This article is an explanation of how to buy property in Barcelona. It covers each stage of the process: the property search, reservation, official deposit payment (Arras) and the final signing and exchange of the deeds (Escritura).
The first stage is to know your budget and to allow enough money to cover the expenses of buying a flat or house in Barcelona. You will have to pay a tax of 10% of the purchase price of the property. You should also allow costs for your lawyer, notary and fees for the various document registrations.
Budget for around 13-14% of the purchase price for additional expenses when buying. If you need a mortgage, there will be some fees associated with that too.
You must have an NIE (Spanish identity number) in order to purchase property in Spain.
Searching for a property to buy in Barcelona
There are various online portals for property sales and rentals in Spain. A quick search on Google will list them for you. The majority of estate agents in Barcelona use these portals for advertising their properties, as well as their own websites.
Knowing the area of Barcelona where you want to buy is important, and it will help you in the search process. Location is everything, and this is where it can be helpful to have someone local or knowledgeable about Barcelona to give you advice.
Viewing property for sale in Barcelona
It’s useful to try to see a few flats in one day. If you don’t live in Barcelona it’s a good use of your time, but it also helps you to compare properties as they’re fresh in your memory.
The estate agency fee should be paid by the owner. However, there are some agencies in Barcelona that also charge a fee to the buyer. They are the exception, so I think on principle alone it’s good to avoid them. It’s important to find out early on if the agent intends to try to charge you a fee.
Once you find a flat or house to buy, it’s advisable to have a survey done before proceeding further. If you require a mortgage, your mortgage company will want to do their own survey anyway.
Reserving your flat or house
Depending on the purchase price of the property, a reservation fee can be anything from €3,000 to €6,000. A reservation document is signed by both parties and should state the agreed terms and the amount you’ve paid as a reservation fee. If you don’t speak Spanish it’s very important to have the reservation document checked before you sign it – by someone who does speak Spanish or by your lawyer. Never use a lawyer offered by the owner or agent.
If you change your mind you lose the reservation fee. If the owner doesn’t sell to you for any reason, they have to refund your reservation fee.
Your lawyer must check the Arras document. A date is agreed to sign this document and 10% of the purchase price is paid.
This is the point of no return. If you fail to buy the property you will lose your 10% deposit. If the owner fails to fulfil his or her duties by the time of the final deed signing, they have to pay you 20% of the purchase price.
Final deed signing
Your lawyer and the owner or agent will be in correspondence leading up to the final exchange to make sure all documents are ready and checked. If you require a mortgage, this must also be organised in time.
A date will be set with a notary, and both parties will be present, as well as the estate agent and your lawyer. At this stage you pay the final outstanding balance and receive the keys.
Barcelona Property Finder
I run a property finding service helping people buy and rent property in Barcelona and the surrounding areas.
People hire a property finder for various reasons. If you don’t live in Spain or Barcelona, it’s very difficult to source flats or houses. It’s expensive to keep travelling to Barcelona in order to view property. If you don’t speak Spanish it’s problematic to arrange viewings and find out details about properties. If you’re a busy person, the search process and arranging viewings can be time consuming and frustrating. I also give clients as much information and help with the whole process as possible, from recommending banks, builders and contacts to get your required NIE.
Whatever the reason, hiring someone to source property for you saves you a significant amount of time. The service saves you money, not only on travel and hotel expenses, but because I know the market I can access the local agents (who tend to be cheaper) and negotiate for you on property prices.
I can also save you money on lawyer fees and survey fees. As I recommend many clients to my own lawyer and other contacts that I have in the property market, such as an architect and surveyor, these professionals give my clients a discounted rate.