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Purchase a Property in Spain

Purchase a Property in Spain

5. The Copia Simple and the Escritura Publica

The contrato de compraventa is a private contract, and as such it cannot be inscribed in the Property Register and may not be accepted by third parties as proof of ownership of the property.

To register the property its necessary to convert this private contract into a public deed: this is done by the Escritura Notarial (notarial act), whereby the notary confirms that the transaction is in conformity with the relevant legal requirements and that the necessary transaction taxes have been paid, and witnesses the signing of the documents by both the vendor and purchaser.

All parties to the contract must be present to sign the escritura at the notary’s office, including a representative of the bank if the purchaser is arranging a mortgage. If a person cannot be there, he must arrange a poder (power of attorney) to allow someone else to represent him. As mentioned above, the vendors are all the people registered as owners in the Registro. If there have been any changes to the ownership, such as a recent death of one of the owners, this change must be notarised and registered first, before the property can be sold.

THE NOTARY is a public official: his role is to ensure that the relevant Spanish legislation has been complied with, to advise the parties of their tax obligations, to certify that the contract has been signed by the specified parties.

He does not in any way advise the parties to the transaction, nor does he check that statements made in the contract are true. It is the lawyer who must be instructed to do this.

The COPIA SIMPLE is, as its name suggests, a simple copy of the escritura. It is the document the buyer needs in order to pay the plusvalía and to transfer or register for contribuciones (these are payments towards the local rates, the IBI), electricity, water, telephone or other services, change the address on his bank account etc. The notary will give you a copia simple once the escritura has been signed.

If the property is to be registered, the notary will send the primera copia (first copy) of the escritura to the Registro together with the receipts for the taxes paid. Make sure the notary does this by fax the same day. The Registro will then enter it immediately into the daily journal in order to prevent any other charges being registered ahead of yours.

Once the primera copia has been fully registered it will be allocated its registration number, stamped and returned to the notary, from where it can be collected by the new owner. This process usually takes a couple of months.



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