Buying a property in Spain – Do I need a lawyer?

We’re often asked whether you need a Spanish lawyer when buying a property in Spain or whether you can just use a notary – notario – to complete a property purchase in Spain. The answer is you need both!

What does a Spanish lawyer do that the notario doesn’t?

The role of the notario in Spain is essential to complete a property purchase – they ensure that all the relevant documentation is prepared according to the law; documentation is completed accurately; that the relevant parties have the authority to sign the paperwork and collect the taxes due. The completion documents must be signed by the parties in the presence of the notario, However, the notario is impartial and, therefore, does not act on behalf of the purchaser or provide individual advice.

An independent Spanish lawyer, on the other hand, represents the interest of the purchaser and will do the following to ensure that your property purchase in Spain is as safe and stress-free as possible:

  1. Obtain a copy of the Nota Simple – a short legal report of the property containing details of the current owner(s); the type of ownership; brief description including the size and boundaries of the property; any charges/debts attached to the property; classification of the property and more. You can obtain a Nota Simple translated into English here. This is to ensure that all the relevant licences are in place, that there are no charges or debts attached to the property (which could be passed on to the buyer) as well as verifying that the seller is indeed the registered owner of the property.
  1. Carry out all necessary searches for the property, such as checking whether there has ever been a planning breach, verifying that there is a License of First Occupation, ascertaining the taxable value of the property and more. Find out in more detail about why it’s important to verify such details here.
  1. Protect your position as a buyer by providing you with specialist advice to enable you to make an informed decision about the property purchase and make the necessary negotiations regarding any issues that arise.
  1. Act as Power of Attorney, if necessary, so that all essential documentation can be signed on your behalf if you are unable to be present in Spain when the paperwork needs signing.
  1. Help you obtain an NIE number, a Spanish identification that is required by non-Spanish residents buying a property in Spain. If your solicitor is appointed as Power of Attorney they are able to obtain your NIE number on your behalf.
  1. Draft all the documentation that is necessary to complete a property purchase in Spain, including preliminary contracts, draft deed of sale and deeds of sale.
  1. Organise an appointment between yourselves (or your Power of Attorney), the vendors and local notario to complete the property purchase in Spain before the notario, during which the purchase deeds will be signed, registered at the land registry and the fees paid on your behalf.
  1. Arrange for the transfer of utilities, such as electricity and water, into your name.

If you’re buying a property in Spain it’s crucial that you instruct an independent Spanish lawyer early in the buying process to ensure that your interests are protected. You’re chosen lawyer should:

  • Be independent –This means your lawyer is not linked in any way to the vendor or estate agent. This is to ensure that there is no conflict of interest and that your lawyer is acting solely in your best interests rather than potentially ensuring the sale proceeds regardless of legal complexities that may be encountered.
  • Be familiar with the local conveyancing system – Spain has 17 autonomous regions, therefore conveyancing laws can vary from one region to the next, so it’s important that your Spanish lawyer has experience in the local conveyancing system.
  • Speak both Spanish and your own language – Things can easily get lost in translation, so it’s crucial that your lawyer is fluent in Spanish, to manage the legal documents in Spain, and communicate easily in your own language to explain everything clearly.
  • Offer guidance before any paperwork is signed – A good lawyer will advise you what should be verified before signing a reservation/purchase contract or paying a deposit.
  • Be clear about the cost  A reputable lawyer should outline all the associated costs with buying a property purchase – including lawyers’ fees, land registry, notary fees and purchase taxes – so that you are aware from the beginning of the full costs.

For more information about buying a property in Spain or for assistance from one of our recommended Spanish lawyers give us a call on 01244 470 339 or email You can also download our FREE Buying Property in Spain guide here.