Profession of lawyer in Spain. Regulation, registration and fees quotation
- 1 1.- The concept of “Bar Association” and how to be a lawyer in Spain
- 2 2.- Why using a lawyer when buying a property in Spain?
- 2.1 I.- Some examples of lawyers’ assistance in property transactions in other countries:
- 2.2 II.- The lawyer’s assistance in the Spanish buying and selling process
- 2.3 So why use a lawyer in Spain? It is obligatory to hire a lawyer when buying or selling a house in Spain?
- 2.4 Tips when hiring lawyers in Spain when buying/selling a house in Spain
- 3 2.- How much Lawyer’s costs to represent for buying/selling a house in Spain?
- 4 Tips to help to detect a quality service for lawyers in Spain – Construction lawyers
- 4.1 Hiring qualified construction lawyers to deal with your purchase/sale transaction
- 4.2 What type of services are usually offered by Spanish lawyers in property transactions?
- 4.3 Qualified construction lawyers: Legal study of the house, the building, the plot, and the history of the construction
1.- The concept of “Bar Association” and how to be a lawyer in Spain
– Spain – “Colegio de Abogados”
In Spain, lawyers must register with a “ Colegio de Abogados ” to be able to practice their profession. Bar associations are professional institutions that represent lawyers and regulate the practice of law.
In Spain there are 83 Colegio de Abogados , one for each province and one for the Autonomous City of Ceuta and one for the Autonomous City of Melilla. The bar associations are grouped together in the General Council of Spanish Lawyers (“Consejo General de la Abogacía”), which is the representative body of the Spanish legal profession.
To be able to register in a bar association, the lawyer must meet the following requirements:
- Have the nationality of Spain or a member state of the European Union.
- Have a law degree or equivalent.
- Master of Access to the Legal Profession (2 years)
- Have passed the bar entrance exam .
Once a lawyer enrolls in a bar association, he or she acquires the status of “ registered lawyer .” The registered lawyer has the right to practice law throughout Spanish territory.
Bar associations have the following functions:
- Representation of lawyers.
- Regulation of the practice of law.
- Training and updating of lawyers.
- Free legal assistance.
- Defense of the interests of citizens.
Colegio de Abogados are a fundamental piece of the Spanish judicial system. Bar associations ensure that lawyers meet training and professional ethics requirements , and that citizens have access to quality legal defense.
– France – “ Barreux ”
In France, bar associations are called “ Barreaux ”. There are 161 Barreaux in France , one for each judicial district . To practice the profession of lawyer in France, it is necessary to be registered in a Barreau .
The “ Barreau ” is a professional organization that represents lawyers in its judicial district . It is responsible for ensuring the ethics and discipline of the profession, as well as providing services to lawyers, such as training and legal assistance.
To register in a “ Barreau ”, lawyers must meet the following requirements:
- Have a law degree.
- Have passed the bar entrance exam .
- Have completed a two-year practical training period .
Once registered with a Barreau , lawyers have the right to practice the legal profession throughout France.
The National Council of Bar Associations (CNB) is the national institution that represents all the Barreaux of France. The CNB has the responsibility of establishing the deontological rules of the profession, as well as supervising the operation of the Barreaux .
– Germany – “ Rechtsanwaltskammern ”
In Germany, lawyers register with bar associations, which are called “ Rechtsanwaltskammern ”. There is one bar association for each federal state of Germany, plus one for the Federal Supreme Court of Germany.
In order to practice law in Germany, lawyers must be registered with a bar association . Registration takes place after the lawyer has passed the two state law exams and has met the requirements for practical legal training .
Bar associations have several functions, including:
- Authorize the practice of law.
- Regulate the legal profession.
- Monitor compliance with deontological rules by lawyers.
- Offer services to lawyers, such as continuing training, legal assistance and representation in court.
Bar associations are autonomous organizations governed by the Federal Lawyers Law (BRAO) .
– United Kingdom (UK) – “Bar Council” or “ Law “Society ”
In the United Kingdom, the legal profession is divided into two main branches : barristers and the solicitors .
The Barristers are the lawyers who act before the courts , while the solicitors They are lawyers who provide advice and representation to clients in legal matters.
Barristers check in at one of the four Inns of Court : Gray’s Inn , Lincoln’s Inn , Middle Temple and Inner Temple . The Bar Council of England and Wales It is the regulatory body for barristers .
Solicitors register with the Law Society of England and Wales . The Law The Society is the regulatory body for solicitors and also provides services to its members, including training, professional development and legal support.
In addition to the Law Society of England and Wales , there are other bar associations in the United Kingdom that represent lawyers from certain regions or areas of practice. For example:
- Law Society of Scotland represents Scottish lawyers
- Law Society of Northern Ireland represents Northern Ireland lawyers.
In Belgium, lawyers have to register in a “ Barreau ” of lawyers to practice their profession. There are twenty-five “ Barreaux ” of lawyers in Belgium, divided into two groups:
- Bar associations of the French- and German-speaking community :
- Eleven francophones:
- Brussels Bar _
- Bar from Antwerp
- Charleroi Bar _
- Bar of Liège
- Bar of Mons
- Namur Bar
- Tournai Bar
- Huy Bar
- Luxembourg Bar _
- Verviers Bar _
- A German-speaking :
- Anwaltskammer Eupen-Malmedy
- Eleven francophones:
- Bar associations of the Flemish community:
- Thirteen Flemish :
- Orde of Vlaamse Balies Antwerp
- Orde of Vlaamse Balies Brugge
- Orde of Vlaamse Balies Gent
- Orde of Vlaamse Balies Hasselt
- Orde of Flemish Counters Leuven
- Orde of Flemish Counters Ostend
- Orde of Flemish Counters Roeselare
- Orde of Flemish Bars Sint-Niklaas
- Orde of Flemish Counters Turnhout
- Orde of Flemish Counters Kortrijk
- Orde of Vlaamse Balies Aarschot
- Order of Vlaamse Balies Limburg
- Thirteen Flemish :
Bar associations have the function of ensuring the ethics and professionalism of lawyers, as well as representing lawyers before judicial and administrative authorities.
– The Netherlands – NOvA
In Holland, lawyers have to register with the Nederlandse Orde van Advocaten ( NOvA ) , which is the Dutch bar association. NOvA is a professional organization that represents Dutch lawyers and ensures compliance with the standards of the profession .
To register with NOvA , lawyers must meet the following requirements:
- Have a valid law degree from a Dutch university or a foreign university recognized by NOvA .
- Have passed the entrance exam to the Dutch legal profession.
- Have completed a two-year internship at a Dutch law firm.
Once lawyers meet the requirements, they can apply for registration with NOvA . The NOvA will review the application and, if approved, the lawyer will be able to begin practicing law in the Netherlands.
NOvA also offers a number of services to its members, such as :
- Continuous training
- Legal advice
- Representation before the courts
NOvA is based in The Hague .
– United States (USA) – “Bar Associations ”
In the United States, the bar associations or associations where lawyers must register to practice their profession are called Bar Associations . Each state in the Union has its own Bar Association , which is the body in charge of regulating the practice of law in that state.
In order to practice law in the United States, a lawyer must be admitted to the Bar Association of the state in which he or she wants to practice. To do so, you must meet the requirements set by the Bar Association , which typically include obtaining a law degree from an accredited law school , passing a Bar admission exam , and completing a period of supervised practice.
The American Bar Association (ABA) is a national bar organization that has no jurisdiction over state Bar Associations . However, the ABA sets educational and ethical standards for law schools and attorneys, and its recommendations are typically followed by state Bar Associations .
Bar Associations perform a number of important functions, including:
- Regulate the practice of law
- Promote ethics and excellence in the legal profession
- Represent attorneys before the government and the public
- Offer services to lawyers, such as professional training, legal advice and financial assistance
Bar Associations also play an important role in defending civil rights and social justice.
2.- Why using a lawyer when buying a property in Spain?
Why should you use a lawyer in the process of buying a property in Spain ?. Notary and lawyer/solicitor in the process of buying properties in Spain.
The Spanish buying process is very similar to other countries. Foreign investors in the Spanish system will find many similarities with their home countries.
But, however, also we may find many differences.
The most notable difference is the position and functions from the lawyer and the notary functions.
I.- Some examples of lawyers’ assistance in property transactions in other countries:
Property transaction (“Conveyance”) in UK
In the British buying and conveyance process (“Conveyance”), the notary is not involved at all in the process of a property sale. Seller and buyer are assisted in the transaction with the help, each one of them, with their own lawyer.
Then, the buyer’s lawyer, and the seller’s lawyer, are the ones who, from the first steps up to completion take control of the sales process, doing and completing the change of name of the property, and the payment of the price, taxes, etc. Both solicitors are the ones who made the contracts, take care that each party fulfils its obligations, payment of taxes, they organize and receive payments and complete the registration of the property to the new owner, etc.
As conclusion: Notary does not take part on the British property transaction system of buying and selling properties, and there are two lawyers/solicitors, one on the buyer, and the other by the seller, who participate in all stages of the process.
Property tranasctions in the rest of European countries – France, Belgium, Germany, Netherlands, etc.
In these countries, on the properties’ buying/sale process, the presence of the notary is essential. Notary does everything.
Unlike the British system, in the continental system, both parties, buyer and seller, use the notary, as the intermediary of the transaction, from the very beginning to the end, and he makes the following:
- Approximation of parties, and the formalization of the transaction by contract.
- Control of the fulfilment of each party ‘s obligation.
- Performs of legal, administrative and tax research of the property.
- Urbanistic and construction research of the property.
- He makes and receives all the payments from the sale.
- Complete the deeds of sale.
- Complete the registration in the land register on behalf of the new owner.
- Report and pay taxes from the purchase and sale
- Make the change of the contracts of supply of water, electricity, local taxes, etc.
Conclusion: The function of the LAWYER in the buying/selling process in these countries is zero. Lawyer is not involved in this process, except when there is litigation resulting from judicious litigation.
II.- The lawyer’s assistance in the Spanish buying and selling process
It can be said that the process of buying Spanish is a mix between the two systems considered: The “British” and the “Continental”.
Spanish notary vs Spanish Lawyer
In the Spanish property transaction process, the notary is really important, but not enough to make a purchase with total guaranties and security. The presence of the Spanish notary in the purchase process is essential because, like other countries such as France, Belgium, Holland, etc. , the sale cannot be registered in the land register without having gone through the formalization of notary acts (or escrituras”).
The notary also checks essential information such as:
- The ability of the parties to buy or sell. That is, if the buyer has the legal capability to buy and the seller to sell.
- Study of limitations and charges on the property.
- The study of property documents, such as building permits and licenses, etc.
- Verification of the way of payment, etc.
But unlike the “Continental” notaries, the Spanish ones does not do more than the functions mentioned. That is to say about the functions of the Spanish notaries:
- Legal and urbanistic study: The notary does not make a construction/urban study of the property as consulting planning. There is information on the property at various sources such as the Cadastre,, or Town Hall, Urbanistic and Planning Development Departments, local and regional departments, which are not consulted nor verified by the Spanish Notary during the purchase process.
- Notary does not check if the property has any kind of penalties or fines for the construction, or for example, a demolition order.
- Notary does a check on the registration of the property, but, in Spain, the majority of the construction penalties, and fines are not recorded in the property/land registry.
- There is no study or verification of possible future development projectslikely to affect a property (eg, expropriation, or a future highway, or even an urbanization project, etc.).
Unfortunately, there are cases in Spain where the buyer has completed the purchase without the assistance of a specialized lawyer, with a perfect notarial formal process, and perfectly recorded in the cadastre and the land register. So, formally perfect. And then, after the purchase process, he found that there was missing a license or certificate of occupation (“certificate of habitation”), or even had an expropriation order for a highway project, for example, or that the property had urbanization charges, or part of the plot must be given or lost to the administration for extension of a public road, etc .
This lack of planning study by the notary creates particular problems in the following properties:
– Properties in urbanizations: For example, the builder did not complete the urban development, and the urbanization infrastructure, and then, there are works of urbanization without finalizing, which must be completed, and paid, sometimes, by the owners.
– Properties, houses, or villas in rustic areas or COUNTRYSIDE: These properties are generally in the rural area and outside the urban areas. These properties, typically villas or vacation homes can have problems such as:
- Lack of license or constructionof the main dwelling
- Lack of building license or license for an eventual extensionof the main building, or its accessories (pool, garage, etc.).
- Problems of identification or definition of the boundaries of the plotor land, etc.
- Urbanistic and construction penalties, fines, or demolition orders, etc.
– Villas and apartments in old housing with serious infrastructure problems or pending the development of project or improvement, etc.
The above information will not be obtained by a notary in Spain.
Unfortunately, in Spain, legal, administrative, and planning information affecting the property, are not condensed into a single point of information, as it should be the land register. In Spain, the information in the land register, although essential, is not complete.
The information contained in the Property/Land Registry in Spain does NOT collect ALL the necessary information that affects the property.
- Contracts and payments: The notary prepares the payments of the property, nor chooses nor prepares the sales contracts. So, the buyer does not pay the purchase price to the notary. In Spain, payments of the price, or parts of the price, are paid to the lawyers, the real estate agency or the seller.
At our firm, customers sometimes ask us the bank account of the notary to make the payment of the purchase price, and are surprised when we inform that in Spain, the notary does not receive payments, and that payments must be paid directly to the seller, or his lawyer, or to the real estate agents.
- Registration and change of the ownership names at the Land registry office: The notary, once the process of purchase is completed, with the signing of the notary deeds of sale, has no obligation to proceed to the registration of the transaction in the register land. Therefore, there are notaries who do this management, and there are others that do not realize it. And, even in the notaries who perform the registration service, do not come to register the purchase if the buyer does not expressly request it!.
As lawyers, we have seen many situations where sellers have discovered that even their deeds were not registered at the Land Registry.
At the time of the purchase, current owners went to the notary, and once the purchase was completed, and being confidents that the notary would make the necessary actions to complete the registration steps, they did not instruct the notary to act the registration in the land register. So, the notary never did it!. Therefore, over the years, have found that the properties were still on behalf of the previous owners, because he did not give the order to the notary, and were not assisted by a lawyer in your process.
- Change of ownership of the water, electric, Council Tax bills etc: The notary DO NOT manage the change of ownership of water supply contracts, electricity and others like the property tax or municipal.
Also, notary does not arrange the domiciliation of the payment of these services in the bank account of the buyer by direct debit.
- Certificate of habitation: As explained in other sections of this site, the buyer must obtain a certificate of occupancy, in place, also called “Certificate of habitation”. Out of new properties (the ones bought directly from builders), the notary does not request to provide a valid certificate of habitation to the vendors.
Real Estate agents vs Spanish lawyers
The activity of the real estate activity is starting to be regulated in Spain, with the exigence to be registered in a “Real Estate Association”. Depending on the different regions in Spain, real estate agents are required to be registered and to demonstrate their acknowledge of the real estate market, and legal and tax advice.
The intermediation of the real estate agents in the purchase process is essential. Being assisted by a reputed and officially registred agent is one of the most important points that buyers and sellers must do when buying or selling properties in Spain.
In instance, real estate agents’ legal advice is not enough to consider the legal and tax aspects involved in a property transaction, as:
- Planning of the tax and legal aspects of the buyer/investor,
- Establishing the legal points of defense of both parties in a contract
- Solve eventual disputed between parties during the purchase/sale process
- Complete legal and urbanistic searches on the property (legal boundaries, legal affections, servittudes, fulfilling construction normative, etc.)
For this reason, the assistance of a qualfied lawyer is required in the property purchase and selling process in Spain.
So why use a lawyer in Spain? It is obligatory to hire a lawyer when buying or selling a house in Spain?
As stated above, to have a complete idea, and to get information on the buying process, you need to get this information from different local, regional sources, land registry, planning departments, and also to consult with architects and other specialists, etc … ALL THIS WILL NOT BE MADE BY A SPANISH NOTARY.
To do this you will need to get the services of a lawyer who can get all the information from different sources and to check all the ncessary legal and administrative points.
Besides of this, unfortunately, this process is quite complicate so, NOT ALL LAWYERS ARE VALID FOR ASSITING IN PROPERTY TRANSACTIONS. So you need a lawyer who, besides that speaks your language, and who knows real estate law, he must also be a specialist in construction and urban planning law, and to count in his team with architects, and other professionals and technicians, to have enough capability and skill to obtain all the necessary information, and to complete of all aspects regarding the purchase of the property.
Tips when hiring lawyers in Spain when buying/selling a house in Spain
Therefore, at this stage, once the purchase decision is solid, TLA, our firm, advises you to:
- Contract a lawyer. There are companies or agents who present themselves as lawyers and give “legal service”, or offers their selves as “legal advisers”, and, in fact they are not lawyers. Sometimes they are not even Spanish!.
- Contract a lawyer registered in Spain. Do not be tempted to use lawyers in your own country. Only national lawyers know the system of buying and the Spanish buying process.
- Lawyer must speak your language. Avoid companies of lawyers which do not speak your language.
- Check that the lawyer is a specialist in Urban and Construction Law. He/she must be an expert in real estate law, but also, he must understand of urban planning and construction.
2.- How much Lawyer’s costs to represent for buying/selling a house in Spain?
The cost of a lawyer’s fees to represent you in the purchase of property in Spain can vary depending on a number of factors, including:
- The experience and qualifications of the lawyer.
- The complexity of the transaction.
- The location of the property.
In general, lawyer fees in Spain are usually charged at a percentage of the value of the property, plus VAT. The percentage usually ranges between 1% and 2%, but can be higher in complex cases or high-value properties.
Why are Spanish lawyer’s fees calculated based on a percentage of the value of the property? Don’t they charge by the hour?
The reason may be historically determined by the calculation of fees based on the official “Fee Scales” of the Spanish Bar Associations.
As we have seen in this article, the Bar Associations in Spain are distributed in judicial districts or by provinces.
Historically, these institutions determined “minimum” fees that the lawyer had to charge for each service.
In the past, these scales were mandatory, but today their monitoring is completely voluntary, meaning that the lawyer is free or not to use the criteria established in these standards for his offer to the client.
The sole exception to this “freedom of fee agreement” is established in the calculation of legal costs in the event of a judicial dispute. In these cases, these scales are usually used as references in the event of a judicial dispute. the exclusive effects of valuing that item (the fees) in the incidents of cost assessments or sworn accounts of lawyers.
Let’s see how a lawyer involved in a real estate transaction in different parts of Spain would quote, following the scales of each association or district.
Calculation of Lawyer’s fees when buying a house in Spain by regions
Malaga lawyers’ fees
The Malaga Bar Association approved its own scales on September 18, 2006.
According to this scale, the different actions carried out by the lawyer are valued with a series of “points”, which accumulate as the process progresses. Finally, the total number of points generated is multiplied by an amount that is updated each year, and which is approved by the Malaga Bar Association. For the year 2023 the value of the officially approved point is 71,50 EUR (plus VAT 21%).
Let’s see how it works in a purchase and sale transaction:
- Simple consultations of less than one hour: 2 points = 143 EUR + VAT / hour
- Complicated consultations or consultations lasting more than an hour: 4 points = 286 EUR + VAT
- Telephone consultations: 1-2 points = 71,50 – 143 EUR / telephone call
- Written communications (emails): 3-6 points = 214,5 – 429 EUR + VAT/email
- Opinions, reports and reports: 10 points = 715 EUR + VAT / report
- Meetings with other lawyers: 3-5 points = 214,5 – 357,5 EUR + VAT/meeting
- Management (notary, registry, City Hall): 2 points = 143 EUR + VAT / Management
- Contract drafting:
- Up to €30,000: 2% of the property value
- Up to 60,000 EUR 1%
- Up to €150,000: 0,7%
- + EUR 300,000: 0,5%
*This percentage is increased by 50% for complicated contractual operations, such as a language other than Spanish, or one of the parties to the contract being a foreign national.
**If in addition to “drafting” the contract, the lawyer “negotiates” its clauses until reaching an agreement, it increases by 100%.
Therefore, at a glance, without focusing on the consultations, opinions, meetings, etc. that may arise from a real estate sale, and focusing only on the service of preparing and negotiating a real estate purchase and sale contract.
Let’s assume a case, a specific case of sale:
- 3 Complicated consultations with the client: 858 EUR + VAT
- 10 phone calls: 715 EUR + VAT
- 30 emails: 2.145 EUR + VAT
- 3 reports (one on the study of the property, another on the tax calculation, and another on the client’s civil and personal considerations): 2.145 EUR + VAT
- 5 procedures with a notary, 3 with the City Council and 3 with the property registry, and 2 for each change of water, electricity and IBI = 13 x 71,50 = 929,5 EUR + VAT
SUBTOTAL: 6.792 EUR + VAT
To this amount must be added the fees derived from the drafting and negotiation of the purchase and sale contract:
For a property of 500.000 EUR:
- Redaction: 0,5%
- Contract complexity + 50% = 0,75%
- Negotiation + 100% = 1,5%
SUBTOTAL: 1,5% x 500,000 EUR = 7.500 EUR + VAT
Therefore, according to the fee scale of the Malaga Bar Association, updated to 2023, if we add the actions prior and after the purchase and sale contract, to the fees derived from the drafting and negotiation of the purchase and sale contract, the result is:
6,792 + 7,500 = 14,292 EUR total fees for legal assistance in a real estate purchase and sale transaction in Malaga.
According to this calculation, the total fees accrued by the lawyer for this sale could be 3% of the value of the property.
This amount, which is the one officially calculated through the official scale of Malaga, is what justifies the quote that is usually offered by the province’s lawyers for advice on property purchase and sale transactions, and which ranges between 1 -3 % of the value of the property + VAT.
Valencia Lawyer’s fees
The Valencia Bar Association approved its own scales on September 9, 2007.
These scales quantify the services of a lawyer in a real estate transaction based on the “value” or “amount” of the transaction. That is, the “price” agreed upon for the sale between buyer and seller. According to this value, percentages are applied on a scale, which are defined according to the functions or services entrusted to the Valencian lawyer.
In this way, based on the official scale and considering the phases and services that the lawyer would perform in a home or property purchase transaction in Valencia, we can make a simulation of the fees that would result from applying said scales.
- Departures, consultations, phone calls, communications: 60-200 EUR / share
- Drafting of complex contracts (contracts in which one of the parties is a foreigner, speaks another language, or that must be drafted in another language are considered complex): 50% of Scale I
- Notarial acts: 30% increase in fees derived from drafting the contract.
- Contract Negotiation: The above fees increased by 50%.
- If the amount of the contract is greater than 600,000 EUR. The amount of fees accrued up to now will be increased by the following percentages:
- Up to €1,200,000, 25%.
- From €1,200,001 to €1,800,000, 50%.
- From €1,800,001 to €2,400,000, 75%.
- More than €2,400,000, 100%.
Therefore, for an example of a real estate sale for an amount of 500,000 EUR, the fees according to the fee scale of the Valencia Bar Association would be as follows:
- 3 Complicated consultations with the client: 300 EUR + VAT
- 10 phone calls: 600 EUR + VAT
- 30 emails: 1.800 EUR + VAT
- 3 opinions (one for the study of the property, another for the tax calculation, and another for the client’s civil and personal considerations): 600 EUR + VAT
- 5 procedures with a notary, 3 with the City Council and 3 with the property registry, and 2 for each change of water, electricity and IBI = 13 x 100 = 1.300 EUR + VAT
SUBTOTAL: 4.600 EUR + VAT
To this amount must be added the fees derived from the drafting and negotiation of the purchase and sale contract:
- 50% of Scale I = 11.113 EUR + VAT
- Notarial acts + 30% = 3.333,9 EUR + VAT
- Contract negotiation: 5.556,5 EUR + VAT
SUBTOTAL: 20.003,4 EUR + VAT
Therefore, according to the fee scale of the Alicante Bar Association, if we add the actions prior and after the purchase and sale contract, to the fees derived from the drafting and negotiation of the purchase and sale contract, the result is:
4,600 + 20,003.4 = 24,603.4 EUR total fees for legal assistance in a real estate purchase and sale transaction in Valencia region.
According to this calculation, the total fees accrued by the lawyer for this sale could be 5% of the value of the property.
This amount, which is the one that is officially calculated through the official scale of Valencia, is the one that should be charged based on this document. However, the reality is that most qualified and registered solicitors quote brokerage quotes for advising on property purchase and sale transactions range between 1-3% of the property value + VAT.
Tips to help to detect a quality service for lawyers in Spain – Construction lawyers
Hiring qualified construction lawyers to deal with your purchase/sale transaction
It is a grave mistake to hire a lawyer service in Spain for a price lower than the ones quoted by qualified lawyers. The reason of this is because it could result in a poor quality service, or a big fault of legal guaranties of the process.
A reduction of few hundreds of Euros in lawyer’s fees could not be nothing in comparison with the investment of property acquisition.
So, it is essential to hire a reputed, experienced, and skilled lawyer. For this, the Spanish lawyer must be expert, not only in real estate law, but also in Construction.
What type of services are usually offered by Spanish lawyers in property transactions?
Buying a property in Spain requires a very complex process where a lot of information is needed to complete the proper legal study of the case and of the property.
In many occasions you will receive offers of services from lawyers in Spain like these ones:
- Intermediate, prepare and redact private contracts, even in your language.
- Cheking the property has not debts for water, electric, etc, and for Council Tax, Community of owners, and other charges at the land registry and the Catastro office.
- Calculate taxes and expenses on the acquisition
- Prepare documents at the notary office
- Organize payments
- Assist and prepare the notary’s office
- Accompanying you at the notary’s office to sign the deeds, or to assist you by power of attorney
- Complete the registration process of the property on your name.
- Changing the water, electric and Council Tax bills on your name
- Preparing and obtaining notarial Power of Attorney to represent you through the complete process
- Visas, Golden Visa, Residence Permit, etc.
The above services are correct. The majority of the lawyers in Real Estate Law offer these “formal” services, which are essential to proceed in the purchase process.
Legal Study of the property
In the majority of the cases from lawyers in Spain, following services are provided:
- Legal searches on the property:
- – Confirmation of the ownership
- – Check if there are any legal charges or debts affecting the property
- – Check if water, electric, and taxes are paid
Services mentioned above are also correct, and they must be processed in the right way in the acquisition process.
Both services: Formalities + Legal Checking of the property, is what you may expect in the majority of the lawyers’ service in Spain when buying a property.
But, unfortunately, this is NOT ENOUGH, in order to have a safe and guaranteed transaction, the proper “Legal Study” or “Legal Searches” must be more completed.
Qualified construction lawyers: Legal study of the house, the building, the plot, and the history of the construction
Why the services usually provided by lawyers are not enough?.
Because, as buyer, you need and deserve to know ALL the information and aspects affecting the property, the house and the building. And, as yoy may see in the mentioned list, in no case a “legal study of the construction, the building, or the plot is made”. And this is the MOST ESENTIAL point of the transaction: The HOUSE.
What kind of Legal Study or Legal Searches a qualified lawyer must do when buying a house in Spain?
- Checking if the property is duly registered in the right way in ALL the registries and database which legally affect the property, not only the land registry, but the Cadastre, the Town Hall, the Council Tax office. It is not only to check if there are “debts” in the Catastro or in the Town Hall, the most important is to check “how the property is registered” in the different registries in Spain. For example:
- To find discrepancies in meters of the hosue, the plot, boundaries at the land registry office, the Catastro and the Town Halal
- To confirm if the property fulfills with construction normative. Sometimes we find that the construction do not match with official plans and borders. In other occassions we find villas or apartments do not match witht the construction laws, and there are fines pending, or even demolition orders!. This kind of information is not obtained when the lawyer is simply checking debts.
- Checking the construction situation of the property, of the building, how it was built with all the permits etc, and its history, evidencing if there were modifications made in the property (like extensions), and if they were made with all the necessary legal documents, etc. Also, it is necessary:
- To confirm the rights of building in the proeprty (in case of Villas), in order to foreseen eventual limitations on license for construction or to reform in the future.
- To confirm the possibilities of reform in apartments. Sometimes local laws, or internal normative from the co-owners avoid to make determinate reforms on the apartment.
- To confirm the possibilities to rent, to donate, to inherit, etc.
- To check the Certificate of Habitation and its possibilities to be renovated on your name with no problems.
- Checking the Community of Owners decisions to detect any eventual project of reform in the apartment/building, out of the normal maintenance. This is more than to check if there is any “debt” affecting the property. It is necessary:
- To make an extra work to be provided with the proper community acts to check if the rest of the neighbors are paying their community charges, and that all the communal areas of the building are in perfect estate and managed.
- Checking if the building has passed all the Inspection Controls by the Town Hall
- Checking if the building
- Checking if in the area is projected any public or private development which may affect the property:
- In case of properties in urban, to confirm if all the urbanisation costs are paid, or if there are any kind of infrastrcuture works pending to be made and paid by owners.
- In case of Villas, to check if the plot borders are affected by any kind of limitation, extention of road, pavement, public actions, etc.
- In case of rustic land Villas, to check if the land and the area is protected, or if it has any kind of linitation or affection for forest, flooding, land erosion, environmental impact, etc.
Conclusion: Hire Qualified construction lawyer. Complete legal searches
Civil and professional insurance to cover the price of the property
Your lawyer must be covered by the proper civil insurance to protect you in case or fault of service, bad practice, or negligence.
So, ask your lawyer to show you his Civil liability insurance to cover, as minimum, the price of the house.