Completion - Preparing for signing
Whichever type of property you decide to purchase, the Escritura (title deed) should only be signed once your lawyer has carried out all relevant checks to confirm ownership of the property, that’s its free of debts, etc.
Your lawyer will have agreed a payment method and structure with the vendor before completing at the notary. Bank-guaranteed cheques issued by a branch on the Costa del Sol are the preferred method, though it should also be possible to transfer funds to the notary's escrow account.
You will require certain necessary documents with you when you go to the signing including an N.I.E number, your lawyer will inform you of everything you will need to take to the Notary.
Though it is always best to attend the signing in person, a power of attorney can be granted to your lawyer to represent yourself. The easiest way to grant power of attorney is to sign one before a notary in Spain, though at greater expense one can also be arranged through the Spanish consulates in the UK or through a British notary. All involved parties, the vendors, buyers and mortgage lenders, have to be present represented by powers of attorney at the signing of the escritura.
When can you sign the title deeds?
When buying a resale property you or your representing party will sign the deeds before notary at the pre agreed date as discussed with the vendor. The time period between acceptance of the offer and signing of the title deeds varies. As a rule of thumb, it is between 1 and 3 months after signing a private contract.
When buying a newly built property from a developer you are not obliged to sign the escritura (title deeds) until the developer is able to produce the ‘Certificado de Final de Obras’ signed by the architect.
In Spain you cannot inscribe your title in property, unless a Spanish notary witnesses the deeds of sale. According to Spanish law a notary's signature is required to raise a private contract into public deeds that can be inscribed in the land register. Until signed by a notary, you are not the owner of the property according to property register.
In theory a private contract between buyer and seller is fully binding on both parties however, it is crucial to inscribe the title in the property register, as it is the only truly secure form of property ownership in Spain.
The notary will confirm the identity and other personal details of all buyers and sellers present or represented, and then read the deeds out loud. The title deeds will be in Spanish so you need to be sure the deeds are correct before you sign them by having a translator present or relying on your lawyer. Some notaries will refuse to sign the deeds unless it is proven that the buyer understands what he or she is signing.
If there are no objections to the content of the deeds the notary will commence the signing stage, followed by outstanding payments by the buyer prior to the keys being handed over.
After signing the deeds you will now be the proud owner of a property in Spain.
You will be given a Copia Simple (copy of the deeds) to take away after the signing. The Copia Simple allows you to set up utility contracts and pay taxes. A few weeks later your lawyer will be able to collect the original deeds signed by the notary (Copia Autorizada), which are needed to inscribe your title in the property register.