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Buyers Checklist

 

Professional people and documents you may need when buying a property in the northern Costa Blanca.

When buying a property in the Costa Blanca North, you will need professionals to assist and advise you through the various stages of buying your property.  You will also need some documents such as the NIE.

Real Estate Agent  
Better still, use an independent service working for you, like Get Spain to make sure you are getting the best deal on your property purchase
 
Solicitor (Abogados)
You should always use a solicitor with good Spanish and English. It is not enough for a secretary to be bilingual, they are not liable if they misinterpret messages or legal documents. The lawyer must converse with you in your own language to minimise risk of misunderstanding (which can be expensive). Preferably use a firm of lawyers that have more than one practicing lawyer on hand to deal with your purchase to ensure continuity.
 
Accountant
In Spain, you are best advised to use a Gestor (Accountant). The same applies for these people as above (lawyers). Gestorias settle accounts, deal with residency, car taxes and imports, registration of number plates from UK to Spanish, and all sorts of other things you will need when you own property here in the Costa Blanca north.         
                                                                                                                                                                
Surveyor
The rules for buying a property in Spain are very different to that of the UK. A Surveyor is not automatically involved in a purchase. If you are buying an older property we advise the services of a local Surveyor who can explain the issues with the structure of the property to you so there are no nasty surprises to wreck your budgeting and therefore the project through ill conceived planning at the first hurdle.  

Architect
Depending what and where you are building an architect should visit the land you are buying to advise on land slippage, depth to rock, issues regarding insurance, potential problems with the type, size and style of house allowed in your zone. It is also worthwhile and viewing his work with other similar projects before making any commitment or agreement. Once he starts with the plans  it's too late to pull out without paying his fee.                                                   

Building or restoring Old or new property?
Old properties have very different characteristics and need more maintenance. New properties are popular for rental but may lack the Spanish character of fincas and farm houses. Make sure you know exactly what you want to buy and all the reasons why.                                                                                                                                        

Will planning permission be readily forthcoming?
Do not take an estate agent, owners or developers word that permission will be given for the changes you want to make to your property. Laws are changing here all the time and local government are often slow to make the changes obvious. The laws will be debated, passed and you risk being on the wrong end of a decision if you take at face value the promises made by people with a vested interest in selling a property.
The first check you should make is what is happening with similar properties locally. If you are in an urbanization and your neighbour has permission to add a glassed in annexe to their property, you will be most likely to get the same permission for yours. Take photos of the neighbours building and present it to the town hall when looking for license to build. 

Be realistic about the amount of work needed
We can arrange for builders to come along to meet us at properties and to advise on reform costs and direct you to D.I.Y stores to price materials for construction.
 
Other issues that with you we work to find the right answers and then have those answers written into a legal contract.      
Building, restoring, renovating
  • Planning permissions granted for developing the property or land
  • Expiry dates for the license if any
  • License renewal issues on expiry
  • Other developments locally and their impact on your project
  • Are there ground conditions that may affect the building work, and how can these be surveyed, agreed and secured before purchase, or as part of the purchase process
  • Check boundaries, rights of way, easements or covenants 
    Have old property checked over by a surveyor first
  • Will restoration have to conform to any heritage or local council regulations?
  • Are there local planning restrictions?
  • Find an architect through personal recommendation
  • Be crystal-clear about your expectations
  • Keep all receipts to set against rental costs or CGT when the property is sold in the future

How to find the right property

Which region?
The Costa Blanca north has everything to offer including the international airport of Alicante which is a maximum of 90 Minutes from any point within the region.

Who will use the property and when?

This is where most buyers go wrong or to be fair are steered in the wrong direction by real estate agents eager for commission payments

Renting is a business like any other. It needs careful planning, financial understanding, risk assessment and common sense. It needs to be approached with caution and marketed like any other business. Potential renters don't find you on the web without any marketing.

How many bedrooms and bathrooms?
If you are coming to the Costa Blanca to live, you may have family and friends visiting. Also, you may be downsizing from your UK property but still want space. Less accomodation equals less cleaning. If you are buying to rent go for one bedroom properties within your budget as they are more rentable than any others and you can always put a sofa bed for added guests. The property itself will still rise in value in the same percentage terms.

What kind of outside space ? garden/garage/pool?
These things are very important in the place you live day to day, but they cost and before you spend the money needlessly, ask yourself if you really need them in a holiday home. Your life here is mainly outdoors but there are bars restaurants everywhere and many are really inexpensive so a garden is not an absolute necessity. Very different if you are going to live in the property.

From a rental perspective a pool is the most important followed by a garden and/or proximity to the beach. Consider a property on an urbanisation with communal pools, no upkeep or repairs, and usually in very well cared for surrounds.  

Ideal climate?
It may sound a strange point to make but if you have asthmatic, rheumatoid or breathing ailments you really don't want to be in the mountains in the winter!

We often see this where people with these conditions come to view properties in beautiful sunshine. Properties which are very different in the winter. We really do get it all, storms, fog, high winds occasional low level snow.....proper winter! (the good news is they only last a few days at most).

Don't just think about now, think about the future.  Is a villa in the mountains practical when you have these (or similar) ailments?                   

Accessibility of local facilities?                                                                                                                                                         
Make sure that your ideal property is one that makes practical sense to the reasons you are buying.

Importantly, whatever the situation regarding proximity to shops bars etc, make sure the prospective renter is fully aware, with maps or directions if possible to the nearest facilities.

Accessibility for visitors / holiday renters?

The former is not as important as the latter. Visitors can be collected or met at a well known landmark or point (usually a bar!) Tenants don't want to get lost every day driving around mountains looking for their holiday villa. One of the keys to a successful renting business is renewal. People who rented and enjoyed their holiday are far more likely to renew and to recomend your property to friends and family. It is critical for renting that your property is accessible or if not that your literature explains fully the nature of the property and the access to it.

Accessibility to main attractions of region
The easiest way to make sure this information is available both to help you rent and to make sure your guests are happy is to visit the local tourist information web sites and download pictures, price lists, descriptions and maps. Then format them into a working document (or put them on your website) and make them available to prospective guests.

Also, when you are signing for your property, take the time to go to the local tourism office and collect a handful of attraction brochures, local amenities, places to go and leave these on the table after each rental.

After rental cleaning
If you rent through a company, they will take care of this for you. If you rent to friends and relatives, you will need someone to go in after and wash sheets, clean rooms etc, before the next guests arrive, possibly through an agent. We offer this service for our clients and yes, we do the work ourselves to our own high standard.
 
Real Estate agents

Check their qualifications as a Real Estate Agent 
Be specific about the property you are looking for
Be specific about your budget

Line up a number of properties before you visit

To take each point in turn, from our perspective.

Unlike real estate agents, we employ a full time researcher in our business, we do not employ sales people. The benefit to you is that our researcher is trained to review your perfect property, and get to work finding the closest we can get to the property that meets your sepecific requirements and budget. As we are independent, we have access to thousands of potential properties, therefore maximizing the chances of finding the right one for you.

We have a policy of only advising on properties within your budget. There is no point in showing you properties that are outside your budget plans. We make the assumption that you have done the sums and worked out what you are comfortable spending, working from that premise, we advise on properties you really can afford.

Before you arrive in the Costa Blanca nort you will have seen by email a number of properties, and chosen the ones you want to see. In addition allowing for the fact that some or all of these properties may be sold by the time you arrive, our business system of only taking on one client at a time means that our staff are allocated to your case for the duration of your visit. The benefit here is that as we progress through our viewings, we are on hand to review, research and make new appointments. This means no wasted time, no disappointment, just carefully researched properties that fit the bill, we just need to find the perfect one.

Before you buy

Get to know the region thoroughly
We will take you on a tour of the Costa Blanca north area we cover, show you schools, doctors, shopping centres and introduce you to rental agencies if required. You let us know before you arrive what you need to achieve in terms of research and we will make sure it is organised for you when you get here.

Consider renting in the area before you buy
If you are buying to live all year roundand especially if retiring, this is a good idea. We can arrange short term rentals for you with contract clauses to allow you to move in at short notice.

Visit the property at different times of the day/week/year
We always advise clients to go back to an area for dinner to get a feel for the place.  Talk to locals and get independent views on buying in the area. Our extensive local knowledge of the Costa Blanca north region means we can direct you to an English bar where you can chat to other people that have bought locally and it is a great way to get the 'warts and all' issues of an area.

Get to know the property market in the area
We will meet so many agents, owners and developers that we tend to get a very diverse overview of the area and property values. If we have clients that have bought locally we will call them for a chat to see if they are happy with their decision to buy in the area. If they are and you decide to buy in the same area, fine. If not then we keep on looking until we do find the place where everything fits.

Ask what exactly is included in the asking price
If a property is sold fully furnished an old trick is that the property is left fully furnished but with different furniture than the good quality items you saw when you decided to buy. We can take digital pictures of the contents and make an inventory to be written into the sale agreement.

If you don't want certain items within that inventory, we can arrange for a local second hand furniture dealer to buy the items from you. Of course you wont get much for them but the time and hassle of removing them from the property means you are often better to just let them go and bring in your own items as and when you are ready.

Check proximity to mains utilities if unconnected
This is very important. If you buy a property without power or water, there may be a reason why it has not been possible to connect it.
 
Check for any rental restrictions attached to the property
If you are buying in an urbanisation , there may be rules governing renting to pet owners, or long term lets. If long term rental is an issue, make sure you talk to the president of the urbanisation or the administrator of the area before making a firm decision to buy.

Take as much advice as you need
Our business is based on the fact that we know the people we should be talking to and we have been through the whole process ourselves. We will make every introduction to professional people as the buying process moves on. We have knowledge of each professional and always allow an alternative in case you feel you want to get second opinions on any issue.

If buying off-plan

Check plans for future development in the area
We will accompany you to a meeting with the developer (not just an estate agent) to get the whole picture on the development. Our policy is to make sure you have all the facts before making a decision on your purchase.

Consider how your property will differ from the show property
This issue is dealt with by ensuring your specification is written in to the contract at the earliest moment. This is where a lawyer really earns his fees.

Find out whether there are any restrictions on owners in the community
see above

Find out what the community charge actually includes
When we find the right property together, our job is to get a full breakdown of the figures relating to running costs

Investigate how much of the infrastructure has been put in place
This is achieved at the developers meeting. We get a full run down on future plans for the area. We have information on most developments and areas within the Costa Blanca north. 

Double-check money will be paid in stages
This to be written to contract by your lawyers

Retain a percentage until six months after completion
This allows for checks on build quality and completion of the outer infrastructure. The amount held back depends on negotiation between us and the developer

What is actually included in any maintenance charges?
This to be written to contract by your lawyers

Will there be any extra outgoings?
This to be written to contract by your lawyers

Budgeting

Working out your budget
Stay within your budget.
It is easy to overspend, and if you are building you need to make sure the builder is tied to costing estimates, and does not come up with any surprises along the way.

Be aware though that this can happen, so it is good advice to have kept back some funds from the initial build spend budget.

Costs associated with the purchase (guide only)

7% ITP transfer tax

Up to 1.5% Legal fees

Notary fees

Land registry charges

IBI Tax

annual rates

Water rates

Electricity

Communidad

Wealth tax for non residents

Income tax, from rental income

Mortgage repayments and set-up costs

Non residents can get a 70% mortgage maximum

Arrangement fees

Notary fees

Land registry fee

Gestoria fees

Monthly payments

We can arrange for meetings with Mortgage brokers for both English and Spanish financial institutions

Shop around to find which lender is offering the most favourable terms.

Be prepared to submit detailed accounts of your financial affairs. The adviser will require proof of earnings to secure a mortgage offer.

Pay slip
Accountants letter
Employers letter as proof of earnings

Decide whether to take out the mortgage in Sterling or Euros
Your adviser will discuss this with you based on your circumstance. We can arrange a number of people to come and talk to you about their particular mortgage products

If buying a second home abroad examine the benefits of taking out a home equity loan from your UK mortgage lender
Your adviser will discuss this with you based on your circumstance. We can arrange a number of people to come and talk to you about their particular mortgage products

Consider the pros and cons of an offshore mortgage
Your adviser will discuss this with you based on your circumstance. We can arrange a number of people to come and talk to you about their particular mortgage products

When you arrive

Notify mains companies of your arrival date (or ask your real estate agent to do so)
The change of owner details regarding utilities is the responsibility of the law firm representing you in the purchase.

Open a bank account in Spain
We will introduce you and accompany you to an English speaking international bank

Register with a local dentist/doctor

We will supply a list of all of the key services you will require when you arrive here in the Costa Blanca north

NIF, CIF & NIE

If your intention is to buy property in Spain, as you start your research you will come across an abundance of abbreviations describing many aspects of Spanish legal requirements. Some are a waste of space, others form part of the law and cannot be ignored. Three such abbreviations concern the NIF, CIF and NIE numbers.

We'll deal with the NIE first.

In Spain you cannot legally buy property, a house, car, boat etc without having applied to the police for your NIE number and had your NIE documentation returned. Likewise, you cannot enter into a contract for the supply of electricity, water or telephone line etc without giving your NIE number together with your bank details because these utilities will only accept clients where payment is via direct debit - paid on demand from their banks. This is the theory but as with so many other things in Spain, practice can be different. When told by the average foreigner that they have not yet got an NIE number, most utilities will accept the passport number. However, don't rely on this.

Of extreme importance for anyone who has just purchased a property is to be able to insure it. With some companies, to arrange an insurance policy or order goods or services or even to register with the State health system it is usual for the NIE number to be asked for. However, as mentioned above, the passport is often all that is required to get the ball rolling.

Property by the way should be insured from the moment it is transferred into your name.  It's surprising at just how many seem to think it can wait until such times as they are living in it.     

You may be told that you require a NIF number by some and a NIE number by others but the simple fact of the matter is they are both the same - referred to differently according to the circumstances. The NIE is used for confirming your identification but if you wish to carry out any fiscal function such as opening a bank account, buy a property, car, boat etc it is referred to as an NIF (fiscal) number. Why? - Who knows!

In common with much other misinformation relating to Spain, there is the belief that solicitors and others may apply for the NIE number on behalf of applicants but in July of 2003, the law required that the applicant apply in person. Suffice to say that in some regions, lawyers are still applying for NIE numbers on behalf of their clients whilst in others, their only involvement is to collect it on your behalf following the completion of the registration process.

To apply for your NIE, visit the appropriate police station and ask for the form of application. It is advisable, if not absolutely necessary to be accompanied by someone who speaks Spanish. You could of course simply collect the form and take it away for completion but this will entail another eternity of queuing. Get Spain Moraira will assist any client with obtaining their NIE numbers.

You will require:
Your Passport and a photocopy of your passport.
Two coloured passport size photographs.
You must give a Spanish address of your residence in Spain. It can be a friend's property so long as they will accept the responsibility for you as living with them. Remember to notify your change of address when you are settled into your final home.

Take Note! Processing your application takes a minimum of one week or as long as 5 weeks.

Caution! You will often be asked to show your NIE registration document at the various ministries etc. Always carry photocopies - never allow anyone to retain your original.

Up until quite recently it was necessary for non-resident owners to appoint fiscal representatives to deal with the matter of taxation arising from property ownership. Today this is no longer required and you can deal with your own affairs if you think you are strong enough.

However, non-resident owners who own more than one Spanish property
must appoint a fiscal representative in Spain to act on their behalf on all dealings with the Spanish Tax Office (Delegacion de Hacienda).

CIF number

The corporate tax identification number (CIF) is the equivalent to the UK VAT number. It is needed by all people running any type of business in Spain, and becomes either an individual's or company's identification for tax purposes and is required for all transactions.

The CIF is obtained upon application to the Spanish Provincial Tax Office (Delegación de Hacienda).

These are only general guidelines and not definitive statements of the law. All questions about the law's applications to individual cases should be directed to a Spanish lawyer or other competent source.

 

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