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Old 21.02.2021, 13:46
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Buying property in Spain

After some attempts to invest in a property in Switzerland, I give up and I'm now thinking about getting a property in Spain, in Alicante.

My idea is to get a very very small house there, that small that hopefully I do no need a mortgage. Based on previous posts I am not the only one doing this, and I have some doubts about the process.

Do I need to have a bank account in Spain to get the property? Do you know if it is easy to get an bank account in Spain if you are not actually living there?

My money is currently in CHF, do I need to convert it to EUR somehow in this process? Any idea to avoid losing too much money on the conversion?

Anything else that I should be aware of, and to check when I find a property that I like? I just very worried of being scam in the process.

Last edited by Pipperlamb; 21.02.2021 at 16:08.
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Old 21.02.2021, 18:42
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Re: Buying property in Spain

1) You need an NIE number before any bank/seller will talk to you. It's a fairly easy process and you do not have to be a resident to get one.

2) You will need a Spanish bank account for bills/local taxes and you will need your NIE number to open a bank account in Spain as a non-resident.

3) You 100% want to use a trusted lawyer. Spain is full of properties that were built with no planning permission and are technically illegal buildings. You want to make sure that the property you are buying (i) has proper planning permission to be there, and (ii) that there are no outstanding liens on the property.

4) My advice would be to find a local agent who knows the area well and arrange a trip to view properties. Once you have a budget in mind you will know what is achievable. I use the website idealista for all my Spanish property searches.
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Old 21.02.2021, 19:05
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Re: Buying property in Spain

If you are buying through a professional estate agent, he will help you set up a NIE number. And also many of the other hoops you need to jump through which can be a nightmare if you try to do that by yourself. You hear lots of stories about rogue estate agents so it's always good to check the Spanish forums and see what people are saying. I was very fortunate to find an excellent agent who went well beyond the call of duty to help me.

If you don't need a mortgage, you strictly don't need a bank account. But in my case I have one anyway as it makes paying bills much easier. All the bills including community tax are payed by standing order so I don't need to worry about forgetting, or maybe not receiving postal bills while I'm away.

I bank with Sabadell. You hear some bad stuff about them but I'm satisfied so far. Their phone support service is excellent and the few times I had a problem (of my own making) they resolved this immediately. They offer phone support in English, which i would recommend to use even if you do speak decent Spanish as bank stuff can be very complicated. Opening an account with them was no hassle whatsoever. I just turned up at my local branch and asked for an account. But you need to do the NIE thing first.

I transferred my money with Transferwise in several batches during the months running up to the handover date in order to average out vagaries of the exchange rate.

What part of the Alicante area are you looking at? I'm in El Campello. It's a very pleasant area. Low crime and not really overpopulated or overrun with tourists as so many other seafront resorts are these days. Its still predominantly Spanish which I find pleasant. There are however smallish English, Dutch and French communities who organize various activities. El Campello some very nice beaches and the mountains are close too. There are still some good property bargains to be had if you look closely and do your research well. But I guess the same is true of other areas too. El Campello is I believe slightly costlier than some other resorts, probably for these reasons, but property prices were also more stable through the crisis so it's probably a safer investment.

If you want a surveyor to look over your property before buying I can share the address of a very pleasant and professional English surveyor whose services I employed.

Some things you need to look out for:

1) is the property legal? You'd be surprised how many people, back i the day just built without any form of approval. Such buldings enter a status of "toleration" if they've been around long enough, but you might have difficulties if you want to make major modifications or build an extension or something. You can get information from the catastro and land registry online.
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Old 21.02.2021, 20:06
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Re: Buying property in Spain

... continued

2) further to illegal properties that are tolerated, there are certain categories of illegal properties that are not tolerated. These are those built in areas in which construction is strictly not allowed, such as coastal protection areas.

Most of the horror stories you may have heard about people being evicted and then seeing their house bulldozed are this type of property. So if the price is too good to be true, be sure to do your research. Go to the same places as above, or ask a lawyer.

On the other hand, the wheels of the judicial system grind very slowly in Spain and I know of several illegal properties that the council officially says it wants to tear down but they haven't done anything in decades, and maybe never will. Maybe having the right friends also helps sometimes.

3) another trap that many fall into are rural properties. From my understanding there are two types of property in Spain, urban and rural. And rural properties have slightly less stringent rules and you can do a bit more. But essentially rural properties can be redefined as urban at any time if the council deems it necessary. And urban means the quality of the streets is improved, street lighting put in and lots of such niceties which you probably wouldn't say no to until you discover that the small print says you are supposed to pay for it all yourself. It might also mean that if a road needs to be widened that they can take a strip of your land without paying compensation. The logic being that you more than benefit anyway seeing urbanization boosts the value of your property (which typically it does by many times the value you need to invest, so it's really a good thing if you can afford it). But this is the point where people who can't pay can (in the extreme case) get evicted and their houses sold off to pay for the money they owe. In reality this is extremely rare so please don't believe all the scare stories on the internet. It is very rare for councils to do anything drastic against the wishes of their residents as politicians like to get re-elected. But it might still be a reason to steer away from such properties unless you also have the means to pay whatever it takes, or are confident the area is so remote and uninteresting that nobody will ever want to urbanize it.

4) also check any ongoing plans for your area. If your house is earmarked to be acquired for a new motorway or airport or whatever you will get compensated, but sometimes the money you will get will be the fictional tax-office value and not the real market value. This is more likely to happen to lonely single houses somewhere in the middle of farmers fields than it is to happen in the middle of a built up area (again, politicians don't like to make too many enemies). Your local council (or your lawyer) should be able to provide information on any ongoing planning.

5) construction and workmanship. Construction work is very cheap in Spain as are materials. The market is highly competitive and there are lots of builders keen to help you out for very low prices. So if anything breaks and needs fixing, it's not the end of the world and having a builder in won't bankrupt you. But Spain is not Switzerland and you musn't expect stuff to last forever. I would steer away from the very cheap builders and look for the more professional ones, or ask neighbours for recommendations. It's also good practice to have a certain budget for small repairs as things can and will break. Especially if you're buying an older property that's suffered from lots of DIY. Expats are the worst culprits for this in my experience.

All that said, don't believe all the rumours on the internet and tabloid scare stories. In reality these things happen extremeley rarely, and if you take the necessary steps and precautions, they will never happen to you.

Feel free to PM me if you want to discuss any particulars offline.

Last edited by amogles; 21.02.2021 at 20:32.
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Old 21.02.2021, 20:47
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Re: Buying property in Spain

and one more thing. Land Registry Office. Be sure to check with them that

1) the person claiming to be the owner is the real owner
2) that there are no debts on the property, or that if there are that these are repayed in full and erased from the registry
3) that there is no usufruct. Or if there is that it is erased.

A decent lawyer will do all this for you for a very moderate fee.

But don't assume that it is happening automatically.

Any estate agent who says you don't need a proper independent lawyer because they can handle this stuff for you probably has something to hide. Watch out for such red flags.

Last edited by amogles; 21.02.2021 at 21:00.
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Old 21.02.2021, 20:59
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Re: Buying property in Spain

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2) You will need a Spanish bank account for bills/local taxes and you will need your NIE number to open a bank account in Spain as a non-resident.
So any bank account with EU IBAN is not Ok.
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Old 21.02.2021, 21:09
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Re: Buying property in Spain

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So any bank account with EU IBAN is not Ok.
Maybe. maybe not.

In my experience, the Spanish don't use IBAN much for domestic transfers but still prefer to use domestic banking numbers. I don't know what will happen if you attempt to crowbar an IBAN into the direct debit form. You probably can't because there are too many digits.

Furthermore, things are sort of better connected if you have a Spanish bank.

For example I am with Sabadell and in the online portal there is a tab called community tax and if I click on it it connects with the tax office website and I can see the status of all past and upcoming tax-related payments and all details of the calculation and of the property. Obviously that's nice to have and not essential. But by comparison the tax office website is a PITA and they actually recommend to go through my bank instead.
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Old 21.02.2021, 21:17
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Re: Buying property in Spain

He probably means eBills, direct-debit, or whatever it is called in Spain

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So any bank account with EU IBAN is not Ok.
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Old 21.02.2021, 21:22
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Re: Buying property in Spain

What's the issue, the price or something else? I have heard an urban legend that in Switzerland the neighbors have to approve new buyer otherwise he cannot buy even though the seller would like to close the transaction. Sounds so ridiculous that I believed it was just a legend.

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After some attempts to invest in a property in Switzerland, I give up ...
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Old 21.02.2021, 21:28
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Re: Buying property in Spain

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Feel free to PM me if you want to discuss any particulars offline.
When the world allows, let me take you out for a beer or seven... will send you a pm
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Old 21.02.2021, 21:29
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Re: Buying property in Spain

you can get an NIE number via the Spanish embassy in Zurich, might be useful to have that ready.
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Old 21.02.2021, 21:52
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Re: Buying property in Spain

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What's the issue, the price or something else? I have heard an urban legend that in Switzerland the neighbors have to approve new buyer otherwise he cannot buy even though the seller would like to close the transaction. Sounds so ridiculous that I believed it was just a legend.
I have heard that too. But admittedly not from a source I consider 100% trustworthy. And even if it is true, then only in very specific locations.

Maybe it's similar to some non publically traded companies, who sometimes have in their constitution than no new shareholder can be taken onboard without the approval of a quorum of the existing shareholders.
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Old 22.02.2021, 12:56
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Re: Buying property in Spain

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After some attempts to invest in a property in Switzerland, I give up and I'm now thinking about getting a property in Spain, in Alicante.

Anything else that I should be aware of, and to check when I find a property that I like? I just very worried of being scam in the process.
Plenty of scams on that, to avoid them: https://www.mitma.gob.es/recursos_mf...e_house_en.pdf
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Old 22.02.2021, 13:26
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Re: Buying property in Spain

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What's the issue, the price or something else? I have heard an urban legend that in Switzerland the neighbors have to approve new buyer otherwise he cannot buy even though the seller would like to close the transaction. Sounds so ridiculous that I believed it was just a legend.
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I have heard that too. But admittedly not from a source I consider 100% trustworthy. And even if it is true, then only in very specific locations.

Maybe it's similar to some non publically traded companies, who sometimes have in their constitution than no new shareholder can be taken onboard without the approval of a quorum of the existing shareholders.

I´ve seen this happening in Germany. With a flat in a building and the owners needed to approve the sale, also with a house that was one in a row and built on Gemeinschaftseigentum (land shared by several owners and not splitted up).
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Old 22.02.2021, 22:43
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Re: Buying property in Spain

Wouuu what a great responses. Thanks a lot everybody !!!

Thanks a lot for your support, help and great tips. Everything is way more clear for me know.



The only problem in my attempts in Switzerland is that I am definitely too poor to be able to afford something fine (not even good) here. Apart from that, nothing to complain about the process.
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Old 23.02.2021, 14:41
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Re: Buying property in Spain

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Wouuu what a great responses. Thanks a lot everybody !!!

Thanks a lot for your support, help and great tips. Everything is way more clear for me know.



The only problem in my attempts in Switzerland is that I am definitely too poor to be able to afford something fine (not even good) here. Apart from that, nothing to complain about the process.
and...to be on the even safest side, get a Spanish friend to be with you on the first calls with the real state agent, and do the talking for you. That alone, may be worth -10,000 Euros on the price ;-) as a Spaniard who just sold a bungalow in Murcia to a Russian...., i can confirm :-)
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Old 23.02.2021, 15:02
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Re: Buying property in Spain

What about political stability in Spain? The country seems bit shaky?
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Old 23.02.2021, 16:23
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Re: Buying property in Spain

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What about political stability in Spain? The country seems bit shaky?
Let me quote Bismarck, when he was asked "which is the strongest country"? his answer was "Spain -- they are continuously on internal wars, and still they have not been able to destroy the country... imagine the day that they stop fighting each other"

Yes, some of their current government members seem not to be representing the interests of the country, but, as it happened in Italy & Germany, it will 'normalize'. Too many things at stake in Europe also, to let one of the largest countries drifting into pandemonium...
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Old 23.02.2021, 17:40
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Re: Buying property in Spain

How have you found price evolution in these last 12 months given Covid and Brexit? Do you see any Brits cashing out in EUR and willing to negotiate given exchange rates?
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Old 23.02.2021, 18:35
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Re: Buying property in Spain

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Maybe. maybe not.

In my experience, the Spanish don't use IBAN much for domestic transfers but still prefer to use domestic banking numbers. I don't know what will happen if you attempt to crowbar an IBAN into the direct debit form. You probably can't because there are too many digits.

Furthermore, things are sort of better connected if you have a Spanish bank.

For example I am with Sabadell and in the online portal there is a tab called community tax and if I click on it it connects with the tax office website and I can see the status of all past and upcoming tax-related payments and all details of the calculation and of the property. Obviously that's nice to have and not essential. But by comparison the tax office website is a PITA and they actually recommend to go through my bank instead.
I am Spanish and we already use IBAN. All bank apps include the account numbers with this format, no issues at all
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