One of the first steps when starting your new life in Spain is buying your house. And that is no small thing. It involves an important amount of money. But, how much exactly? Is the agreed price with the seller the total amount you’ll end up paying? (Hint: it is not). In this article we will solve that doubt and exactly detail all the taxes and expenses when buying a house in Spain as an expat/foreigner.
We are going to cover:
- The total amount you will really pay for a house in Spain
- Taxes when buying a property from a developer
- Taxes when buying a second-hand property (property transfer tax)
- Extra expenses
But before diving into the exact taxes and expenses to pay, it may be useful to gather a bit of background first. So, in order to fully understand why you need to pay each price and when, knowing the exact real estate process is advisable. Here you can find the step by step process of buying a property in Spain.
¿WHICH IS THE REAL PRICE OF A PROPERTY IN SPAIN?
The process is simple. You want to acquire a property in Spain, so you start searching on any of the online platforms out there. Or maybe you rely on an estate agent that helps you out.
No matter the situation, you finally find the house that you like. Perfect location and the size you were looking for. And a charming atmosphere that will really make you feel at home.
And here it comes the real pain: the price.
Nevertheless, the price the estate agent tells you or the price you found online is ok. A bit higher than expected, but still within your range of possibilities.
So you finally have found it. That must be your new home. And you are now thrilled to move forward with the process and make it your residence.
But wait a second. Is that price you found online the real price of the property?
Aren’t you going to end up paying more? And, if the answer is yes, how much more?
Well, if we told you this story is because there is more.
As a rule of thumb, you can expect to spend an extra 10 to 15% on the agreed purchasing price in regards to taxes and extra expenses.
And, as we are not talking about buying a mobile phone, 10% on the price of a property can be a really high outlay of money.
Important note: the exact extra amount will depend on the Autonomous Community in which the house is located. So bear in mind that the final amount can be higher than 15%.
THE KEY WHEN BUYING A PROPERTY: PLAN IN ADVANCED
Knowing that we will end up paying much more only indicates one thing. It is crucial to plan in advanced during the real estate procedure.
On many occasions, reservation contracts are non-refundable. This means that all the money you put before paying the final amount would be lost if you finally decide not to buy. The real estate agent or the seller will have the total right to get that money from you.
So make sure to fully understand the actual total amount you will end up paying for your chosen house. And compare using that number as a reference (not the one you see online!).
In that sense, it will be really useful to clearly understand the list of taxes and expenses you will be facing as a foreigner.
National citizens and foreigners will pay exactly the same. Same taxes, expenses, and exact rates are applied for both groups. It will be on the sale that differences arise between residents and non-residents.
Let’s dive deep into it.
We need to differientate between taxes paid for a brand new property and those paid for a re-sell.
TAXES WHEN BUYING A PRIMARY REAL ESTATE (PROPERTY/HOUSE FROM A DEVELOPER)
When purchasing new housing, you will be facing the following taxes:
VAT (VALUE ADDED TAX OR “IVA”)
The first tax to consider is VAT (called IVA in Spanish).
If we are talking about a completely new house, VAT will be equal to 10% of the price (21% if commercial).
As opposed to many other taxes and expenses we will see in a moment, the VAT tax rate is equal within the whole Spanish territory.
This tax will be paid when signing the deed of sale. Then, the seller will transfer it to the tax authorities (Agencia Tributaria).
STAMP DUTY OR DOCUMENTED LEGAL ACTS (AJD)
The stamp duty (called “actos jurídicos documentados” in Spanish), is another tax for new properties, and it refers to the registration process.
It completely depends on the region in which the house is located, but it ranges from 0.5% to 2%.
In Barcelona, for example, is 1.5%.
Nevertheless, you can enjoy several tax rate reductions provided that you are inside one of the following two groups:
- You are younger than 35 years old and the house you are acquiring will cost less than 130.000€
- You have any disability and the property costs up to 180.000€
TAXES WHEN BUYING A SECOND-HAND HOUSE (RE-SALE)
But what happens if you are buying the property to the past owner (hence the house has already been sold before)? Then you must consider:
PROPERTY TRANSFER TAX (ITP)
The property transfer tax is a progressive tax that depends on the price of the property. Again, it varies according to each Autonomous Community in Spain, but as a general rule:
- Up to 8% for a price of 400.000€
- 9% when the price of the property goes from 400.000€ to 700.000€
- 10% from 700.000€ and above
Nevertheless, in some regions like in Valencia, you will face a flat rate of 10%.
There is one situation in which you can avoid paying the property transfer tax when purchasing a property. And that happens when both the buyer and the seller are subject to paying VAT. Apart from that, you will need to pay the total amount.
This tax is paid after signing the public deed (the total amount). This is important to know as all the deposits that are paid before the end of the sale won’t include the corresponding prorated ITP percentage. Everything is paid at the end.
Finally, if you are paying property tax you won’t be paying extra stamp duty (AJD). That is because property transfer tax contains the AJD tax within.
ADDITIONAL EXPENSES WHEN BUYING A PROPERTY IN SPAIN
Now that we have the tax part laid out, let’s move to all the extra expenses you may be facing when acquiring your new house in the Spanish territory. The list that follows is common for each of the two cases we have analyzed before: properties from developers and second-hand houses.
Not all of them may be applicable to your case, but you can use it as a checklist in order to make sure you don’t miss anything:
Going and using the notary’s services will be required during this legal process.
Because the notary is required to draw up the public deed. And that, for sure, will have a cost.
The price you will end up paying to the notary depends on many factors, such as:
- The agreed price of the property
- If there is any mortgage
- The number of pages/sections the contract has
- How many parts interfere on the transaction
- The notary itself, as some offer lower rates than others
Nevertheless, we want you to have a clear image. So expect to spend from 300 to 1.000€ there (even though the usual thing would be in the middle).
REGISTRATION COSTS: LAND REGISTRY FEES
Once you finally pay for the property, you will need to register it on the Property Register.
The exact amount will depend on the exact region (again), but usually land registry fees are from 0,1% to 2% of the purchasing price that is declared on the deed. Expect to pay 500€ for this.
This also refers to the simple note of registration; which is required to check the status of the property. It will be critical in order to gather relevant data about the property and about the previous owner. Why? Because it is the opportunity to detect if the property has hidden vices.
Essential if you want to avoid future problems (e.g. paying more).
CHANGE OF UTILITIES
One of the lasts steps in the process will be transferring the ownership of the utilities (gas, water, electricity, etc.) from the previous owner to you.
Our real estate services for expats include this part (as also the land registry fees) inside the same package, which makes it much more affordable and cheap for you.
Because yes, you should have a lawyer next to you throughout the entire process.
Especially if you are a foreigner and your Spanish is not that good, having someone who knows the developer or that can talk and negotiate with the buyer will be really useful.
Besides, you may get lost with all the legal steps and documents to be drafted.
And there is where the figure of the real estate lawyer appears.
The legal expenses associated with them can drastically change depending on the specific firm. They can charge you a fixed price or a percentage that can go from 0.5 to 1.5% of the purchasing price (plus VAT).
Again, we fully recommend you to hire a lawyer for buying a property. They will draft all the contracts, carry out the due diligence, and gather all the required documents for you.
Even though nowadays, with the internet, having a real estate agent is no longer necessary, many individuals rely on them.
Usually, their commission (ranges from 2 to 15% in Spain) is paid by the seller. But you can still take it as a cost for you (buyer) if you agree otherwise.
MORTGAGE COSTS AND BANK CHARGES
It is highly probable that you will use a mortgage or loan to acquire your new house.
And that has several associated expenses worth also considering and adding to the purchasing price.
You will be facing an initial property valuation that is usually 500€.
Then, the specific mortgage costs (interest rate) that you agree with the bank.
TRANSFERRING MONEY OVERSEAS TO REALIZE THE PAYMENT
This is something that is easily forgotten. But still important: the commission you will pay to transfer the money from your origin country to Spain in order to realize the payment.
Of course, the exact percentage will vary depending on the option/service provider you choose.
NIE NUMBER COSTS
We included this section here; but in fact, this would go at the beginning.
Getting your NIE number is the first step to buy a property in Spain as an expat. It is the basic identification number for foreigners and you need to pay and sign all the related contracts.
Hence, there will be some costs associated with obtaining this number.
DO YOU NEED SOME HELP?
Just to let you know, if you need some legal help with the whole property purchasing process, we are here for you.
We will manage each step, drafting al the contracts, negotiating with the seller, making sure nothing goes against you.
So if you would like to avoid headaches… Talk to one of our specialized lawyers!