Buying Property In Spain FAQs

Before purchasing real estate in Spain, you must be very clear about the buying process. It will help if you work with an agent who speaks your language fluently, and it is essential to hire an independent English-speaking lawyer.

This page deals with some questions frequently asked by visitors to our office who are thinking about buying a property for sale in Spain.

Can UK nationals buy property in Spain?

Anyone can buy a property in Spain, and very little has changed for UK nationals wishing to purchase post-Brexit. Spain is generally a very welcoming country for foreign buyers.

The rules for purchasing a Spanish property for non-EU residents are relatively straightforward. Before you can do anything, you’ll need an NIE (fiscal number), which is issued at police stations with a foreigner’s department. If you are not in Spain, you can also apply at the Spanish consulate or Embassy in your own country. If applying at the police station, expect to wait a few weeks or a little longer if you use the consulate.

Spain also offers a Golden Visa for foreign property buyers who invest more than £500,000 in real estate. The investment attains residency for the buyer and their immediate family. Holders must renew the visa every two years for five years when permanent residence is granted.

Golden Visas are particularly popular with nationals from outside the European Union. UK nationals can also apply for a non-lucrative visa, which allows them to remain in the country for longer than 90 days out of every 180 days as long as they have the financial means to support themselves.

Residency is automatically given to European Union nationals.

If I buy a property as a holiday home, can I rent it out?

When it comes to renting out properties, the local authorities have become stricter in recent years because of an influx of foreign investors buying to let. Foreign investment caused significant price increases in areas popular with investors, making it difficult for Spanish nationals to get on the property ladder.

Laws vary in each of Spain’s 17 autonomous regions. The strictest rules are in the Balearic Islands, where only Spanish residents can request a buy-to-let license, and in Madrid, where new measures only allow tourists stays for up to five days.

If you buy in one of the more lenient areas for tourist rentals, you will have to register the property with the local town hall and pay tax on your rental income.

You should also consider that if you live outside of the country, you will need to employ an agency or an individual who takes care of meeting the renters to give them keys, clean on changeover days, and be on call should any problems arise. However, even after meeting these expenses, you can ask for high rents during the summer season and see a healthy profit after your costs.

What are the additional costs when buying a property in Spain?

Fees for buying real estate vary from area to area, and many are negotiable. For example, there are no set costs for lawyers or estate agents. Buyers pay the bulk of the expenses, which are generally as follows:

  • Property transfer tax: 6–10% on resale properties or 10% VAT on new properties bought for the first time
  • Notary fees, title deeds tax, and land registration fees: 1–2.5%
  • Legal fees: 1–2%

The seller commonly pays estate agent fees in Spain. Estate agents charge a percentage of the sale price, typically from 3 to 5%.

Financing a Spanish property purchase

If you have available cash, you can purchase without a mortgage, but if not, you will need to obtain finance to buy a property. Spanish and international banks give mortgages to overseas buyers, providing you meet their criteria.

As a foreign buyer, you will likely find your loan-to-value (LTV) rate is lower than for Spanish residents, which means you will need to put down a higher deposit. Spanish residents can typically borrow up to 80% of a home’s assessed worth, with non-residents limited to 60–70%, depending on the mortgage terms.

How do I buy Spanish property safely?

Although one hears horror stories of Spanish property transactions going sadly wrong from the buyer’s point of view, you have to remember that thousands of sales go through successfully without problems for foreign buyers every year. Providing you use a reputable estate agent and make sure that a lawyer checks everything, there is no reason for the deal to go pear-shaped.

What are the best areas to buy Spanish property?

It depends on your circumstances and personal preferences. It is a very different scenario if you plan on retiring in Spain or if you will need to earn an income.

The Costa Blanca is the most popular Spanish coast for foreign house buyers. The area boasts palm tree boulevards, spectacular sandy beaches, an idyllic climate, and a good blend of modern and traditional cultures.

Buying a house on the Costa Blanca lets you enjoy an outdoor lifestyle, delicious local cuisine, and plentiful leisure activities for all ages. The area has many world-class golf courses and watersports, including surfing, jet skiing, and kayaking.

Despite the modern amenities, you can still find traditional restaurants serving fresh seafood, Mediterranean dishes, and of course, paella.

From Alicante, you can quickly get to resorts up and down the coast by train or bus. Perhaps the biggest lure for the British is that the Costa Blanca is easy to access from the UK all year round, and the transfer time from the airport to the centre of Alicante is just 30 minutes. Valencia airport is also within easy driving distance.

Moving southwards is the Costa del Sol. As the pioneer of Spanish tourism during the 1950s and 60s, the Costa del Sol remains a firm favourite for foreign property buyers. This is in second place on the list of popular expat destinations.

The region’s hot, dry summers justify its reputation as a perfect beach destination, and the important fishing industry is another lure. Fish and seafood feature strongly in local restaurants and are a must-try when staying in this part of the world.

Another emerging area with much potential is Murcia, home to the Mar Menor saltwater lakes. Lying between the Andalusian and Valencian provinces, Murcia is famous for it’s wine, fruit, and olive oil. Even though the region has a coastline of 250 kilometres known as the Costa Calida, until now, it has managed to evade mass commercialism and tourism.

Should I rent before I buy?

If you are moving to any area for the first time, it makes sense to rent rather than immediately buy. Renting gives you space to decide precisely where you want to live and the type of home that best suits you.

There are different kinds of properties to rent in Javea, from studio apartments to luxury villas, to get a feeling of any given area. There are also cheap winter rentals available to let you find out if you will enjoy living in Spain without a sizeable financial outlay

What Else Should I Consider Before Buying?

It’s important to research the area where you are considering a property for sale. A primary reason reported by expats who end up going back to the United Kingdom is accessibility to their chosen area of residence in Spain. Although rural Spanish areas may seem romantic and peaceful, circumstances can dramatically change in the winter.

Conditions such as heavy rainfall can be an issue if you buy a property that you can only access via a dirt track. It would help if you also considered conditions such as your chosen Spanish property might be hundreds of miles from the nearest airport. Airport distance can make it expensive to visit and welcome relatives and friends who live in the UK. Or perhaps there is an airport, but there are no cheap transfers to your town. So you should carefully consider accessibility before you make a real estate purchase in Spain.

Another commonly cited reason people return to the United Kingdom after making the move is financial problems that stem from not planning adequately regarding money. As previously mentioned, Spain has high unemployment rates, and when looking for suitable employment to support yourself and your family, you may face financial challenges you didn’t anticipate. Plan very carefully about how you will make your financial situation stable before relocating to Spain.

What does Javea offer that other towns lack?

Javea is unusual because around 50% of the town’s residents are foreigners, with UK nationals making up the lion’s share. This means there are many groups and social activities for expats, English-speaking radio stations, and newspapers, and it’s easy to hire professionals and contractors who speak your language.

The town has two excellent international private schools, Xàbia International College and the Laude Lady Elizabeth School (LES), catering to pupils aged between two and 18 years.

Javea enjoys a superb warm climate with approximately 320 days of sunshine every year.

According to the WHO (World Health Organisation) Jávea and the Costa Blanca are among the healthiest places to live on the planet.

On the downside, Javea is a resort, and like resorts all over Spain, the town gets very busy in July and August, and it can be frustrating trying to park or having to wait longer than usual in shops and banks.

Must I learn Spanish?

In a town like Javea, with many English-speaking expats, you can get by with little or no Spanish. However, it is advised you try to learn the language. There are varied private and group classes, and many town halls offer subsidised lessons. In a group class, you will have the opportunity to meet new people.

There are also apps such as Duolingo you can use at home. Once you have a fundamental understanding of Spanish, it will make day-to-day life easier when shopping, eating out, going to medical appointments, etc.

Some people find it easier to pick up a new language than others, but trying is important.

What are my work prospects if I move to Spain?

Unemployment is high in Spain. Foreigners’ work prospects are better in larger cities like Barcelona, Madrid, and Valencia. In small coastal towns like Javea, you might find the only jobs going are in bars and restaurants. In most cases, this is only seasonal work. Finding permanent work in Javea can be challenging, especially if you don’t speak Spanish. So don’t expect to arrive and find work immediately.

If you can work remotely online, you can basically live anywhere, but you will need to make sure the area you choose allows you a reliable broadband connection, as in very rural areas, this may not be the case.

If you plan to set up your own business or buy an established concern, make sure you speak to a gestor or lawyer about the legalities. Many people don’t realise that if you are self-employed you have to pay social security each month which does not consider your earnings. Whether you earn under 1000€ or over 5000€, the monthly social security payment is the same. Before you make a move, it is a good idea to work out how much you need to live on and have enough funds to last at least a year.

Get Further Advice

Deciding which property to buy in Spain is a choice driven by your lifestyle preferences and budget. To further discuss investing in Spanish real estate, contact us and we will arrange a chat.

We are an established Javea real estate agency with three decades of experience.

Browse our wide range of Javea properties for sale and fill in the enquiry form to get more details about a listing.

We look forward to hearing from you!

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