Buying Spanish Property Safely - A Simple Rule

by Neil Ebsworth - Date: 2007-04-18 - Word Count: 464 Share This!

When you decide to buy a place in the Spanish sun, be it for a holiday home, investment, or a place to retire, there are several ways you can ensure that the process is safe.

The first thing to recognize is that you are entering an unregulated industry. The Spanish property market used to be regulated by the A.P.I. (Agente de la Propiedad Inmobiliaria), a professional body that oversaw estate agents, set exams etc.

Following a legal battle some years ago with a rival organization, (GIPE) who challenged the API's monopoly in regulating the industry, the market became fully de-regulated leaving the door open for any-one to set up in business and call themselves an Estate Agent or Realtor.

So where does this leave a prospective purchaser looking to buy property in Spain? Well the truth of the matter is that the property market in Spain is in as good a shape, (or Bad, depending on your experience), as any other unregulated property market, (The UK for example). There are many good professional providers of real estate services, but as usual, the industry is tainted by the few bad apples. In Spain there are approximately 200,000 'firms' providing real estate services. So how do you choose the good from the 'not so good'?

The two organizations mentioned earlier are a good indicator that your realtor will know what he is doing. Both organizations require some form of education for membership and have a self- regulating Code of Practice. A third organization recently established,(May 2006) is also trying to 'raise the bar' of professional standards.

Its Code of Practice, mirrors that of the NAEA, the UK industry's Association. AMLA promotes the need for training and education within the industry and the need to address the 'Conflict of Interest' within Real Estate transactions, which is usually the source of mal-practice.

These three professional bodies in the Spanish Property market give some indication of safety when choosing an agent to act for you. In reality though, an unregulated market means, just that, and you should take further action to ensure that your transaction proceeds smoothly.

In conclusion, whoever you choose to represent you, when buying a property in Spain. Make sure that you ALSO retain an independent legal representative to answer any questions you may have and who is legally responsible, (and liable) to you.

So often it is when independent legal advice is not sought that problems occur. It is the normal practice in the UK and around the world to instruct a laywer when purchasing a property. However, in Spain, it is possible to enter into a contract to purchase property without the need to consult a laywer. Whether it is the 'heat of the moment' or just the heat of the Spanish sun! This is something that should NEVER be done.

Related Tags: costa blanca property, spanish property, costa del sol property

Neil Ebsworth is co-founder of, a Costa Blanca property MLSportal for the Real Estate industry in Spain.

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