Barcelona Real Estate
Buying and selling a property, whether a private dwelling or business premises, is very different to doing the same thing in the UK or many other European countries.
Thousands of homes are sold every year in Spain, and the vast majority of these sales involve the work of an estate agent.
The Spanish name for an Estate Agent's office is 'Inmobiliaria'. In Spain they work just the same as in most countries, and that is to sell, sell, sell properties. Beware of high-pressure salesmanship, and this is no different in Barcelona.
If you are looking to purchase a property, you probably won't have a choice in which agent you have to deal with, because you will be more interested in the property being offered. During the purchasing, it is much more important that the Abagado (Solicitor) is one that you have faith in and who you are sure will deal with all the paperwork correctly. It might be worth considering other peoples recommendations. The Agent might well suggest his preferred Abagado, but beware, that recommendation might be to the agents financial benefit. If you can't speak good Spanish, make sure the Abagado you choose can speak fluent English. Lots of mistakes can be made through misunderstandings, and you may be 'lumbered' with them for as long as you own the property.
Unlike in the UK, a Spanish Abogado can work for both the seller and the buyer of the property, so conflicts of interest can occur. Make sure the one you choose is entirely independent, and is working only for you. Make sure he or she does a good and proper search and that all the papers are in order, as many properties in Spain are not entirely legal, or do not always have the necessary planning permission, even although the previous owner may be paying all the necessary rates and taxes. Quite often the local authorities give planning permission but fail to record it - that will cause problems for you at a later stage.
The purchase of a property takes about 4 weeks in Spain, and initially you will be asked for a deposit of about 10%. This amount usually includes the Real Estate Agents fee. The final stage is for buyer, seller and their Abagados to attend a Notary's office, where the deeds of the property are read out loud to be sure everyone understands them. Naturally they will be read out in Spanish, so it is important to ask your Abagado to translate as the reading proceeds (not at the end) - another reason why he should speak and fully understand English. When that is complete, you will be asked to hand over the balance of the purchase price, and the property will be yours at that point. There are still cases reported where the purchaser is asked to pay the balance of the purchase price as two separate payments. One will be the legally declared amount and the other smaller amount will be merely put into the sellers back pocket, with no questions asked. This situation is slowly changing, but you may still come across it.
Unlike in the UK, it is very difficult in Spain to sell your property and buy another one on the same day, unless you have adequate finance to cover both transactions.
Next, if your grasp of Spanish is limited, you need to ask the Abagado to arrange for you to be recognised as the new owner of the property with the local authority, electricity and telephone companies, and any other services that may be supplied to the property. You may also need to arrange for direct debits for these suppliers, and on receipt of your bank details, your Abagado will normally arrange this for you.
Having moved into your newly acquired property, any external alteration or extensions you desire, must first have planning permission from the local authority, in this case Barcelona. Failure to do this may result in such work being pulled down at your expense - sometimes the whole property, not just the extension.
If you are purchasing a business, it is most important to have the services of a good Abagado, preferably one used to dealing with business properties. Make sure all aspects of the business are looked into. Remember, the estate agents quote of sales figures may be an exaggeration to sell the business, so always ask for such things as the previous years accounts, and if not available, the purchasing figures and documents as a way of estimating the actual sales figures. If appropriate, arrange a stock take, and never take the word of the seller, however plausible he or she may be. Remember, they are business people and they want your money.
For a full list of Abagados in the Barcelona area, consult Yellow Pages telephone directory or get a personal recommendation.
There are many Estate Agents in Barcelona and surrounding areas, and once again it is worth consulting the Yellow Pages telephone directory or get a personal recommendation.
If you decide to sell your property without using an estate agent, although you will save on the agents fees, you will probably need to rely more on your Abagado (Solicitor) to get you through the whole process and this may add to your costs.