If you’re buying a property in Tenerife, you may have been told that using a lawyer isn’t a requirement…It’s a bit like the UK…you can use one if you want but you don’t actually have to.
To a point, I’d agree…and if you speak Spanish, know how the system works and where you’ve got to go to get the information and pay your fees and are well up on your Spanish property law, then maybe you can go ahead and do your own conveyancing but if you’re not…then I always suggest that a buyer should use a lawyer.
The answer to the question – Should I use a lawyer when buying a property in Tenerife? is quite simply – If you’re not up to date on Spanish law and you don’t speak good Spanish, then YES, you need a Spanish lawyer.
The next question I often get is…”Does it matter which lawyer I use?”…again, yes it does, because there are some less than professional lawyers throughout the country, ready to do the bare essentials of your paperwork and merely see the purchase over the line and still charge you a handsome sum for doing it.
In fact, some “lawyers” aren’t even…wait for it…lawyers.
Here’s an article I’ve written with contact details of our preferred lawyer and some noraties in the south of Tenerife.
What are the main things to think about when choosing a lawyer in Tenerife?
If you’re buying your property through an estate agent, you’ll need to use a lawyer, so to start with it’s probably good idea to ask your estate agent if they can recommend one.
OK, so the lawyer might be paying the estate agent a small commission for the referral but that’s quite standard in Tenerife and throughout Spain.
As an example, if you go on an organised bus trip and stop off for a coffee or a glass of wine and some cheese, almost certainly the bus driver is getting something for stopping off there.
At least start with your agent’s preferred lawyer and have a chat with them, don’t forget that the lawyer will want to be doing a good job for you, the buyer, so that the agent keeps on referring them, so they’re unlikely to be a bad lawyer.
If, once you’ve had a have a chat with the lawyer that your estate agent recommends and you’re not happy, then start looking elsewhere…maybe see if there’s a Facebook group in the area of Tenerife that you’re buying and see if anyone can recommend someone from there.
Or maybe just try Googling for a lawyer in the area that you’re buying in and see if you can find one with some good reviews.
One thing that I always recommend though is that you should do everything you can to meet with the lawyer face to face.
What will a lawyer do for me?
Pretty obviously your lawyer is going to do the property conveyancing paperwork….that’s the absolute minimum.
For that work, they’re going to be looking into making sure the property is actually legal, is legally owned by the people that are selling it, if it has any outstanding debts on it and also to generally make sure that the property that you’re buying is actually the property that you want to buy and that is being sold.
Generally speaking included in the lawyers fees should be the services of changing all of the utility bills into your name, advise the community administration company of your details as the new owners, speak with the townhall and council and let them know that you are the new owners so that the town hall generated bills can be put into your name, as well as maybe offering the service to get a telephone line or television satellite system installed as well.
Above all…ask for a price and make sure that what you actually need to be done is included in the price.
How much will a lawyer in Tenerife charge for property conveyancing?
Generally speaking a lawyer will charge anywhere between 1.400 to 2.000€ for their work.
When you’re asking about the cost of the lawyer just make sure that everything that you need doing for the transaction is included in the price they’re quoting.
Maybe more importantly is actually asking for a quotation with a breakdown.
I know they’re a lawyer and they’re reasonably important but you are the customer, you’re the one that’s paying, so I ask for a breakdown of the services that they’re saying they’re going to provide.
It’s fair to say that they will not know the exact cost for the full purchase transaction to the last cent because the notary bill will have to be estimated as will the land registry bill.
The thing is that notary will charge a certain amount per page of the title deed, which is actually unknown until the signing at the notary and also the land registry don’t charge a set amount either but your lawyer should be able to give you a good enough estimate before you go to notary so that you can send enough funds for completion.
You’ll be asked to transfer some money over to the lawyer’s account so that they can carry out the work and, a I mentioned above, this will include the approximate cost for the notary and the land registry, that’s why you should ask for a breakdown of the costs because at the end of the transaction you should be able to see where your money’s been spent and how much change you should be getting back from the money you initially sent over for their work and the subsequent completion.
Do I need a lawyer if I’m getting a mortgage on a property in Tenerife?
In all honesty, unless you’re able to do this yourself because you know the law and how to speak Spanish, there’s only one reason for you not to use a Spanish lawyer to do the property purchase transaction and that’s if you’re having a mortgage.
The bank will have just as much interest in getting this right as you will.
If you don’t pay your mortgage, they’ll repossess the property and they certainly don’t want to end up with a property on their books that’s illegally built or is not owned by the people selling it.
The bank that you choose to use for your mortgage will have their own legal department and so they’ll be using them to check this property out…oh, you’ll be paying for it, don’t worry about that, but it’ll save you having to choose a lawyer for yourself.
If you’re investing in a property in Tenerife and you’re not a Spanish speaker and don’t know the law, then it’s highly advisable to use a fully qualified Spanish lawyer to do the property paperwork for you.
They should have been through university and should also have some form of liability insurance to protect you if things go wrong after they’ve done their work.
If you’re at all concerned about whether or not they’re a genuine lawyer, none of them should be upset about letting you have their professional registration number for you to check them out and prove to yourself that they’re the real deal.