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Buying property in Spain guide by Altea Moraira Villas
buying property in spain guide


Are you still dreaming of buying a property in Spain? This guide to buying property in Spain by Altea Moraira Villas explains how to make those dreams come true. We will cover all sorts of topics, from legal requirements to financing and even pitfalls to avoid; and we will mainly focus on the Costa Blanca area, as we are one of the go-to real estate agents in Altea, at the Costa Blanca North.


Before buying, you should always do your own research, and it helps to work with a well-rated estate agent in the area who knows the in & outs of the market, because the Spanish property market can be tricky sometimes.

Buying and renting prices have increased significantly in popular areas such as the Costa Blanca, where more and more investors find the opportunities they’ve been waiting for.

If you’re considering short stays, renting out your property may be a great idea. This way, you get to enjoy your home when you want to come over, and you can make some extra cash while you’re not here to use the property yourself. The investment opportunities at the Costa Blanca have a lot of potential.

Covid-19 has added a lot of uncertainty in people looking to buy property in Spain, because most people think it’s a risky time to buy. Now more than ever, you might want to come over and talk with a trusted estate agent in the area to answer your questions before taking any decisions. If you’re interested in buying property in Spain, and you like the area of the Costa Blanca North, Altea Moraira Villas are the estate agents in Altea that you need to assist you; and for the well-known area of Moraira, Moraira Invest Group should be the estate agent of your choice.


The percentage of homeownership in Spain is very high, with about 80% of residents owning their own property, and many of those do so without a mortgage.

Spain has suffered a lot during the global financial crisis, and it always does when the property market crashes, because prices drop significantly. Covid-19 caused a lot of panic in the property market and many investors looking to buy property in Spain are waiting for a crash, which we believe won’t come, because in the last few years, the market has become quite stable, especially at the Costa Blanca.

Since 2016, prices in Spain have been rising steadily, and although the Covid-19 situation has affected the property market in 2020, official figures show that average prices have grown in the second quarter. House sales have obviously fallen significantly because of the uncertainty among people buying property in Spain, with a drop of more than 50% as government statistics show that international buyers purchase around 22.000 homes in Spain every quarter, but that figure fell below 10.000 in the second quarter of 2020.

The final economic effects of the Covid-19 pandemic on the Spanish property market are still to be seen, and predictions say that some areas could see a 5-10% drop in house price values on the short term, but in our case, at the Costa Blanca, chances that we’ll take a hit are lower.


Buying a property in Spain has become a bit more complicated than it used to be, but Spain is still a very welcoming country for foreign property buyers; and if you have a real estate agent that you can trust, the process shouldn’t be too difficult, such as shown on our testimonials from clients that have worked with our estate agents in Altea.

The process is pretty straightforward, and your estate agent should be able to assist you. Before buying, you’ll require a tax number, which can be easily obtained by visiting a police station with your passport. This process can either take a day or a few weeks depending on the work load. If you want to learn more about NIE Numbers, this is one of the most complete and detailed posts that you’ll find: NIE NUMBER SPAIN


For now, we can only give a very general indication of what’s happening to the property market in Spain, because the full impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on property prices is yet ti be seen and understood; and nobody has a cristal ball, so don’t let anyone fool you.

Based on the third quarter of 2019, figures presented by the Global Property Guide showed that pre-pandemic average house prices in major cities rose by 5%, while properties on the Canary Islands saw an 11% increase.

At th Costa Blanca, prices are increasing because the area keeps attracting new investors, and a lot of luxury new build properties are being built, but all in all, the market looks very steady at the Costa Blanca despite the Covid-19 situation. If you’re into buying property in Spain and are interested in the area we operate in, feel free to reach out and our professional estate agents in Altea will assist you with your needs.


There are no fixed costs for lawyer and estate agents, and fees usually vary from area-to-area when buying property in Spain, and many are negotiable. The majority of the costs are usually paid by the buyer:

  • Property transfer tax: 10% (existing properties) / VAT (or IVA) at 10% (new properties)
  • Notary costs, title deed tax, and land registration fee: 0.5-1%
  • Legal fees: 0.8-1.5% (including VAT)

The estate agents commission is usually paid by the seller. Real estate agents usually charge around 3-5% depending on how the property is listed.


Some overseas buyers purchase without a mortgage, but it is possible to obtain finance to buy a home. Spanish banks and international banks offer mortgages; some also offer specific deals for expats from certain countries.

As an overseas buyer, you may find you can only borrow at a lower loan-to-value (LTV) rate than Spanish residents, meaning you’ll need a bigger deposit. Spanish residents can generally borrow up to 80% of the property’s assessed value, but non-residents might be limited to 60–70% LTV, depending on the mortgage type.

Mortgage lenders will not complete a mortgage agreement until you own a property. It’s important to include a clause in the property’s purchase contract allowing you to pull out if you cannot acquire a mortgage.

IMPORTANT: In Spain, any debt tied to a property is transferred to the new owner when the property is sold. This means it is critically important to ensure that there are no debts attached to the property, or that if there are, they are covered by the terms of the contract.


Buying property in Spain is made quite easy for all sorts of buyers, because there are many websites, portals and estate agents promoting their listings online, to almost every language and nationality.

The most commonly used websites for smaller promotions are portals such as:

but when you seriously start looking to buy a property in Spain, we highly suggest you do some research about estate agents in the area, and find one that you can trust and will help you with the whole process; because it’s not only about the product, but also the service and the after-sales assistance.

Once you find yourself an estate agent that you can trust, the agency will help you find the product you’re looking for, because nobody knows the property market in specific areas better than local professionals.


Estate agents can provide a wealth of information about the region, are multilingual, and often deal with overseas buyers; they are a useful asset in your Spanish property search. However, regulation is relatively low and unscrupulous estate agents do exist, so be wary of anyone who asks for payments upfront or suggests cutting corners.

Always remember that you can choose your own notary, mortgage provider, and so forth; you do not need to use a service suggested by the estate agent.

When you start researching agents, take a good look at which agencies are ranking well on google searches for specific related keywords such as “real estate agents in Altea”, and are active on socials, because this usually means that the agency in investing time and money to be better than the competition, and offering quality content.

You can also look for personal information about employees and do your own research about them. Estate agents who don’t hide their team members can usually be trusted.

Also look for certifications, real testimonials from previous buyers and the quality content that you’re being offered on the website.


Buying a property in Spain is a process that usually goes as follows: First, the buyer finds a property and makes an offer. If the offer is accepted by the seller, both parties sign a preliminary contract (contrato privado de compraventa), and the buyer pays a deposit of 10% of the purchase price.

The next step should’ve already been previously discussed with the mortgage provider, because now the buyer needs to arrange the required mortgage.

Now, lets go into detail about some key points of the process.


What usually happens first, is that the buyer finds a property or an estate agent of their liking, and arrange a viewing at the property to get a better look and understanding of the space before making any decisions.

If the property meets all requirements, the buyer makes an offer, and the negotiation process starts. As a buyer, you will always negotiate below price because the asking price is usually an indication rather than a demand, without going too low because that could offend the seller. Be careful though, if the price is attractive, you’re probably competing with other buyers, and making a wrong offer could result in you losing the property you like.

The basic negotiations are always done verbally, until an agreement is reached. Once it’s been reached, the offer should be summarized in writing by the notary.


The services of a notary are legally necessary to complete the sale. Having a lawyer to complete the due diligence is highly advised and is required by many mortgage lenders.

The buyer is responsible for registering the property. Your notary may provide this service for a fee, and/or may notify the registry office that the sale has taken place, without completing full registration.

Any lawyer practicing in Spain should be registered with the local bar association (Colegio de Abogados). They will have a registration number that you can ask for and then verify with the bar association. Naturally, registration does not guarantee honesty or competence, but it is a good minimum standard to insist on.

You can find a list of all the bar associations at the national website for Spanish lawyers, Abogacía Española.


It’s possible to buy a property in Spain without having a house survey, but this isn’t advised. A house survey helps you ensure there are no significant defects with the property that could come back to haunt you further down the line.

For existing properties, there are generally two main types of survey available. A valuation report is a surface-level survey that gives you an independent guide to the property’s market value.

A building survey goes deeper, looking at the structural condition of the property and outlining any serious issues. Building surveys are more expensive than valuation reports, but they also provide a more comprehensive guide to the property’s condition, which is good for you because the more you know before buying a property in Spain, the better.



Taking a home insurance when buying a property in Spain is highly recommended. There are two types:

  • Building insurance policy (which covers the structure of the property against natural disasters, fire, and other damage) is often a requirement for mortgage providers.
  • Contents insurance (which covers your belongings in the home) isn’t legally necessary. It could be a wise investment, however, especially if you plan to rent out your property or you spend a lot of time away from home.


Setting up utilities is one of the more tedious tasks when buying a home in Spain, and you may find that the previous owner already had policies in place that you can take over.

Waste disposal is managed at a municipal level, with annual fees for rubbish collection. With other utilities, such as gas, electricity, and water, you’ll be able to compare deals before settling on a provider.


For a long time, Spain has been popular with overseas buyers looking for holiday homes. On occasion, the large numbers of inexperienced foreign buyers have provided an opportunity for unscrupulous developers and estate agents to sell properties that are not legitimate.

In some cases, planning permission has not been acquired before building, and properties are eventually torn down by the local government. In others, the quality of the property has not been up to scratch or as indicated, resulting in costly repairs.

It is highly recommended to check:

  • The credentials of the lawyers or estate agents involved
  • The land registry (Registro de la Propriedad)
  • That there is appropriate planning permission
  • That the property has no outstanding debts
  • That the property is structurally sound (either a surveyor or an architect can do this).

Most of this information can be provided by the land registry and accessed by making a request by e-mail, phone, fax, or in person. You can find the appropriate land registry office by visiting the national website: www.registradores.org (Spanish only).


The worst property scams in Spain, as elsewhere, involve unfinished or unbuilt properties. While malicious intent is rare, caution is advisable when buying a property that does not yet exist. At minimum, you should:

  • Check the company exists and ensure the project is registered with the land registry.
  • Check that planning permission has been granted by enquiring at the local city hall.
  • Not sign a contract you don’t understand.
  • Enlist an independent party for any translations.
  • Demand proof that any sums paid (e.g., a deposit) are being held or spent appropriately.
  • Get proof that you’ll get a refund of your money if the property is not built.

As a non-resident, you may also buy land and have a property built yourself. In this case, good legal advice is even more important as you will need to ensure that contracts with builders are appropriate and watertight.


Capital gains tax (CGT) can be a big barrier to selling a property in Spain. CGT is paid on the profit of selling your home, and the level varies between 19% and 23%, as follows:

  • First €6,000: 19%
  • €6,000–€50,000: 21%
  • €50,000 or more: 23%

If you pay €200,000 for a property and sell it for €350,000, you pay CGT on €150,000. Due to the tax system, this adds up to €33,260.

You may be able to claim a reduction on CGT to account for inflation, if you are purchasing another property in Spain, or if you are over 65 and have lived in the property as your main residence for more than three years.

Otherwise, unlike in other countries, CGT applies no matter how long you’ve lived in the property. Your residential status does not affect the application of tax, as CGT should be paid on property owned in Spain even if you are no longer a resident.


The final step! Firstly, you will need to open a bank account in Spain. There are several banks who provide a bank account specifically aimed at expats, where you can open an account with just your passport and your N.I.E. (see this article on how to obtain your N.I.E.).

Now you probably have a bank account in your country with your budget and will need to transfer this money to your Spanish bank account.
Calling your bank asking them to transfer the money would certainly be one way to go about it but this will often lead to inflated rates and potentially carry extra fees. A foreign exchange company like WorldFirst can help solve this problem by offering much more competitive rates whilst at the same time providing you with a quick and hassle-free transfer.

For more information, if this post was not clear enough, you’ll find it all explained a different way here: Buy Property in Spain