Even though purchasing a property in Spain is relatively straightforward, there’s still an awful lot more to buying a second home than viewing a few properties. Ensure your purchase is successful by following our guide.

1) Get professional help

This is the most important point in our guide and therefore comes first – get yourself a good lawyer to represent your interests and a qualified financial advisor to deal with any tax issues. Choose these professionals before you even start looking for property. It’s very difficult to choose a lawyer long distance, so get organised and set up your professionals before you do anything else.

2) Look after the basics

In Spain, all foreigners that intend to purchase a property, work or live in the country for any length of time need an NIE number. The NIE (Número de Identificación de Extranjero) is the identification number in Spain for everyone who is not a Spanish citizen, and both EU citizens and non-EU citizens need one. It’s your all-purpose identification and tax number in Spain. Each NIE number is dedicated to one person, it doesn’t expire and it’s non transferable. There are three ways to apply for your number:

  • in person, in Spain, at the local police station
  • in person via a Spanish Consulate abroad
  • through a representative in Spain.

Searching for “Spanish NIE numbers” on Google will show you many ‘how to’ articles detailing the whole process and the paperwork you need.

You should also open a bank account – this will put you in a strong position when negotiating as you can put down an immediate deposit if you like a property and your offer is accepted.

3) Choose a good real estate agent

This sounds obvious but it’s a crucial part of a successful purchase that is often overlooked. A lawyer doesn’t have the same expertise that an agent has. Choose an agent that has lots of experience, top notch credentials and excellent knowledge of the area. A good agent will share their market knowledge with you and after getting to know your requirements will find you the perfect property. If they don’t have this property on their books they will use their network of contacts to find it for you.

Make sure you have your team of professionals in place before you start the process of buying your second home

4) Start your property search early in the year

Start searching early in the year and make your first viewing visit during winter. If you like the property during winter you’ll love it in the spring and summer. If you’re not buying a brand-new property, seeing it during winter will highlight any problem with damp.

5) Do your research 

After you register your details with an agent they will be able to give you the coordinates for a satellite view of any property you like. Study the immediate and surrounding area closely. Go to local shops and cafes, try to really experience the place, even if only for a day or so.

6) Rental potential

Even if you are sure that you will only ever use the home for your personal use, life changes rapidly and you never know what’s around the corner. Your work could take you far away, leaving the property empty for too long, you might face financial insecurity, children might leave the nest making the house too big for your needs, or any other unforseen circumstance. Make sure the property you choose is rentable – it should be in a desirable location, access should be good and it needs be close to amenities. If you’re after a large country estate that’s not close to anything – could you section off parts of it to rent, or are there outbuildings that could be used as holiday cottages?

The purchasing process

If you are buying a property that is unfinished it’s unlikely that there will be any negotiating over the price, you will simply be expected to pay various amounts during the construction period. Your lawyer will ensure that all the necessary insurances and clauses are in the contract.

If you are buying a resale property your agent will help you negotiate the purchase price. We spoke to Christopher Clover, the CEO of Panorama – Marbella’s longest established real estate agency – for his advice on making an offer. “It’s important to remember that if your offer is too low it will not engage the interest of the seller, and might actually prove counter-productive, “ Chris advised. “An articulate offer will generally capture the attention of the vendor. We recommend getting all your points together, rather than negotiating “piecemeal”. Make your offer in writing if possible (of course, subject to contract). Points to include are not only the price, but also the deposit amount and when you are prepared to pay it, when you are prepared to complete the transaction, what you understand to be included in the price (for example furniture and fittings if applicable), and an often neglected point – that all technical equipment and installations should be in good working order. Also, if you have a second choice property you should certainly advise the seller of this fact.”

Christopher has written a highly informative article about “Finding and Buying a property” which will be extremely useful to anyone considering buying a second home in Spain. The article also contains a table of the costs involved in purchasing a property. You can read it on Panorama’s website: The Marbella Property Buyer’s Guide