Property Buying Guide – Understanding Property Terms
Understanding the terms you will hear when buying a property will put you one step ahead in the game. But please note: the definitions below are for guidance only. It cannot be over emphasised that anyone planning to buy a property in Spain must take independent legal advice in a language they understand fully from a lawyer experienced in Spanish property law.
Always deal with professionals (such as those that advertise in this magazine) and do not assume that because you may be dealing with a fellow countryman that their advice is cheaper or unbiased.
Here are some common terms you may hear:
Abogado: Solicitor. Amongst other things they will draw up a contract, provide help and guidance in legal matters and help complete the conveyancing.
Ayuntamiento: Town hall or municipality.
Bricolage: Do-it-yourself (sometimes called ‘hágalo-usted-mismo’).
Catastro: Land registry.
Certifado final de la dirección de la obra: In English – certificate of the completion of the building work. This is issued by the architect, and allows a declaration of a new building to be made at the notary’s office.
Community Charge: Becoming an owner of a property on an urbanisation will mean that you have to become a member of the community, which means fees are payable for the upkeep of shared amenities. You should be fully aware of all the charges before agreeing to anything.
Compra sobre plano: Purchase of a property before it has been built, based on blueprints (‘off plan’).
Contador: Meter for utilities.
Declaración de renta: Annual or quarterly tax declaration.
Deposito (de agua): Water storage tank.
El empadronamiento certificate: This document shows those who are registered as living at a particular address. It is issued by the town hall.
Enchufado: Literally, plugged in (as in an appliance), but can also mean ‘having friends in high places’.
La escritura: This is the title deed of the property. The copia simple (not to be confused with the nota simple) is a simple copy of the escritura, less the signatures, which is usually sufficient to prove ownership. It is available on the day of signing at the notary and recognised as suitable for most legal purposes. It is normal for the purchaser to hold a copy of this document. The escritra de compraventa is the document signed in the notary’s office. The escritura publica is the escritra de compraventa complete with many official stamps from the Registry Office, converting it to a public document.
Establo: Stable (for animals).
Estatutos: Statutes, rules or bye-laws governing the internal running of community development (or even a company).
Estructura: Structure (estructuralmente = structurally).
Extrarradio: Suburbs/surrounding areas.
Factura: Invoice/bill (don’t worry, you’ll soon learn this one).
Fiesta de inauguración: Housewarming party (don’t forget our invite!).
El gestor: These deal with the necessary paperwork between officialdom and citizens (which can be formidable). Their duties include helping with your application to become a resident, getting you and your family into the Spanish health system, payment of taxes, setting up a business and general advice on bureaucracy. If you are not fluent in Spanish, one that speaks English will reap dividends.
Honorarios: Fees paid to a lawyer, gestor, estate agent etc.
Licencia de primera ocupación: This is simply a licence to live in the property. It is issued by the local town hall (on production of the ‘certifado final de la dirección de la obra). This means you will be registered for taxes, but does allow you to get connected to electricity, water etc.
Luz: Literally, light, although often refers to electricity.
Metros cuadrados: Square metres.
Mudar(se): To move house.
Muro: Wall, surrounding a property (or even a city).
Muebles: Furnishings (Amueblado means ‘furnished’).
La nota simple: This document is issued by the Land Registry Office and is a copy of the property registration details. It shows proof that the person selling the land or is the registered owner and there are no debts.
El notario: These are qualified lawyers who have taken addition exams to become notaries. They are appointed by the government and are considered in high standing by Spaniards. They are necessary to legalise many official documents, such as wills, power of attorney, passport applications and the title deeds of properties. They can be seen as representing the state, but they do not guarantee or verify statements or check the contractual terms. They can offer legal advice.
Número Identificaión de Extranjero (N.I.E): Identification number for foreigners (although the word ‘extranjero’ means foreigner, it doesn’t carry the same slight slur). It serves as a fiscal identity number, perhaps similar to the UK’s National Insurance number. Most important financial dealings will require it, and it is issued at the National Police station (comisaria). Be warned: there can be long queues. You may be asked for your NIF (Número de Identificación Fiscal). Don’t worry, it’s the same thing.
Número de póliza: Insurance policy number.
Para entrar: Ready to be lived in, or moved into.
Pared: Internal wall (pared de carga = supporting wall).
Mapa de la casa: A three-dimensional line drawing, or an architect’s plan, which shows the dimensions of each room and floor in square metres.
Contrato de venta: This details that the plan of the house and its location are in order. It shows that the nota simple has been examine and is correct. It must be read and fully understood as it allows the issuing of a non-refundable deposit and signifies that the purchaser has the necessary funds to complete the deal.
Potencia: Electricity supply rating, measured in watts.
Pozo: Well (pozo negro = cesspit).
Prima: Insurance premium (also means female cousin).
Registro de la propiedad: This is usually the last document in the buying procedure. It is basically the escritura publica which has been stamped by the Registry Office with the words ‘registro de la propiedad’. You may now start enjoying you new home.