Purchasing your plot

One piece of advice that applies to all property purchases in Spain is not to pay anything until you have had the legal checks completed. It can be so tempting once you have found the plot of your dreams to want to secure it as quickly as possible. Be warned, signing and paying a deposit is legally binding and it can be difficult to break the contract if problems with the plot emerge at a later date.

A solicitor will check the rules and regulations regarding the land itself and your PA will make all the other checks that need to be put in place.

Legal checks

It can be difficult to understand the legal jargon particularly for someone who isn’t used to the property laws in Spain. However, it is very important that you have trustworthy information about any restrictions there are related to the land you are considering buying. Legal restrictions surrounding your land will make a big difference to its price and the ways in which you can use it.

Checklist and pen

The checks that must be completed by a solicitor include:

  1. The type of land you are purchasing and whether it is permissible to build
  2. Any specific regulations that apply
  3. The type of ground it is
  4. Any urban laws that are applicable e.g. conservation area, rights of way
  5. The type of building that is allowed
  6. What the Deed specifies or doesn’t specify in relation to what can be built there
  7. Likelihood of getting an occupation licence
  8. Other local plans that might have an impact on your plot
  9. What services are available e.g. water, electricity, sewage
  10. Further studies specific to the land you’ve identified

Restrictions

Hunting rights can also make a difference to the status of land and can even mean that property cannot be built there. You also need to know how the area is ‘zoned’ as this can affect your property-building rights.

Your solicitor will check for covenants or other deed restrictions and watch out for rights of access that are held over some land. For example, it can be that a neighbour is allowed to travel across your land to reach their own property. This can have quite an impact on the ways in which you can use or develop your plot and you might also have responsibility for maintaining the access too.

Land inspection

A topographer will inspect the land as part of a topographical survey. They will need to consider its shape and size, and check that what has been communicated and recorded is what is actually there on the ground. Pay particular attention to the soil and whether that matches what you have been told from other sources.

professional Surveyor engineer making measure and checking on the field

The topographer is another professional who your Project Advisor will be responsible for engaging.

Catastral registry

Your solicitor should check the plano catastral or catastral registry to make sure that the drawings they have there coincide with what you, or your Project Advisor, have seen.

The solicitor should confirm whether any debts are being held against the land as if these do exist, they can hold up its purchase. They should also check with those responsible for housing in the area if your building plans are viable.The town hall should be able to give your solicitor guidance on housing policies, architecture, construction and land policies.

Service provision

Alongside the checks that your solicitor will make are those that are the responsibility of your Project Advisor. For example, if it is likely that you will need to have a septic system for the removal of waste then the town council’s health department should be able to help clarify what the specifications are for this.  They might also be able to help with questions about water quality too.

Your Project Advisor will help clarify what the position is in relation to other services too, such as electricity and gas. They might need to make arrangements to have these installed depending upon where your property is located.

You might also want to look into the feasibility of having the Internet. As this is becoming more and more essential for modern living you may have already covered this at an earlier stage in your search.

Planning certificate

Before buying land you should make sure that your solicitor obtains a Town Planning Certificate or Cédula Urbanística from the town hall. This will outline the amount of building area you have and what you are allowed to construct.

You will also be limited as to how much land you need to buy for building. For example, in the charming village of Pinoso (inland Alicante) you need to buy a minimum of 10,000 metres of rustic land in order to build a house of 200 metres. This is because you can only build on 2% of the total area of land you have purchased. However, this does not prevent you from building two stories; so doubling your living space.

Closeup shot of a woman signing a form. She's writing on a financial contract. Shallow depth of field with focus on tip of the pen.

In the case of urban land in Torrevieja. depends where the plot is located as to the amount of building that is allowed. For example,if you purchase 400 metres (in a specific area) you can build on up to 40% of it (160 metres of house). Underbuilds, swimming pools and terraces are not included in this calculation.

Different towns will have different rules too in relation to the height of buildings, colour and other externally visible features. Be clear about the maximum height restriction and any particular style requirements. These are particularly likely to apply in areas of historic interest.

Completing the purchase

You’ve decided that this is the plot for you and this has been confirmed by the advice of the specialists around you. You are now ready to purchase your plot.

The actual purchase of the land is very similar to the purchase of a completed property. There are three legal documents to be aware of:

  1. The Nota Simple: Land Registry
  2. The Catastral: Taxes
  3. The Escritura: TitleDeeds

The use of the land will normally be identified on both the Nota Simple and the Catastral document. However, it has to be confirmed by the town hall. It is important that the Nota Simple is checked to ensure that the plot of land is not shared with anyone else.

The Catastral document usually includes a plan which will help you check your plot borders. However, the borders you will find on there can be approximate and you have legal right to contest them.

The borders of your plot are described in writing on the Escritura and there will be reference to neighbours and natural features. You will have to sign a Contrato de Reserva and pay a deposit. It is very important to make sure that you do not sign anything until your solicitor has checked it.

You will then need to sign a new Title Deed in front of the notary and your name will be on this. The final step is for the sale to be registered in the Registro de la Propiedad.

At this point you have taken the very important step of buying your own plot of land in Spain. You may or may not already have in mind the kind of property you wish to build. Your Project Advisor will put you in contact with an architect and also the builder who will be the focus for the next stage of the development. Knowing you have taken all the correct steps in buying your land means that you can move forward in confidence.