Buying a property in Spain - Spanish property law
Obviously, it should go without saying, when buying a property DO NOT SIGN ANYTHING BEFORE YOU FIRST CHECK IT WITH A LAWYER. So many people have been fleeced by sharks acting as 'estate agents' who have demanded a deposit on a property that either was never for sale in the first place or has so many debts outstanding on it to make it worthless. In Spain all credit is guaranteed against property so if the debt is not paid, a charge is put against the property not the owner. In other words, the owner can disappear with your money and leave all the debts waiting to be settled by the you as the new owner of the property. Ask to see a copy of the 'nota simple', this will tell you if there any large debts lodged against the property as well as the legal size of the dwelling if any illegal extensions have been made to it. It's also a good idea to visit the local town hall (ayuntamiento) to ask if there are any taxes outstanding on the property.
Almost half of all business in Spain is conducted 'under the table' so don't be surprised to find that the amount you are paying for a property is not the amount written in the escritura (title deeds). This is nothing to be concerned about as it is done to save you and the seller significant tax bills. Duty on property sales currently stands at 7% which can add a large chunk to your investment, so it makes sense to declare a smaller amount on all the legal paperwork. Everyone does it and the authorities turn a blind eye as they would rather have some money than none at all if the whole deal were done in cash.
In any case, you need to budget for 10% above the property price to cover you for taxes, legal fees and paperwork.