondly, you can verify the Escritura through the Spanish Land Registry (Registro de la Propiedad). This is the official government body that records property ownership.

By presenting the Escritura to the Land Registry, you can check if the property and its ownership details match the records in the registry. This step is vital to confirm that the seller is the true owner and that there are no undisclosed encumbrances or debts on the property.

Lawyers specializing in property law can be invaluable in this process. They have the expertise to navigate the legal landscape, can liaise with notaries and the Land Registry, and ensure that all checks are thoroughly conducted.

A lawyer can also help in understanding any complex legal jargon in the Escritura and advise on any potential legal issues.

Real estate agents, while helpful in finding properties and facilitating transactions, may not be the best resource for verifying the authenticity of an Escritura. Their expertise lies more in the market aspects of real estate rather than the legal nuances.

However, a reputable agent should guide you towards the right legal help and can be part of the overall verification process.

Remember, when it comes to legal documents and property, it's always better to be thorough and cautious.

What to check

Understanding the property's history, debts, and legal boundaries is key in a real estate transaction in Spain, especially when dealing with an "Escritura de Compraventa."

To access and trace the property's history, you need to start with the Land Registry (Registro de la Propiedad). This is where all property transactions are recorded. You can request a ‘Nota Simple’, an official report from the registry, which provides a detailed history of the property, including past ownerships and transactions.

This history is important because it reveals the chain of ownership, ensuring that there are no legal disputes or irregularities that could affect your ownership rights.

Checking for outstanding debts or liens is crucial. Again, the Nota Simple will list any debts or charges against the property, like mortgages or unpaid taxes.

Why is this important? Because in Spain, debts are attached to the property, not just the owner. So, if you buy a property with outstanding debts, you could become responsible for them. That's why it's essential to ensure the property is debt-free or that you understand any obligations you might be taking on.

Regarding the property's measurements and boundaries, these details are also recorded in the Land Registry.

However, discrepancies can occur between registry descriptions and the actual property. To verify this, you can commission a land survey by a qualified surveyor.

They will measure the property and compare it to the registry description. If there are discrepancies, resolving them usually involves legal processes, sometimes requiring updates to the registry or even legal action if there are disputes over boundaries.

Zoning laws and land use restrictions are another crucial aspect. These determine what you can and cannot do with the property. To find out about these, you should consult the local town hall (Ayuntamiento) or the urban planning department (Departamento de Urbanismo).

They can provide information on zoning classifications, building regulations, and any future plans for the area that might affect the property.

Understanding these aspects of a property before buying is not just about due diligence; it's about protecting your investment and avoiding legal and financial surprises down the line.

So, take your time, consult with professionals, and make sure you have a complete picture before proceeding with any purchase.

After our research and the feedback collected from our local real estate partners, we have written an article about the risks and pitfalls when buying a property in Spain, you might want to check it out.

Don't sign a Spanish document you don't understand

Buying a property in Spain? We have reviewed all the documents you need to know. Stay out of trouble - grab our comprehensive guide.

buying property foreigner Spain

How to update the title deed after the property transaction in Spain?

After purchasing a property in Spain, updating the title deed, known as the "Escritura de Compraventa," is a critical step. This process officially records you as the new owner of the property.

Once the Escritura is signed in front of a notary, the next step is to register it at the local Land Registry (Registro de la Propiedad). This registration is what legally confirms your ownership.

You or your lawyer will need to submit the signed Escritura along with any required fees to the Land Registry. The time it takes to complete this registration can vary, but it’s an essential step to protect your legal rights as the property owner.

Regarding insurance and additional protections, once the title deed is verified and the property is yours, it's wise to consider several types of insurance.

Firstly, home insurance is crucial. It covers damage to the property itself and often includes liability coverage, protecting you in case someone is injured on your property. Additionally, if you have a mortgage, the lender will typically require you to have home insurance. Another consideration is title insurance.

While not as common in Spain as it is in some other countries, title insurance can provide peace of mind by protecting against any legal issues with the title that were not discovered during the buying process.

For foreign owners, understanding how Spanish inheritance laws affect the property is important. In Spain, there are specific laws dictating how property is inherited, which might be different from your home country. These laws often favor the children or spouse of the deceased.

As a foreign owner, you can specify in your will how you want your Spanish property to be distributed, but it’s crucial to ensure that this will is legally recognized in Spain.

Consulting with a legal professional experienced in Spanish property and inheritance law is highly recommended to navigate these complexities.

Remember, buying property in a foreign country like Spain involves navigating a different legal system and set of practices.

Ensuring that the title deed is properly updated, getting the right insurance, and understanding the implications for inheritance are all steps in safeguarding your investment and ensuring that your property rights are protected under Spanish law.

Make a profitable investment in Spain

Better information leads to better decisions. Save time and money. Download our guide.

buying property foreigner Spain

This article is for informational purposes only and should not be considered financial advice. Readers are advised to consult with a qualified professional before making any investment decisions. We do not assume any liability for actions taken based on the information provided.