Buy Property Safely In Spain...NOT!

Published on 8/18/2011 in Buying Process

El Mundo reports that on the website (, the user can get in touch with the Association of Registrars and make an enquiry on a property. A group of experts will then follow up this application and send back the required information, translated into English.

According to a statement from the institution, this new service responds to the need to “help international users to jump the barriers of Spanish legal terminology when investing in real estate in Spain” and the document continues, “to evaluate and correctly interpret the information issued by the Land Registry Offices.”

In addition, the registrars indicate that all legal concepts that appear in the records shall be interpreted in accordance with current legislation in Spain and, in case of discrepancies regarding the translation, the Spanish version will prevail. To facilitate the review and comparison of the original extract and its translation, the information is presented in a double column format in both languages.

Registradores websiteThe Secretary of State for Housing said that “in this way, foreign citizens may have at their disposal, in a format more understandable to them, all the physical, legal and development information about the property, so that any buyer can go to this register before purchasing a property to check that there is no risk in the operation.”

The Chairman of the Spanish Association of Registrars said that “this new service is aiming to bring the registry a step closer to users not residing in our country, and to contribute to the transparency of the Spanish property market beyond our borders”.

I recently took advantage of the new service and for 23 Euros I had the report within 24 hours.

The report I asked for was on our own house in La Zarza, Abanilla.

The first thing that struck me was it looked as if someone had taken the information in Spanish from their records and “googled” it into English.

They describe my beautiful land of Olive and Almond trees as a “a piece of dry land for cultivation of cereals” with an area of 48 areas 80 centiares?. First question then, Whats that?, Is this the size of my plot??!.

The size and description of the house was good, how did they know we had sloping ceilings?.

Another surprising piece of information, the house orientation “The main front faces the mid day”.

They had the pool down but not the garage. I suppose if you were interested in buying the house you would see all that the first visit.

It told me the east boundary was a road, yes I agree. The north and south belong to a Spanish family Mr Gomariz, possible, but the West didn’t belong to Mr Gomariz as stated.

It belongs to my English neighbour who has a very nice villa on it.

It next puts my wife and I as the owners, great, together with our NIE numbers and who the Notary was.

Then we come to a section called – Charges, Tax Exemption.

We have five paragraphs, one after the other with the following similar text in each but a differing amount of money and date, contained therein:

The property is subject for 5 years from today to pay discharge or discharges that might be issued regarding the property transfer and stamp duty tax. The property is free from this charge of (amounts of money) settled by self assessment of which a copy is filed. Cieza on ( date)

The report then concludes with various statements about the data protection, nothing to worry about there.

I wanted to know what the above five paragraphs were about and why other vital omissions were made. What about including the catastral records??

There is a “help” phone line but it is in Spanish and when you ring you get an extensive menu, pulsa this and pulsa, that, after 3 years of Spanish lessons not a clue.

Let's try the email address given. I had the following response when I questioned them about the above “CHARGES, TAX EXEMPTION” .

Dear user,
Afer conversation with Registry of Cieza we inform you the Propterty 20336 of Abanilla is not subject to any charges. That information appears in the land registry report because it is the last registration recorded. Those charges are not longer valid, therefore any payment is necessary.

Respectfully Yours.
Customer Center Service

Sorry, clear as mud.

I have several concerns about this new service.

My garage is not mentioned , it was built in 2007, so a prospective buyer may jump to the conclusion that there is no building license, although there is and its on the Catastral record.

But most important for a prospective buyer, I would think, is the fact that my property is subject to “land grab”.

Yes our builder is planning an urbanization and mine and three of my neighbours are losing over 50% of our gardens. The plans have been in Abanilla Town Hall since June 2007. We had the official Notification in August 2010, that they have initial approval.

Why was there no record of this?. Surely this is vital information if you are considering buying a property

Obviously the new service is not fit for purpose.

This is a ridiculous tinkering with the problem. Why don’t they set up a committee of experts to look at all the property problems and abuses and take their recommendations

What the government needs to do is ensure that lawyers do their conveyance with due diligence.

Below is the link to information on my property and also the phone number and email if you require help

Our Customer Attention service is available on telephone number
00 34 91 270 1796
and at the e-mail address
Thank you for using this service of the Property Registrars.

Written by: Colin Byrne

About the author:

Right arrow icon Send to friends   Right arrow icon Printer friendly version    Right arrow icon Submit your own article


goodstich44 said:
Saturday, August 27, 2011 @ 9:46 AM

buying in the UK is not complicated at all, because unlike buying in Spain you can trust the system. Integrity from banks, lawyers, planners, councils and the justice system is taken for granted. If that was the case in Spain, the property industry would not be in it's current mess!.

Suntrap Property said:
Saturday, August 27, 2011 @ 12:30 AM

The registry "Registro de la propiedad" it is aimed to give plublicity to the official and legal situation of a property. All the improvements or changes made to a property that has not been declared on a deed, by a judge or public administration is not decribed.

As someone said, to buy a property in Spain is as complicated as it can be in UK or Ireland and there are many agents involved: estate agent, registry, council, comunidad autonoma, public notary, banks, etc.

A "nota simple" from the registry does not have the answers of all questions.

Suntrap Property said:
Saturday, August 27, 2011 @ 12:29 AM

The registry "Registro de la propiedad" it is aimed to give plublicity to the official and legal situation of a property. All the improvements or changes made to a property that has not been declared on a deed, by a judge or public administration is not decribed.

As someone said, to buy a property in Spain is as complicated as it can be in UK or Ireland and there are many agents involved: estate agent, registry, council, comunidad autonoma, public notary, banks, etc.

A "nota simple" from the registry does not have the answers of all questions.

Linda Llinas said:
Tuesday, August 23, 2011 @ 9:42 PM

I have read the article above and all I will say, is "don't buy in Spain if you have any sense". I regret buying my home there with hard earnt money from England after selling our home here.(went over as married to a Spaniard and he wanted to return to Spain). Also bought a holiday flat there further south. Have now returned to Britain - thank god. How happy to be back home and feel safe again. Spain just got greedy along with all the estate agents, etc. Talk to a lot of people and they all say the same - Spain thought they had made it - I can only say good riddance!! Regarding translation, British has to do this all the time for the foreigners and unfortunately, I think a lot of the Brits are too trusting and think they will get treated correctly as Europeans

goodstich44 said:
Monday, August 22, 2011 @ 9:59 AM

Justin said
''Sort out the justice system, punish the banks for not safeguarding people's money and scrap the ridiculous land grab law.''

Smack on!. If the 'powers that be' want to kid themselves that they can recover the Spanish property industry without putting these issues right first, then they are just damaging Spain further and further.

Spain's reputation as somewhere good to buy is pretty well shot now. If were just a matter taking all precautions before buying then fine, but it's not. That's just a lie put forward by ignorant selfish people who refuse to accept the ugly truth even now it's staring them in the face! It's about the banks, the hopeless justice system and the land grab. These issues are down to lies, deception, corruption and lack of regulation and implemented law. The victims can do nothing about these, however much homework done or care taken, but they have spread the word!. If Spain is happy to carry on wrecking it's property industry and to some extent it's tourist industry, then it's going the right way about it.

The way forward is clear, but only when those who can make change for the better choose to see it?.

Patricia said:
Sunday, August 21, 2011 @ 2:08 AM

A lot of things are not done properly in many places.
It is not just the English who have invested in Spain; so have other nationalities, including many from my own country, Ireland. They also speak English in do many Germans and Scandinavians.
From a logistics point of view setting up such a helpline could take time, training, securing English speaking people to man the lines, who must also have an excellent knowledge of Spanish (not Spanglish!), and a knowledge of the subject matter. So perhaps, who knows, maybe such a helpline is on the way.
If people want to buy in Spain, they will, and if they don't want to, then they won't.

Are there problems? Of course there are. I've lived in Spain a very long time, and there is room for improvement, particularly where bureaucracy is concerned.

Justin said:
Saturday, August 20, 2011 @ 10:05 PM

Patricia, the point is that the website is in English as it is targeted at the the least they could do is offer some phone support in that language too.

Considering the millions of Euros that Brits have invested in Spain, and the millions that the government wants them to spend again, an English phone support line is not really much to ask for.

At least they should be consistent.

It backs up the whole thing I'm saying. The Spanish government are just trying whatever they think may work without executing it completely.

It's the same problem which has gotten this country into the mess that it's in. So many things just not done properly.

clive said:
Saturday, August 20, 2011 @ 1:20 AM

i always advise never buy in spain unless you can afford to loose your money if the deal goes wrong

I still do not know why the EU have not jumped on spain
if these are not Human rights abuses i do not know what is

Patricia said:
Friday, August 19, 2011 @ 11:54 PM

The author of the article says:
"There is a “help” phone line but it is in Spanish and when you ring you get an extensive menu, pulsa this and pulsa, that, after 3 years of Spanish lessons not a clue."

Just imagine! It's in SPANISH.


Patricia said:
Friday, August 19, 2011 @ 11:21 PM

As Alan says: "The problem, in truth, lies with the fact that the buyers do not speak Spanish. Would a Spanish national buying in U.K. get such a service? Of course not. He would have to hire a bilingual lawyer, and would consider that normal."

Justin said:
Friday, August 19, 2011 @ 10:59 PM

I think the disappointment in this new service is that it isn't a "complete" service. It doesn't tell you everything you need to know to give you the peace of mind that what you are buying is what you are seeing.

Colin is losing half of his garden due to the ridiculous land grab law in Valencia. This information IS vital for a potential buyer of that property to know.

From my point of view this new service is just not enough. The website looks like it was put together in someone's bedroom and it's not complete.

It's a half-hearted attempt to get people buying again but it's just not going to happen like that.

Sort out the justice system, punish the banks for not safeguarding people's money and scrap the ridiculous land grab law.

You may get a nice little report with this new service but it means nothing. The "get out clause" says it's for information only. It's not a legal document and at the end of the day it doesn't give you the full picture.

So, we've had the road show, now this and the latest the 4% IVA for buying new properties this year (will only benefit the banks!!) so what next?

They need to come up with something better and fast.

Patricia said:
Friday, August 19, 2011 @ 10:33 PM

Agree entirely with Alan Hilder, and as Franko says "the voice of cool reason". And everyone please read and then re-read Franko's last paragraph. I asked that self same question as he does on the forum a couple of months back, and the abuse and name-calling I got!! So, good for you, Alan, and I do wish you would post your message on the forum.


Franko said:
Friday, August 19, 2011 @ 7:18 PM

Allan Hilder comes across as the voice of cool reason in the quagmire of Spanish property purchase and ownership.

If he would create a plain-English 'flowchart' of actions which must be undertaken when purchasing property in Spain, with essential 'check-stops' to prevent wrong doing, then it would be very helpful.

Are we British so stupid that we are the only ones to rush into this kind of deal without following the proper procedures and are we the only nationality that gets conned over and over again because we assume so much about so-called 'Professional Integrity' in European Lawyers and Government Officials.

Why do we never hear of German, Dutch, French or Scandinavians getting ripped of like this. Particularly Germans, who have been buying properties in Spain at least as long as we have, and one never hears of their gardens being sequestered for a new road, or the property pulled down for illegal planning.
Maybe it is the Napoleonic Code basis to labyrinthine European laws that they all understand naturally, whereas we are making it up as we go along, (well it seems like the English courts still are)

Fred van Krimpen said:
Friday, August 19, 2011 @ 7:01 PM

Allan Hilder's comments are correct. The mere fact that you can now optain the details in English does not automaticly imply that the system is also changed to one similar in the UK. It basicly all comes down to doing the homework or pay a professional to carry out the job. BTW a good professionl should have an insurance covering his mistakes.

Gillian said:
Friday, August 19, 2011 @ 3:03 PM

I must say that I completely agree with Allan Hilder on this one. This problem is easily overcome by having a spanish 'gestor' to investigate for you if you are thinking of buying a property and what Allan suggests is correct, a visit to the Registry, the Catastro, which can be checked online with references of the property, and the local ayuntamiento is the right way to go. Spain is not England and of course things are done differently, as they would be in any other country in or out of Europe.

shak said:
Friday, August 19, 2011 @ 2:23 PM

They can keep on coming with new gimmicks to extract money. If the records are incorrect and the system is dissjointed with to recompensce it is all meaning less.

shak said:
Friday, August 19, 2011 @ 2:22 PM

They can keep on coming with new gimmicks to extract money. If the records are incorrect and the system is dissjointed with to recompensce it is all meaning less.

Richard said:
Friday, August 19, 2011 @ 1:06 PM

Many thanks to Colin for writing this up. I also agree with Heather.

On another note I can only say the Spanish have used property taxes and a property bubble over many years to boost their economy. Now that economy is in a mess. Merely setting up a web site that attempts (poorly) to overcome the problems in the Spanish Property market and persuade us foreigners to invest is a joke.

What the Spanish need to do is totally reform the market from the lies, deceit, fraud, cons, scams, land grabs, and officials who are corrupt . One poor web site "promising" to fix the problem will not; I've seen it all before in different guises. Spain is not worth the stress and hassle - I speak from being an owner and this web site would not change my mind about any further investment.

Allan Hilder said:
Friday, August 19, 2011 @ 11:59 AM

This article depresses me, frankly. The Registradores have done a pretty good job at providing a service to non-Spanish speakers. The problem, in truth, lies with the fact that the buyers do not speak Spanish. Would a Spanish national buying in U.K. get such a service? Of course not. He would have to hire a bilingual lawyer, and would consider that normal.

The author complains that the Registradores have not included his garage. The Registro merely records what the Notary has witnessed in good faith. If the garage is not included it is because it is not on the property's escritura. Either it has been built without a license or no declaración de obra nueva has been done at a Notary since it was built. The author would do well to hire a Spanish lawyer to rectify this before he attempts to sell his property.

With regard to the charges, I agree it is a little confusing that they remain on the Nota Simple even after they have been liquidated but it is clear from the document that they have in fact been liquidated and are not outstanding.

In my opinion, problems lie not with the Registro, but with the Catastro which in the countryside is almost always wrong and occasionally wildly so. Hopefully, as time passes and GPS points are incorporated, this problem will disappear. Even when a rectification is presented, the Catatstro take, typically, one year or more, to reflect any change on their plans.

Where the author does have a valid point is with regard to pending planning issues. Of course, the Registro does not reflect these because that is not its function. It merely reflects what has been registered. Planning approvals are not registered until a change is made to the deeds via a declaración de obra nueva, which cannot take place until whatever obra is approved is actually done.

A wise person checks the Registry first, the Catastro second and finally, talks to the Ayto. I suggest that if a potential buyer is not confident about doing this in the language in which the documents are written, and (rightly) does not trust machine translation, they hire someone with experience of such documents who understands them and can translate their meaning.

Pat said:
Friday, August 19, 2011 @ 10:43 AM

I agree with Heather

heather said:
Friday, August 19, 2011 @ 10:06 AM

Just about sums it all up, my best advice to anyone is DO NOT BUY A PROPRTY IN SPAIN!

vikki said:
Friday, August 19, 2011 @ 4:27 AM

Thanks Colin for such an informative article on this new service. I for one believed all the hike about this new service, thinking at last they have got their act together,making it safer to buy my house in Spain.
What a disappointment to learn that it is not fit for purpose.

Only registered users can comment on this article. Please Sign In or Register now.

Comment Using Facebook:

Related articles in this category

"Ever Thought of Retiring to Spain?", She Asked

10 Year New Build Property Insurance - Seguro Decenal

2007 – The Outlook for Spanish Property….

4 Ways To Help Your Kids Enjoy Their Spanish Holiday

A Quick Guide to Spain's Autonomous Communities

A Room With A View

Agent Property Sharing Systems Cost You Money

Aparthotels - Touristic Apartment Legal Requirements

Bank Guarantees for Spanish Off Plan Developments

Being a Film Set Extra in Alicante

Bored In Spain? Not The Spanish

Breach of Contract - Off Plan Success Story

Building Defects in New Properties

Bullfighting in Spain - On its Last Legs?

Buy Property Safely In Spain...NOT!

Buying a Property in Spain - 10 Points to Consider

Buying a Property in Spain - The Private Contract

Buying A Property in Spain Just Got Safer - And Much More Affordable!

Cave Houses in Spain - ADSL Included!

Completing a new property purchase

Consumer Law - Abusive Clauses In Your Contract

Costa Brava Holiday Ideas

Currency Exchange from Sterling to Euros

Deadly Secrets And Those Books About Spain

Decreto 218 - What It Is And How It Affects Buying Property In Andalucia

Deposit Contract

Dispelling The Myths Of What Is And Isn’t A Snagging Defect And Some Amusing Responses From Builders

DIY snagging - Some pointers on how to ‘Do-It-Yourself’

Do Not Move to Spain if…..

Documento Informativo Abreviado. Brief Informative Document (DIA)

Don't Blame Spain

Don't Criticise the Junta's Actions, Only the Delay in Implementing Them

Eco-Friendly Holidays

Financial And Currency Overview - 2012

Furnishing your Off-Plan

Getting Planning Permission in Spain

Getting The Best Euro Exchange Rate

Help! I'm Busy But Poor!

How to Choose an Architect in Spain

How To Spot The Timeshare Fraudsters

In Times Of Recession Some Imagination Is Needed - Option To Buy

Is Anyone Still Moving To Spain?

Is Disney Coming to Spain? That'll be No.

Is it Dangerous to Buy Property in Spain?

Is Spanish Residential Construction Showing Signs of Recovery?

Is There More To Spanish Wines Than Just Rioja?

It Is Possible Not To Pay Enough For A Property - According To The Tax Man!

It's a Buyer's Market

It's A Good Time To Start Selling Property in Spain

Licence of First Occupation and Completion

Mallorca Property - The Cost Of Buying Explained

More on Consumer Rights When Buying a Property

Most Commonly Asked Questions on Completions and Snagging Inspections

Must Have Common Spanish Phrases To Spice Up Your Spanish

New Regulations Protecting Spanish Property Buyers

No Money? No Problem!

Off Plan Consumer Rights - Sample Purchase Contract

Paramount Theme Park In Murcia - What You Need To Know

Prices Soften As Mortgage Approvals Fall In Lanzarote

Private Purchase Contract - Resale Property

Problems Found by Residential Surveyors in Spain

Property Management - Who Needs It?

Publicity - Part Of The Contract

Real Problems Buying Property in Spain

Result Of Building Standards Survey

Snagging Horror Stories

Snagging Trends & Analysis

So, you want to sell your off plan?

Spain Top Choice for Second Home Abroad

Spain, a Gone Conclusion

Spanish Property Market Stalls On Exchange Rate Strength

Spanish Property Valuations - Confused?

Stimulating The Spanish Property Market – Please Take Note Mr. Zapatero

Taking Better Pictures of Your Property

Taking The Developer To Court - Jan's Story

The art of a successful Snag

The Beginner's Guide to Snagging

The Death Of The Spanish Estate Agent

The Do's And Don'ts Of Buying A Mobile Home In Spain

The Euro - Looking Back and Looking Forward

The Licensing Process For Off Plan Properties In Spain

The Mystery of Spanish Property Online

The Other Side of the Coin

The Right Groups’ – The Costs of Buying in Spain

The Rights Group’s Guide to Buying a Property in Spain

The Spanish Property Crash – Was This What Was Really Happening?

Time to Complete

Time to Complete? - Part 2

Top 10 Reasons To Buy In Spain

Top 3 Budget Restaurants In Central Madrid

Try Before You Buy

Try Before You Buy - A Change In The Property Market

What to do Before and After You Complete on Your New Property

What You Need To Do If Your Spanish Developer Goes Bust?

What's In Store For Spanish Property In 2011?

Where Are All The Property Bargains In Spain?

Who Is REALLY Looking After Your Interest In Spain?

Why Buy On A Golf Resort?

Why Buy Property On A Resort

Why Choose Interest Only For Your Spanish Mortgage

Why You Need a Website To Market Your Rental Property

Click here for a list of all the articles from our magazine 

Spain insurance services

This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse you are agreeing to our use of cookies. More information here. x