So often, when first time buyers discover their ideal holiday home they are full of excitement and eager to become the new owner. In their euphoria, they throw all caution to the wind instead of proceeding with care.
It is sometimes difficult to determine how far an estate agent should go in protecting the buyer against every possible pitfall that could be encountered in his purchase. A good agent for example, ensures that a developer owns the land upon which he is building and that he has permission. The agent’s knowledge of the developers reliability, past record and financial stability can be invaluable if put to good use. The agent can arrange a search at the land registry on behalf of the purchaser and can make sure that the purchase agreement is fair and that the purchaser fully understands it.
All this gives some security to the purchaser, but who ultimately takes the responsibility?
All prospective purchasers should ask themselves if they would purchase a property in the U.K. without the assistance of a solicitor. If the answer is “no”, then why should they purchase in a foreign country where the language and laws are different, without taking professional legal advice. Even if the agent has done a thorough job of checking everything and a solicitor simply confirms that, what price can you put on peace of mind?
When a prospective purchaser finds his ideal property, invariably he needs to pay a holding deposit to secure the property and the price. No reasonable vendor would disagree to this deposit being fully refundable should a solicitor find any legal reason for the sale not to proceed. On a resale property, this holding deposit can be held in the estate agent’s client account for additional security or could be held by the vendor’s or purchaser’s solicitor by mutual agreement.
If an estate agent advises you that you do not need the services of a lawyer, then this should act as a warning sign to ‘Beware’, and you should conduct your search for a property elsewhere.
When choosing a legal advisor you should use an ‘abogado’ (Spanish lawyer) who speaks fluent English. You should also ensure that he has an insured bonding for the work that he does, as this is not a legal requirement in Spain as it is in the U.K. for solicitors who do conveyancing work there.
For a number of years now, we have recommended the services of NCS Lawyers which is an independent English-speaking office, specialising in conveyancing and bonded work. We have negotiated a low rate of fees for our clients and NCS Lawyers have been a major contributing factor to 100% of our clients receiving clear and unencumbered freehold title deeds to the property that they purchased.
You are; of course, free to use any lawyer that you so wish and the British Consulate can give you a list of qualified lawyers who speak English.