When you buy a property in Spain; What happens in the notary
Upon arrival you are shown into an office with all the parties involved to wait for the Notary. You may pass an uncomfortable half hour or more of silence or small talk with the vendor, who you may be meeting for the first time. The Notary – who always exudes importance – will then breeze into the office, take a seat at the head of the table and start the proceedings.
The notary will confirm the identity and other personal details of all the buyers and sellers present, and then read the deeds out loud. Some notary’s like to show off their English by giving a partial translation, though most will just read them out in Spanish. Whatever the case you need to be sure the deeds are correct before you sign them, which means having a translator present or relying on your lawyer. Some notaries will refuse to sign the deeds unless a foreign buyer has a lawyer or translator present.
The notary will also make certain legal checks, though these vary by autonomous region. As a minimum they should have request a property registry filing just before the signing to confirm the vendor’s title, and that the property is free of any (unexpected) encumbrances. This leads some estate agents to claim that buyers are perfectly well protected by the Notary and don’t need a lawyer. This is not so. In reality the Notary gives you little protection so you must be accompanied by an experienced and qualified professional when signing the deeds.
If nobody objects to the content of the deeds the notary will pass them around for signing by all parties, and confirm the payment of any outstanding amounts by the buyer before the keys are handed over. This is when you produce payments such as bank drafts for any outstanding amounts on the declared price (the price stated in the deeds less any deposits or down payments already paid.
AFTER SIGNING THE DEEDS
After signing the deeds the property is all yours, though the taxes still need to be paid and your title inscribed in the property register.
You will be given a copy (copia simple) of the deeds to take away after the signing. Each copy costs around 30 Euros so you should decide how many copies you want in advance. You can use the copia simple to do most things, such as set up utility contracts and pay taxes. A few days later your lawyer will be able to collect the original deeds signed by the notary (copia autorizada), which are needed to inscribe your title in the property register. In the meantime, the notary should have faxed notification of your purchase to the property registry immediately after the sale, thus blocking the register for 10 days and preventing anyone else from inscribing a claim to the same property during this period.
REGISTERING THE DEED OF TRANSFER AND PAYING THE SALE-PURCHASE EXPENSES
Once buyer, seller and Notary have signed the Deed of Transfer and the seller has received payment, the buyer has to pay taxes (see “Negotiating the Purchase Price” above).
The Notary carries out the entire tax payment and registration process. If you are using an independent solicitor, he or she will handle it. Either way, you will be asked to make a payment to cover estimated costs.
The Transfer Deed is then taken to the Land Registry to be recorded and the property put in the new owner’s name. This typically takes around six weeks, and is the last step in the sale-purchase process.
2-3 months later the formal Escritura document will be ready for the buyer to collect at the Notary’s office.
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