Property situation in Spain: can the seller effectively sell?

Part of the legal controls on a property in Spain consists of checking the title deeds. Can the seller effectively sell to you? In this post, you will find more information on when the seller cannot just validly sell.

The seller is not yet a registered owner

In order to transfer ownership, the seller must be a registered owner. This can be verified by requesting the note simple. This document is an extract from the registration office/ownership register and contains a summary of the ownership situation. As long as the seller is not a registered owner, you cannot take over pure title.

Read more about the difference between the land registry and the registry office.

Why would the seller not be a registered owner?

The most common cause is in cases of inheritance. For example, the sellers have inherited the property, but the inheritance proceedings are still ongoing. The sellers must then first settle the inheritance procedure and pay the applicable Spanish inheritance tax. Only once the sellers register the Spanish estate deed can you validly take over the title.

Even in cases where there are multiple owners involved, it may not be possible to sell just like that. For example, consider a divorce where one partner wants to sell, but the other blocks the sale. Or the court may impose a minimum sale price in a dispute between several owners and the transaction is subject to his approval.

Another possibility is that the seller obtained his title via private title. This means that he bought via an ordinary purchase agreement instead of with a notarial deed. Such situation occasionally occurs in the Spanish interior.

Finally, there may be, for example, enforcement proceedings under way because of outstanding debts, with a judicial public sale.

Right of pre-sale

It is also possible that a right of pre-sale rests on the property. The beneficiary of a pre-sale right has the option to take over the property at the price and conditions you negotiated. The seller is obliged to give notice of these conditions first, before making a final commitment with you. Typically, there is a right of sale in favour of the government for bank-owned properties and former social housing.

Find more information on bank seizures here.

What if there are debts on the property?

Unpaid debts that "stick" to the property can, in principle, be deducted from the purchase price. It is important to identify the debts in advance so that you can agree in the purchase agreement how the debts will be paid, as well as the costs to settle them.

Here you will find more information on how to buy a property in Spain debt-free.

Do you have any questions about buying property in Spain? Then feel free to contact us or request a consultation.

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