the art of being legal

Legal considerations for foreign real estate investors in Spain

If you are thinking about investing in real estate in Spain then you are in good company.  More and more people from around the world are buying property in Spain and for good reason.  Not only does the country enjoy a sought-after climate, a delicious and varied cuisine and a certain, famed joie de vivre, making it an enviable place to call home, its booming tourist industry and the routes to residency given to investors also make for important and potentially lucrative investment opportunities.

However, investing in a foreign country is far from simple.  The legal and cultural system will be different from your home country, meaning that nothing can be assumed.  Here are some key legal considerations to bear in mind when investing in real estate in Spain:

How to buy real estate in Spain?


Choosing the ideal location for your investment is crucial for many reasons.  For example, if you are looking to rent the property to holidaymakers, you might prioritise easy access to transport links and attractions, while if you are looking to live in the property, you might prioritise the employment or education opportunities nearby. 


However, from a legal standpoint, you must remember that the rules on purchasing (and consequently renting) property differ from one region of Spain to the next.  For example, the government of the Balearic Islands has recently been aiming to limit house sales to those who are not resident on the islands.


If you are planning to use the property as a holiday home that you will rent out, you need to make sure that you know the legal rules on doing so before you purchase the property.  For that reason, it’s important to get legal advice from someone who has experience with house purchases in the geographical area in which you are interested


Try before you buy

Okay, so you probably can’t actually try living in the house before you buy it, but make sure you at least see the property in person. 


Unfortunately, foreigners are vulnerable to scams and miscommunications for many reasons.  Maybe your excitement about moving leads you to take risks that you wouldn’t in your home country.  Maybe someone takes advantage of your unfamiliarity with the local language or customs or assumes you were aware of something that you weren’t.  Maybe the high-quality photos and video walk-throughs, etc. of the property, made you feel like you had such a good impression of it that it didn’t feel necessary to travel abroad to view it.


However, there really is no substitute for walking around the property yourself (and the surrounding areas) and getting a feel for what you are buying, who you are buying it from and where it is located


Bear in mind that if it seems too good to be true, it probably is. 


Check for charges/debts linked to the property

You must make sure that the property is free of encumbrances and check if it has a mortgage, if there are any pertinent legal restrictions to be aware of, etc.


In order to obtain the relevant information, you can ask the Property Register for a simple informative statement (nota simple informativa) or have the notary’s office check for you.


You will also want check that the property is up to date with its payments of property owners’ association fees (las cuotas de la comunidad de propietarios) as, if it is not, you may be obliged to pay these debts after purchasing the property.


Know the process

Knowing what to expect from your house purchase will help you to anticipate costs and potential obstacles. Here is a summary of the main steps that you will need to take:

  • Get a NIE number (Número de Identidad de Extranjero).  This is the identification number for foreigners in Spain and it is necessary to have one in order to be able to complete basically all governmental, administrative and economic procedures and applications in Spain, including purchasing a property.
  • Find the property you want to purchase
  • Sign a reservation contract (contrato de arras) and make an initial payment towards the purchase (in order for the property to be temporarily taken off the market).  From this moment on, there will be a penalty if either you or the seller pull out of the property purchase/sale, but the short time between signing this contract and officially buying the house will be the last chance you will have to check that everything is in order and legal.
  • Sign the deed of sale (escritura de compraventa), generally through the notary’s office, and start paying for the property.
  • Pay a series of taxes and fees. It would be prudent to account for an extra 10-15% of the property total to pay for taxes, notary fees, legal fees, property register fees, etc.  You might also consider consulting a tax advisor in order to anticipate the one-off and annual taxes that you could be subject to as a result of your purchase. 
  • Register the property at the Property Register (Registro de la Propiedad)


Golden Visa

You will want to consider what your options are for legally residing in your new property, if that is what you wish to do. 


If you are a citizen of the European Union, this is pretty straightforward.  It’s a bit more complicated if you are a citizen of another country.  However, the so-called ‘Golden Visa’ presents an exciting residency permit for non-EU citizens who plan to invest in Spain. 


One of the ways to obtain this visa is to invest 500,000 euros in real estate in Spain.  You can buy just one or multiple properties, as long as the total investment is of at least 500,000 euros, free and clear of any liens.  The Golden Visa allows you and your accompanying dependent family members to travel and work freely in Spain and travel around the Schengen area without needing to reside in Spain long-term. 


For more information about the Golden Visa, see our full explanation here:




Home insurance

You will probably want to invest in home insurance (Seguro de hogar) for your new property in Spain.  Home insurance is not obligatory unless you have a mortgage, but it is recommended. 

Types of insurance offered will often range from the most basic (básico, sencillo) to the most comprehensive (a todo riesgo), so make sure to check how much protection they provide and exactly what they cover.  If you don’t feel comfortable dealing with these things in Spanish, many insurance providers now give the option to view their website in English or even tailor their services to expats.   


Hire a professional

When you hire professionals to help you with your property purchase, you’re paying for peace of mind.  You’re paying for the pleasure of being able to enjoy the run up to your new investment (and perhaps your move abroad!), rather than worrying about every last detail.  Relocation agencies, estate agents and law firms can all help you in varying degrees to sail through the bureaucratic, administrative and tax-related elements of the purchase, avoid linguistic miscommunications and cultural confusions and, if applicable, obtain a permit to live in Spain. 


Here at Conesa Legal we are proud to have a multi-lingual team of lawyers, legal professionals and financial advisors which includes experts in house purchases, immigration and tax.  Book an appointment with us to find out how we can help you to make your next investment in Spanish property:


Contact our Real Estate Specialist:



Date published: 4 September 2023

Last updated: 23 April 2024