With summer slowly and reluctantly slipping into Autumn. Barcelona is counting the success of another record-breaking tourist season. Figures show an increase in all sectors on the previous year with record numbers visiting Catalonia, and airport numbers over taking the capital Madrid in June, July and August.

Couple this with the growing exposure of optimism from the UK broadsheets regarding attractive property investment with a 30% price reduction, and Catalonia’s capital of cool will definitely have some of those tourists thinking.

Airport-Barcelona-1So if you are one of these people who recently fell in love with this Mediterranean city (or even a long term resident who has finally decided to take the plunge). Studio P10 thought we’d shed some light on the Barcelona property buying process, uncover some of the pitfalls and maybe dispel some of the myths along the way.

With a wide choice of properties, from mountain retreats, urban pads to beach side dwellings. Barcelona has the full range to offer, all for a knock down price. It’s no wonder, therefore, that foreign demand is now surging, with ‘Spanish Property Insight’ reporting a 29pc rise in foreign purchase in Spain over the last 12 months and a staggering 49pc rise in the last quarter alone.

Location, location, location. It’s a well known phrase but one that holds weight in a compact city such as Barcelona, where crossing a street can lead you over the invisible line into the next barrio. Research therefore is the key, and there’s no better way than living and breathing the city like a local. Walking the streets and experiencing day to day life, chatting to the locals and learning secrets. Uncovering hidden gems of knowledge about areas such as the Eixample. Avoid apartments on the ‘one way streets’ going up hill. The traffic noise is considerably higher, as the motos strain their engines to climb the inclination. (Trust me, at 6am you will be thankful!) Or some parts of Poble Sec, which has a series of underground tunnels built in the civil war that has effected the foundations of some buildings.

The growing number of apartment rental sites has made it even easier to rent short-term apartments, for days and weeks. Meaning that prospective purchasers can experience the area or street of interest before they make a purchase.

In Barcelona there are a number of reputable international estate agents who will of course cater for your needs. These tend to specialise in higher end properties, which are priced accordingly. From personal experience the local agents tend to be where the properties with potential are most found. These may require more renovation but the positive aspect being, you end up with a property personalised for you, at an equivalent price or less.

Barcelona Eixample

Once you have pinned down an area, the wonders of the internet has now made it fantastically easy to research apartments and prices. Organising viewings and discussing the details. We’d advise to see any property of real interest at least three times on separate times, days, and occasions.

In all property purchase price negotiation is obviously the key, but more so here in Spain, as the taxes and purchasing costs are high here. The ‘impuesto de transmisiones patrimoniales’ or stamp duty has recently risen to 10% of purchase price therefore any price reduction has a beneficial knock on effect.

In the UK market it is normal to have a survey but rare here. If you are raising finance from a bank then they will investigate the property themselves. Therefore if you have any doubt about the property it’s advisable to view with a builder, architect or structural architect.

We always go by the rule that the precautions you would take in your home country, should be the same (if not more) when buying abroad. Therefore once you are ready to make an offer an abogado should be employed. They can offer an invaluable service. Investigating ownership, debts on the property, the building itself, any expected future costs for the building, such as a lift or renovation to a roof or façade.

Business man hand signing on document at desk

A good abogado will go into the finer details, speaking to the president of the building or administrator to look at minutes of past meetings with the neighbours, that may uncover hidden problems or surprises.

They can also assist in the process of gaining an NIE number. This is a foreigner’s identity number which is required to buy property and open a bank account in Spain. This can be done in person at a local branch of the national police or by using a legal representative at a cost of between 50 – 110 euro.

The abogado’s main roles will consist of –

  • Confirming the purchase price between both parties
  • Investigating the title deeds to ascertain who the owners actually are
  • Checking the Land Registry
  • Checking there is no mortgage debt on the property
  • Investigating tax payments and utility bill payments are up to date
  • Checking the property has a habitable certificate or a first occupancy certificate (if the property is a new build).
  • Checking the energy efficiency certificate of the property
  • Investigating there are no outstanding legal issues involving the property

In part 2 of our ‘Barcelona Property Buying’ blog we’ll delve more into the legal process. Looking into the contracts required, the deposits / amounts to be paid and the purchase fees which are payable. We’ll also give some advice about estate agent tricks, informing you who to trust and who to be wary of!

What are your thoughts on buying property in Barcelona, have your say by leaving a comment.

*Thanks to Clara Nubiola for the Barcelona Illustration*