tips for expats buying a house in Spain

7 tips for buying a house in Spain as a foreigner

I worked in estate agency in the UK for 12 years so I was pretty clued up about buying property and all it entails…but it all works quite differently in Spain and we did come across a few unexpected surprises!

If you are planning on buying a house in Spain, it’s definitely worth being aware of the differences, and read up on what you’ll need to know to avoid any unexpected (and costly!) surprises.

I won’t go into all the legal parts of buying a property in Spain here, as I wouldn’t want to share the wrong information, but we’ve put together a list of some of the things that surprised us when we bought our casa last year.

Read this guide to buying property in Spain to discover our tips for buying a house in Spain as a foreigner…

Get your NIE first

When buying a property in Spain as a foreigner you will first need an NIE. This is a document needed by anyone wanting to buy a house, car, and sometimes even big electrical items.

If you don’t have one your solicitor can sort this for you on completion, however it may save you time and money to do this yourself before putting offers in on properties in Spain.

The advertised price

When buying a home in Spain it’s really important to know that the price you see advertised on a property portal or in the estate agent’s window isn’t the full price you’ll pay. In Spain IVA (VAT) is added on top of the actual advertised property price – this is around 10% for residential properties so is quite a lot of extra money to find if you’re not prepared for it and significantly increases the cost of buying a house in Spain.

You will also need to budget for solicitors fees, land registry, change of utilities and more, so it’s a good idea to budget for an extra 13% – 15% in addition to the price of the property when planning to buy a home in Spain.

Multiple agents

Unlike in the UK, sellers in Spain usually list their properties with multiple estate agents. So, if you want to go on several property viewings it’s easier to let one estate agent know all the properties you’re interested in as they can often arrange all the viewings for you. This can save you having to meet up with lots of different agents, and is handy if you find an English speaking estate agent you like.

Community fees

Always make sure you ask the estate agent about community fees. These can vary a lot depending on the amenities available, e.g. communal gardens, communal swimming pool, tennis courts etc, and are usually paid annually. When owning a property in Spain on a community, even if you have your own pool, you could also have to contribute to the costs of a communal pool if you live on a community with shared areas.

Heating and Air Con

Remember that the temperature inside Spanish houses varies massively throughout the year – we were warned about this but weren’t prepared for just how much it differs! If you view a property in the hot summer months you might not even give a thought to heating, but we promise you that in January you’ll be freezing if you don’t have a fire or plugin heaters (central heating isn’t very common in Spain). The same goes for air conditioning, you won’t be able to cope without it in the summer and it can be quite expensive to install, so if you can buy a property that already has air con you’ll save yourself some money in the long run.

Furnished properties

It seems to be normal in Spain to sell your house with all the furniture in it, which is great if the furniture is to your taste, but if you’re left with a house full of old fashioned furniture you’ll probably have to end up paying someone to take it all away. It’s a good idea to find out what furniture is being left behind so you can get an estimate for someone to take it away, and also work out when you can move your own belongings in. We were left with a house full of furniture as well as things like bedding, a printer, kitchen utensils, and a lot of wine and had to spend 2 days getting rid of it all (except the wine!) before we could move our own things in. Luckily we managed to get a second hand furniture shop to collect most of it and actually made €200, so that’s also something worth looking into.


One of the biggest differences when buying a house in Spain is that you have to pay a deposit once your offer has been accepted by the seller. This can be anywhere between 10-20% of the property price and is non-refundable if you don’t not complete in the contracted time-frame. One thing to be aware of is that you can only arrange your mortgage once you have made an offer on a property – so if for some reason you cannot get a mortgage and have to pull out of the sale, you’ll lose your deposit.

If you are planning on buying property in Spain, we hope that these points will help you to avoid coming across some unexpected surprises or losing money.

Happy house hunting!

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6 tips for expats buying a house in Spain | Our Spanish Adventures

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