Larraín Nesbitt Lawyers is a Marbella-based independent law firm specialized in property conveyancing, taxation, litigation, probate and succession. Expert native English-speaking lawyers and economists blend legal and practical advice providing tailored assistance on your matter. Our range of services cover the greater Marbella area, Sotogrande and Costa del Sol.

The firm focuses advising foreign investors on acquiring residential property in Spain both from a legal and fiscal point of view. Our no-nonsense approach to business coupled with our commitment to clients ensures easy-going transactions. We pride ourselves in putting our clients’ interests at the forefront of everything we do.

Larraín Nesbitt Lawyers, your legal partner in Spain.

Last Article:

10 easy steps to buy property in Spain

Raymundo Larraín Nesbitt, May, 30. 2024

Raymundo Larrain gives a sweeping overview on how to buy property in Spain safely.

Marbella-based Larraín Nesbitt Abogados (LNA) has over 21 years of experience at your service. We offer a wide range of 50 legal and corporate services. Our team of native English-speaking lawyers and economists have a long track record successfully assisting expats all over Spain.

You can review here our client’s testimonials.

Article copyrighted © 2024. Plagiarism will be criminally prosecuted


By Raymundo Larraín Nesbitt
Director of Larraín Nesbitt Abogados
8th of June 2024


The following article aims to be a basic checklist covering what I reckon are the ten basic points, nothing more.

I have greatly abridged it, not going into detail on whether you are buying resale or a new build property, or between commercial, urban, or rural land.

If you fancy a more in-depth and fleshed out guide on how to buy property in Spain safely, I refer you to our detailed Homebuyer’s Guide in Spain.

Ten easy steps to buy property in Spain


1. Hire a lawyer

If you are a non-resident in Spain (particularly a foreigner), you are strongly advised to instruct a lawyer to guide you through the procedure. Your appointed lawyer will run a due diligence on the property ensuring you acquire a clean title with no outstanding debts or taxes.

Your lawyer requires a Power of Attorney. A PoA enables a lawyer to act on the buyer’s behalf:


Beware of anyone telling you that hiring a lawyer is unnecessary, you can be sure they have vested interests of their own.

2. Apply for a NIE number

A NIE number is a tax identification number for foreigners which identifies you before the Spanish Tax Office and allows you to file and pay taxes in Spain. A NIE number is an essential admin document that everyone in Spain will be asking for: banks, schools, town halls, healthcare etc. It’s a must-have; the sooner you get it, the better. We can get you a NIE in 2 weeks.

3. Open a bank account

Opening a bank account in Spain is required on buying property (or when you apply for a visa). Utility companies and Spanish health providers only accept Spanish accounts to domicile payments. You will be required to attend the bank in person to open an account.

4. Do you need a visa?

If you are an EU national, as a general rule, you do not need a visa to stay in Spain. However, if you plan to spend more than 90 consecutive days in Spain, you must apply for a residency permit. This is fast-tracked for all EU nationals, attained by us in under one month.

If you are a non-EU national, as a general rule, you are required to attain a visa to remain in Spain for more than 90 consecutive days. Some visas must be applied for from your home country (before travelling to Spain), yet others can be applied for from Spain. You can read our comprehensive Spanish visa overview for more details.

5. Reservation contract

Once you’ve decided on a property, you need to commit.

Typically, an estate agent listing the property will ask you to pay €3,000 (or €6,000 for more expensive properties). This is normal, don’t worry. Unlike in other countries, such as in the United Kingdom, there is no 14-day cooling-off period. Reservation deposits are non-refundable (unless expressly agreed and worded otherwise in the contract).

A reservation contract is a simple one-page document whereby the seller reserves a property for you over the next 30 days in exchange for a deposit. If you go ahead and complete, the deposit will be part of the sales price. If you decide to pull out, you lose the deposit.

6. Hire a surveyor

We strongly advise buyers to hire a property surveyor, particularly on buying rural property or on buying off-plan property. Surveyors draft a comprehensive report with a detailed snagging list. This report is very useful and can be used to detect build flaws and re-negotiate the sales price. We advise surveyors to be registered with RICS, which works to high professional standards.

7. Exchanges - signing an arras contract

Signing an arras contract requires you to pay 10% of the asking price. This amount is non-refundable once signed and paid.

If the buyer pulls out of the contract – for whatever reason – they lose the 10%.

If a seller pulls out of the contract – for whatever reason – they pay 20% of the asking price (as a penalty).  

Signing an arras contract is a (very) serious matter. Under no circumstances should a buyer sign it without a lawyer. Depending on how they are worded, some of these contracts actually force buyers to pay the full property price! Even if they do not want to. You can be taken to court over this contract.

8. Completion

Normally, 30 to 45 days after signing an arras contract, depending on whether the buyer requires a mortgage loan or not, the parties need to attend a notary chosen by the buyer to sign a Title deed (escritura, in Spanish) witnessed by a notary public. The buyer will now pay the balance of the asking price and possession will be his (keys hand over).

9. Property registration

After you sign at a notary, you need to pay the associated Property Transfer Tax. The Title deed must then be lodged at a land registry by your lawyer. This usually takes 1 to 2 months, depending on how busy the registrar is at the time.

It is important to understand that if a property is not registered under a buyer’s name, he does not legally own the property, even if he signed a Title deed.

The main reason is because Spain follows a two-tier system of transfer of ownership (notary and land registry). For peace of mind, ownership of a property can be verified in under 24 hours on commanding a nota simple service from us. A nota simple is a land registry report.

10. Post-completion

Post-completion, a buyer still has to deal with a long to-do list.

Your lawyer can (greatly) assist you in cutting through all the below red tape saving you money, time, and aggravation:

  • Utilities: Your lawyer can connect you to the mains (water & electricity). Also, to internet, gas, and landline. We offer this utility connection service.
  • Taxes: on owning a property in Spain you will be required to pay for a series of taxes, both local and national. As local taxes, you have to pay IBI and garbage collection tax. As a national tax, non-resident property owners need to pay once a year what is known as imputed rental income tax (even if you do not rent out the property, it’s a notional income tax). Failure to pay some of these taxes will lead to embargoes (legal charges placed against your property) which may result in your home being impounded and sold off in a public auction. We offer this tax service.
  • Padron: If you plan to live in Spain, you must enrol in the town hall census (padron). This is known as empadronarse or empadronamiento in Spanish. This is required to access public healthcare, vote on local elections, apply for a mortgage loan, schools, etc. We offer this padron service.
  • Community of Owners or EUC: If you buy a property within an urbanizacion, or development, you will need to join the community and pay your fees. These are normally paid quarterly. Non-payment may lead to the community suing you.
  • Making a Spanish will. On owning property in Spain, it is strongly advised you make a Spanish will. A Spanish will safes your beneficiary's time, money, and aggravation at a time of bereavement. A Spanish will does not preclude one made in your home country, it only affects your Spanish estate. Ideally, foreigners should make two wills; one in their home country and one in Spain disposing of their Spanish estate. We offer this will-writing service.



If you plan to buy property in Spain, and are a non-resident, contact us to assist you in the legal procedure.

At LNA we make it all easy, so you just have to sit back and relax. We take care of everything removing all the associated stress.

Not to mention our fees are 100% tax-deductible on selling!

Contact us at LNA (calling either our UK or Spain landline) and one of our friendly staff will chat with you.

Related services available from LNA:


At Larrain Nesbitt Abogados (LNA) we have over 21 years’ experience specializing in immigration & residency visas. We also assist clients buying, selling, or renting properties in Spain. You can contact us by e-mail at, by telephone at our UK line (+44) 0754 3838 218 or Spanish line (+34) 952 19 22 88, or by completing our contact form.

Please note the information provided in this article is of general interest only and is not to be construed or intended as substitute for professional legal advice. This article may be posted freely in websites or other social media so long as the author is duly credited. Plagiarizing, whether in whole or in part, this article without crediting the author may result in criminal prosecution. Ní neart go cur le chéile. VOV.

Larraín Nesbitt Abogados, small on fees, BIG on service.
2024 © Raymundo Larraín Nesbitt. All Rights Reserved.


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Last Blog Entry:

10 common mistakes on renting property in Spain

Raymundo Larraín Nesbitt, June, 4. 2024

Marbella-based Larraín Nesbitt Lawyers has over 21 years' taxation & conveyancing experience at your service. We offer a wide range of over 50 legal and corporate services. Our team of native English-speaking lawyers and economists have a long track record successfully assisting expats all over Spain. You can review here our client’s testimonials.

Copyrighted © 2024. Plagiarism will be criminally prosecuted.


Tenant’s top five

  1. A verbal contract is better than a written one. No, not really. Although verbal contracts in Spain are equally valid to written ones, the problem lies when there is a disagreement. It is very difficult to prove what was actually agreed in a verbal contract i.e. landlord pays for the utilities. It is in the best interests of both tenant and landlord that rental agreements are always put in writing. Tenants have the right to demand a verbal contract is put in writing by their landlord.
  2. Offsetting the security deposit against any unpaid rental. This is unlawful. The security deposit serves its own legal purpose and at no time can be used to compensate rental shortfalls.
  3. I can always leave the property giving 30 days’ notice. Yes and no. Yes, but depending on the agreed penalties, you may be held liable to pay a penalty for leaving ahead of time. If you leave before the first six months are up, you owe the landlord the full six months by law.
  4. Deducting damages from the rent. You simply can’t do this.
  5. The property is being sold and I’m being asked to leave. Actually, following new laws from 2019, you don’t have to. Long term tenants are protected by law and may not be removed from a property even if sold on. However, a tenant is free to reach an agreement with the buyer (or landlord) to leave ahead in exchange of a suitable ‘compensation.’

Landlord’s top five

  1. Shutting off the utilities. Landlords often feel the impulse to do this on their tenant slipping into arrears or becoming a non-paying tenant. You should know that your tenant can report you to the police. Doing this may be labelled as either coercion or harassment, or both. Your tenant can prosecute you criminally on doing this and you may find yourself being remanded in custody. So, maybe you ought to think twice before walking down this path. Even if the utilities are under a landlord’s name and he discontinues them, he can still be prosecuted, as it’s legally equated to a physical utility’s shutoff.
  2. Changing the locks. Same as above, it may be regarded as either coercion or harassment, or both. Your tenant may prosecute you criminally.
  3. Taking justice into your own hands. Landlords may feel tempted to take justice into their own hands and break-in their own property assisted by some square-jawed tattooed acquaintance as ‘backup.’ This is seldom a good idea and may land you and your ‘friends’ in a Spanish jail for unlawful entry (trespassing). The only – legal – way to evict a non-paying tenant is to hire a lawyer and initiate a formal tenant eviction procedure through the Spanish law courts.
  4. Entering the property under the guise of a ‘routine check’. Although it may be highly tempting to take a quick peak from time to time, especially after a noisy summer party that’s kept the whole neighbourhood up all night, it is seldom a bright idea. When a landlord lets a property, he loses possession. Access to the property can only be authorized by a tenant, in writing, regardless if they are up to date or not with the rental.
  5. Eleven-month contracts are short-term and watertight. I’m afraid not. This single blunder is responsible of many legal problems at a later date. What qualifies a rent as either short or long-term is not the fact that it is labelled one way or the other, or even by its duration. What really matters is if the tenant and his family are making use of the property as their permanent place of abode. If this is the case, it’s a long-term contract subject to the protection of Spain’s Tenancy Act.


Available services from LNA:


At Larrain Nesbitt Abogados (LNA) we have over 21 years’ experience assisting clients buying, selling, or renting properties. We can also offer you a competitively priced accounting service to file your landlord taxes every tax quarter nationwide. We are also specialized in immigration & residency visas. You can contact us by e-mail at, by telephone on our UK line (+44) 0754 3838 218, or Spanish line  (+34) 952 19 22 88, or by completing our contact form to book an appointment.

Larraín Nesbitt Abogados, small on fees, BIG on service.
2024 © Raymundo Larraín Nesbitt. All Rights Reserved.


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Last Press Entry:

Moving to Spain? Spanish visa overview

MSN, May, 21. 2024

Microsoft Start is a mobile app that features news headlines and articles that MSN editors have chosen. The app includes sections for top stories, regional events, international events, politics, money, technology, entertainment, opinion, sports, and crime, along with other miscellaneous stories.

MSN kindly published our article:  Moving to Spain? Spanish visa overview


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