Buying a 15 year old property with no escritura

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08 Jun 2015 12:48 by vinuela Star rating. 4 posts Send private message

We are considering buying a 15 year old detached house In a village. It has the necessary construction permissions from the ayuntamiento but the Spanish owners have not bothered to get an escritura. They pay IBI so it has a cadastral value. What are the implications of no escritura and what is the process to obtain one?

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08 Jun 2015 20:20 by Roberto Star rating in Torremolinos. 4495 posts Send private message

Roberto´s avatar

I have no direct experience of such a situation, but purely based on 18 years of living and working in this country, I would say that there are plenty of problems to had for free, so why buy one?

Plenty more fish in the sea. Barge poles come to mind. Just my humble opinion and no offence meant. Best of luck with whatever you decide to do. wink



"Politicians and diapers must be changed often, and for the same reason"

Mark Twain




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09 Jun 2015 11:10 by acer Star rating. 1365 posts Send private message

Why not communicate with the vendors and let them know you're interested in buying, but if they wish to sell to you they should obtain the escritura?

They will probably tell you it's unnecessary, this is the Spanish way blah blah, but stick to your guns.  At least there will be a chance that they might get the problem resolved - otherwise I agree with Roberto, no way Jose.

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09 Jun 2015 13:48 by Roberto Star rating in Torremolinos. 4495 posts Send private message

Roberto´s avatar

Thought there'd be more answers to this one by now, but since there aren't, I'll stick my oar in a bit further!

"the Spanish owners have not bothered to get an escritura" - this doesn't make sense to me. An escritura is a title deed. Without one, how do you know the so called seller is in fact the owner? Someone must own it. If you have a copy of an IBI receipt, there will be a catastral reference number on it (ignore the calue for now). With this reference, it is possible to obtain a nota informativa from the land registry (costs something like €15), which will detail what the property is and who owns it. I suspect that, if the Spanish owners are the ones who built the property, they own the land, got permission to build, but never got a certificate of first occupancy (alarm bells!) They would still have an escritura for the land though. And they would pay IBI on it. But the house is probably illegal.

I'll stick to my original assessment - stay well clear, not worth the hassle. However, if this is your dream home and you can't resist, get a good independent lawyer on it, and absolutely do not part with a single cent until the "owners" have legalised everything.



"Politicians and diapers must be changed often, and for the same reason"

Mark Twain




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09 Jun 2015 19:22 by vinuela Star rating. 4 posts Send private message

Thank you for both responses!! The house which we would like to make an offer on does have full permissions and it is within the village urban zone. The family built it on land owned by themselves and have had it several years, using it only as a holiday and fiesta home.  They told us that they had not bothered with applying for an escritura because they had no need for a mortgage and did not anticipate ever selling it.  We are passing it through our solicitors now for their opinion.  It does seem a strange strategy to us, not to sort out the paperwork before putting it up for sale, as it will restrict their market to cash buyers only.  We have seen copies of the IBI bills, and have checked this out with the town hall, they do pay for the house and the land.  Your guidance on the land registry is much appreciated.



thank you for the guidance regarding how to

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10 Jun 2015 05:27 by Lifeline Star rating in Murcia. 367 posts Send private message

Lifeline´s avatar

There are plenty of legal properties around. WALK away from this one!


This message was last edited by Lifeline on 10/06/2015.



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10 Jun 2015 11:02 by Roberto Star rating in Torremolinos. 4495 posts Send private message

Roberto´s avatar

It does sound like you have your head still screwed on and are proceeding with caution - I just hope your lawyer is truly on your side and knows what he's doing.

The "owners" must have an escritura for the land at least? That would be a start. Having permission to build from the town hall means nothing, and even proving that they pay rates for both the land & property would not assuage my concern - chances are this family are well connected with the town hall, and anything is possible. I would make sure your lawyer is checking with the land registry and the Junta. 

It's very easy to be taken in by the old "it's normal here in Spain". It may not be uncommon, but it's not normal, if that makes sense? Ask yourself this: if you were looking at a property in the UK for which the sellers had no title deed, what would you think? 

I'm afraid I agree with Lifeline on this - run for the hills!



"Politicians and diapers must be changed often, and for the same reason"

Mark Twain




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10 Jun 2015 15:58 by vinuela Star rating. 4 posts Send private message

Thanks Roberto for your advice. We are indeed ultra cautious and may well not proceed much further with this venture.

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10 Jun 2015 17:59 by marcbernard Star rating in Marina Alta; Alicant.... 246 posts Send private message

Back in 1997 I purchased a village house which was "unregistered". It was in fact a semi wreck and was cheap. It had been the residence, some years earlier, of the parents of the current neighbours opposite. Meanwhile another guiri had purchased the building but decided to sell it on because of (possible) difficulties, or whatever. My wife and I wanted the house so decided to bear with the possible problems. 

What was required was to lodge a notice in the town hall on the public notice board saying that we were the buyers etc. The notice had to remain for, I believe, two years, so that any potential litigant could take action to claim the property as theirs (no doubt requiring certain proof). Given that the neighbours assured us of the history, and they were people of good standing in the village, we went ahead, and rebuilt. No problems arose!

That is the sort of situation needed to overcome your own doubts. Without the above history existing, you would need a strong will to continue. If you feel the house is worth it, there's the option.

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10 Jun 2015 19:51 by acer Star rating. 1365 posts Send private message

That's interesting, worth more than just a "like".

I still wonder what the vendors is playing at.  To me it seems either arrogant or extremely lazy to try and sell the place w/o an escritura.  They must realise that it's absence is likely to jeopardise the sale, so why not rectify the situation themselves?

If you decide to buy and take Marcbernard's route you'll be dreading each knock on the door for the following 2 years.  There's also the planning uncertainty.  The building may have been built 15 years ago, but has it had recent extensions?  The law in Spain seems to be changing on this, at best you may have a "more than 4 year protection".  But presumably there are no licences either.

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11 Jun 2015 11:17 by amogles Star rating in El Campello (holiday.... 170 posts Send private message

I'm a bit confused ovr terminology.

Isn't an escriture the purchase contract that you sign in the notario's office.

It proves that you bought the property. It does not prove you still own it. Therefore having or not having it shouldn't make any difference many years down the line.

It's the catastro that says who owns the property.If the catastro says somebody else owns it, then you need clarification. If the catastro says the seller owns it, surely everything is OK?

Or what am I missing?

I'm talking about the land ownership here. The legality of the building may be a separate issue, but so much stuff in the small vilages and in the campo is built illegally that there is a certain level of safety in numbers.Of course having all the paperwork is still preferable.

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11 Jun 2015 11:20 by GuyT Star rating. 487 posts Send private message

Roberto: "Ask yourself this: if you were looking at a property in the UK for which the sellers had no title deed, what would you think? "

Funnily enough I am in this position in the UK. My parents died a couple of years ago and left me their house. I have been unable to find the deeds.
I got title indemnity insurance for a one-off payment of £240 for £600k worth of cover. This covers the property owner against any defect in title, including no deeds.
Can't you buy title indemnity insurance in Spain? It's a huge business in most of the developed world. Especially in this case, the OPs sellers seem to have good root of title.

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11 Jun 2015 12:53 by acer Star rating. 1365 posts Send private message

In a previous life I had responsibility for an insurance department which wrote all manner of Legal Indemnity covers.  I can say categorically that no insurer on this planet would wish to have any involvement whatever in providing any form of contingency cover for property title in Spain! 

It would be a road to disaster as there is so much ambiguity in the Spanish system, even the word "system" is probably undeserved flattery.


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