Once we have found the dwelling that fits in with our needs, and as THE FIRST STEP before making the purchase and doing any of the administration involved – provided that we have decided to personally undertake all of the operations and not use professional help – we will have to gather together certain information that will inform us about the legal status of the property. This information is:

  • Simple annotation regarding the property from the property registry that it pertains to. Even if we do not have the registry data, we can find this out from any of the registries of the town where the property is located, simply by stating the street where it is located. This simple annotation will furnish us significant and vital information such as, for example, who the owner of the property is, whether or not he has debts, or mortgages, if the house has been given as a guarantee for a payment, whether he is able to sell it or not, if any legal proceedings have been commenced against him, etc. You should take note of the fact that all the true circumstances regarding the property may not appear in the register. This is because the entering of data in the Property Registers is not compulsory for anybody. Requesting the aforesaid simple annotation for the property is as simple as filling out a form at the registry that it pertains to, with its registry data.
  • Residents’ association. It is advisable, if not to say essential, to consult the chairman of the residents’ association that the property belongs to, or failing that, the estate administrator who is in charge of administering it, about the status of the dwelling. In this way we can then avoid any unpleasant surprises once the property has been acquired, such as finding out that the house of our dreams has a sizeable debt due to non-payment of the association dues. This issue may have the further aggravating factor that the debts that arise for this reason may not pertain to the individual who caused them, but rather they are attached to the property, regardless of who the owner is. However, this debt is limited to the last full annual period and the months for which payment has not been made during the year in progress.
  • Council taxes. It is also highly recommended to visit the council of the town where the property is located and enquire about what its situation is in terms of the payment of municipal council taxes that may be levied on it and, very particularly, the Property Tax, which is known as the I.B.I. in Spain. This was previously known as the town rates. This is because, as in the case of the debts for non-payment of association dues, this is a debt that may be imposed as a lien on the property in favour of the council, as this may be a debt that gives rise to a lien in favour of the council and the subsequent sale of the property at public auction. Therefore, being attached to the property rather than the individual who may have caused it, this kind of debt may result in us being deprived of our house owing to a debt that we ourselves have not contracted. This liability on the property is not infinite, as it is limited to the last five years of the debt. Once we have all of these details and any others that may occur to us and may help us to feel more secure about the status of the property, we can start to carry out the administrative processes necessary in order to buy the property. These tasks may vary depending on whether we are going to make the purchase through a professional, a R.E.P.A. or not, or if we are going to require mortgage financing.

If the sale is to be undertaken through a R.E.P.A., the first thing that will be asked of us is that a sum of money is deposited as a purchase deposit, also known as a penalising deposit, or as a key deposit, also known as a confirmatory deposit. This is what is known as reserving the property. The difference between providing the money as a purchase deposit or as a key deposit is important, although in a simple way we can say that with the purchase deposit both parties, the purchaser and the vendor, are able to renounce the purchase or sale of the real estate that is the object of the purchase deposit. If the vendor decides not to sell, once the purchaser has deposited a sum as purchase deposit, he will be able to go ahead with this, but he will have to furnish the vendor with double the amount that he paid to him. If, on the other hand, it is the purchaser who “takes a step back” and decides not to buy, he will be able to do this, but he will lose the sum handed over as the purchase deposit. However, if the sum is provided as a key deposit, we should be informed that – unlike with the purchase deposit, we cannot here decide not to buy or sell. This is because the other party to the contract, whether this be the purchaser or the vendor, will be able to judicially compel us to fulfil what he have agreed to do on handing over the money as a key deposit.

Once this been processed with the R.E.P.A., we only have to wait for the signing of the document of sale, which may be one of the two types that we will mention later. Furthermore, the professional will be in charge of the task of carrying out the “detective” work explained above, with the consequent time savings, and without there being a possibility of mistakes on our part.

If, on the other hand, we are going to undertake the sale ourselves, we will have to reach agreement with the vendor as to whether a purchase deposit or a key deposit is to be paid. We will have to provide the notary or the person who is going to draw up the contract with the essential data of the same, that is to say, the parties, the property, the price, the form of payment, etc. After this, either the contract or the public deed will be signed.

fuente: COAPI Madrid