Buying a Spanish Property

 Frequently asked questions

What if I want to buy a plot in Marbella and built my own home?

Providing that a building plot is situated within an urbanization, or an area zoned within the Municipal Plan for such use, outline planning permission will already have been granted for the construction of a detached home.

However, building regulations, which vary considerably, dictate the permissible size of the villa according to the size of the plot. Care should therefore be taken before proceeding with the land purchase that one will be allowed to construct one’s chosen home on it.

Are technical surveys available before buying a Spanish property?

A building survey, as it is understood in the U.K., is not necessary in Spain for mortgage purposes.

It is nonetheless advisable when purchasing an older property. Common things to check for are the condition of the plumbing and electrical installations, waterproofing, roofing, and so on.

These checks, as well as a full structural survey, can be carried out by a Spanish technical architect (aparejador) or indeed by a qualified British Chartered Surveyor. Any fees involved would be to the account of the prospective purchaser.

Is financing available?

Spanish banks are highly competitive when offering mortgages on both new properties and resale properties.

It is now common practice for most Spanish banks to offer mortgages to non-residents, although some banks do offer a wider variety of financing packages than others.

Common terms offered are mortgages from 5 to 15 years, often of up to 70% of the purchase price, at around 1 point over current EURIBOR rates. The applicant must of course qualify for the loan, especially from the standpoint of having sufficient income to afford the monthly payments, and the bank must appraise the property value.

The appraised value, generally speaking, coincides with the market value of the property.

When I sell my property in Spain, may I remit the proceeds of sale back to my own country?

A foreigner who is a non-resident of Spain has the right to sell his property to another non-resident foreigner entirely in foreign currency, with payment made outside of Spain.

It should be noted that a 3% tax retention is effected by the tax authorities upon the sale of any property owned by a non-resident vendor, which is applied towards the capital gains tax (currently 21%).

The profit on the sale is reduced by a small percentage for each year of ownership in compensation for inflation.

If the amount withheld is greater than the tax due, it can be reclaimed in part from the tax office. Those sellers today who have owned their property prior to 1986 currently pay no capital gains tax on a sale.

Who pays the agency fees in the sale of property in Spain?

The seller always pays agency fees

How will I deal with standard bills, e.g. electricity, water, telephone, rates etc.?

It is the duty of the client or his lawyer to settle these bills via direct debit.

What is an urbanisation?

An urbanization is a planned community which has met the standards of the various governmental agencies with respect of the use of the land (residential, commercial, sports area, green zones), and to providing a specific set of services and a minimum level of quality in the construction of roads, sidewalks, drainage, sewage systems, electricity and water installations, and so on.

Obtaining permission to develop land into an urbanization can take a developer up to several years and several million euros of expense.

The most obvious advantage to the owner of a property within an urbanization is the fact that the land usage is strictly controlled. If one decides to build a house on a plot in a section of an urbanization zoned exclusively for single family dwellings, you are assured by law that neither an apartment block nor a rabbit farm can be located on the adjacent single family plot!
There are several zoning classifications for rural land outside of urbanizations. Marbella is in the process of updating its master plan, and great care should be exercised in purchasing land outside of an urbanization: under most circumstances, one may not be able to build upon land which is not within an urbanization.

How long can I stay in Spain as a tourist?

Europeans from the E.U. can stay in Spain indefinitely.

Visas are not required for some other countries such as the United States, but are still required in other cases, depending on one’s country of origin, and with varying lengths of stay permitted.

Where can I send my children to school in Marbella or Costa del Sol?

There are several international schools in the area, including one in the Sotogrande area which provides weekly boarding facilities.

Pupils are taught in English, and a choice of curriculum is offered between G.C.S.E.s and A-Levels, and the International Baccalaureate, the latter placing an emphasis on course work over exam results. For further information, check out the below e-mail addresses:

Spanish state schools are based on the Baccalaureate system. Any pupil whose year’s work is considered to be inadequate is relegated to stay in the same class for a further year and repeat the curriculum.

In general, very good results are achieved, with a high percentage of pupils going on to University.

However, as all classes are naturally conducted in Spanish, the age at which a child can be expected to cope with a change of language and of curriculum should be taken into account.

The younger the child, the easier they will pick up the language. Most under-12s can become fluent in Spanish in 3 or 4 months.

Are there medical and health insurance facilities in Marbella?

Marbella has the newest, most modern and well-equipped Regional Hospital in Spain (Hospital Costa del Sol), in addition to a good, well-equipped Clinic with a substantial selection of general practitioners and specialists.
Private medical insurance is available through various groups such as SANITAS. The cost per person can vary depending on their age and the state of their health. Spain’s social security system now allows E.U. residents access to the health network via a special form (E-101).

For residents who are self-employed, own a company, or are employees, your social security contributions automatically entitle access to the Spanish health network.

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