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Selling Guide

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Guide to Selling a Property in Spain

A. Prepare your Property

Please remember that buyers may not have the vision to see how good a property is, or how it can be improved, if the place looks a mess, is dirty, unkempt, badly decorated, has bad smells or is superficially in bad condition.
If you are looking to woo and win potential buyers, remember that it is the little things that make all the difference.
And first impressions are very important.
Always remember that the buyers have a choice; there will be other properties that they will look at and make comparisons. Ensure that yours has more appeal than your competition.
If you want to give yourselves the best chance of selling quickly, please pay attention to the points below.

Well-presented home: with ‘kerb appeal’
  • Improve Kerb Appeal
    • When potential buyers drive up to your property it is crucial to create a good first impression for them. If the exterior appearance is poor, they may not even stay to see the interior, no matter how good it may be.
    • Therefore, make sure your home’s exterior, gardens, terraces and driveway are all immaculate. The outside of the building needs to be in good condition.
    • If you have a pool, the water needs to sparkle.
Terraces, gardens and pool ready for a viewing
  • The Entrance
    • Remember that most buyers will have an emotional reaction to your home within 15 seconds of entering it, so what they experience at the entrance is critical.
    • Buy a new ‘Welcome’ mat.Let buyers know they are invited into your home.
    • You want your entrance areas outside and inside to be clean, de-cluttered and inviting. If you have 10 coats hanging on a peg, it gives people the impression that you don’t have a cloakroom and that there is insufficient storage space.
  • Organise Wardrobes and Storage Areas
    • Messy wardrobes give the appearance that your home doesn’t have enough storage space.
  • Clean & Shine
    • Make sure walls, floors, windows, light switches and everything else are spotless.
  • Bright & Airy
    • When there is a viewing, open all shutters, switch on the lights and ensure every room smells fresh.
  • Re-paint
    • Only do this if it is necessary, but it the best way to make the house look clean and fresh.
    • You may like your lime green bedroom and pink dining room, but most people will not. Paint with fairly neutral colours, preferably, white and off-whites.
  • Declutter & Depersonalise
    • There is nothing more annoying to a viewer than having too much furniture in your home; it can make a spacious room look cramped.
    • Don’t have toys and other belongings all over the place; put them away.
    • We are not asking you to remove all personal items and photographs, but people don’t want to see every inch covered with pictures of you and your family. They need to see this as their potential home, not as your home.
  • Kitchens & Bathrooms
    • Two very important areas are kitchens and bathrooms.
    • Clear away everything on the counter tops and put into cupboards. You don’t need to show the buyers your taste in tea and coffee or which hair shampoo you use.
    • Make sure everything is clean, particularly washbasins, the shower and the toilet – and please put the toilet seat down.
  • Make Repairs
    • In a buyer’s market, you want your home to be in the best condition possible.
    • Take care of major defects like broken windows or a leaky roof that could discourage buyers.
  • Remove Bad Odours
    • This particularly applies to the stale smells of smoking, cooking and animals.
    • You may not smell such things anymore, but others will.
  • Animals
    • You may love your cats and dogs, but other people may not.
    • Remove them from the property when a viewing is taking place in case the viewers are allergic or scared of animals.
    • You want potential buyers to feel comfortable and definitely not threatened.
  • You, The Owners
    • It is better if you also ‘make yourself a little scarce’ during a viewing as long as you have chosen a good estate agent; leave it to the experts, that is what you are paying them for.
      • Buyers need to take their time, get a feel of the place, imagine it is their home and have a good ‘nosy’ around. If the owners are looking over their shoulders they may feel awkward, embarrassed or even intimidated. Leave them alone. Let them enjoy the viewing.
      • So many owners say and do the wrong things during a viewing.
      • Some buyers try to take advantage owners, particularly those who may be vulnerable.
Neutral colours; neat, clean & tidy interior ready for viewing

B. Prepare Your Paperwork

  • Instruction to Sell
    • The first thing we will ask you to do is to complete an ‘Instruction to Sell’ document giving us your permission to market the property at a certain price and giving you our terms & conditions.
Instruct your estate agent to market your property
  • Documentation Required
    • Your estate agent legally has to have certain documents to be able to market your property, and other documents will be needed at some stage of the selling process, so please make sure the following are available:
      • Nota Simple – a document from the Land Registry that must be less than 3 months old, which gives up-to-date information on the owners, the property, outstanding debt etc.
      • Latest Property Ownership Tax Invoice (IBI – Impuesto Sobre Buenes Inmuebles)
      • Copies of recent Utility Invoices
      • Energy Performance Certificate
      • DNI Card (For Spanish Owners)
      • Passport For Foreign Owners)
      • NIE Number Document (For Foreign Owners)
      • Title Deeds (Escritura)
      • Details of Community Charge (comunidad) if on an urbanisation or for an apartment

C. Choose Your Estate Agent

Husband & wife getting information from their estate agent
  • We recommend choosing a local agent as their staff are more likely to know the area and property values.
  • Exclusive or Multiple Agencies?
    • In Spain, it is not unusual to have your property for sale with more than one agency, but this can be frustrating because you may have lots of different agents doing viewings, so it is hard to build rapport and understanding.
    • If you are not always available, they may all need keys, which is never good from a security point of view.
    • On the other hand, if you give an exclusive agreement with a small independent agent you are reducing the number of opportunities to sell your property.
    • This is why we at Buy A Home Spain have chosen to collaborate with over a thousand other estate agents across the Costas and Islands.
      • In this way, you will have lots more buyers exposed to your property and, very importantly, you will have the added advantage that only our local team will do the viewings for you.

D. Decide on the Asking Price

Make an educated decision on the asking price with advice from a local estate agent
  • This is a very important decision and a good reason why you need a well-informed local estate agent to advise you.
  • Remember that the most important factor here is what the market dictates, so it important to know what other similar properties have been selling for.
  • Do not decide on a price because you have seen other similar properties advertised at that price, because so many property owners ask for ridiculously high prices and hence, waste their time and the estate agent’s time. Please do not be one of those.
  • Do not decide on an asking price because you need or want a certain amount of money to say, buy another house or pay off a mortgage.
    • This is often hard for vendors to accept, but unfortunately, what you need or want is irrelevant when deciding on a selling Buyers will not pay a price because that is what you want; they will pay a price that is fair in the current market.
    • If the market price for your property is lower than the price you want or need, you have a choice: either do not try to sell it until the market price is higher or accept the facts and sell at a lower price.
    • In the current market, buyers expect to have an offer accepted which is below the asking price, so as your estate agent we will advise you on an asking price which is appropriately higher than the price we expect to sell at.
    • But we will not set that price too high, because it has to be attractive enough to get prospective buyers ‘through the front door’.

E. Accepting an Offer

  • Once an offer has been made, let us negotiate on your behalf to find a price that is satisfactory for both you and the buyer.

F. Inventory

  • If furniture and other house contents are included in the sale we will draw up a detailed ‘Inventory’ to be signed by both buyers and vendors.

G. Reservation Fee Document (Contrato de Reservación)

  • As soon as you have accepted an offer we will keep marketing your property until the buyers have transferred a Reservation Fee (usually 6,000€) either to us or to their solicitor.
  • You then have to take the property off the market with all estate agents for a specified period of time agreed between the buyers and vendors, normally 7, 15 or 21 days, in order for the buyers to have the time to find the money to make the Reservation Fee up to 10% of the purchase price.
  • You will need to sign a document which acts as a receipt for the buyers’ money and which also states the names and identification numbers of the buyers and vendors, the agreed sales price, together with any conditions that have been agreed concerning the purchase, including deadline dates.

H. Foreign Exchange Companies (FOREX)

Ensure you get the best deal: ask us for help & advice
  • In order to take the sales money out of Spain, without question, the simplest and most cost-effective method of transfer is to avoid the banks and opt for a non-bank foreign-exchange specialist.
  • There are a number of reasons why currency brokers are attracting custom: better rates, speed, low or no fees and better service levels.
  • Customers want to be able to manage their finances on the go and send money around the world quickly and efficiently with the help of their own dedicated expert.
  • But of course, the main reason that more property vendors are looking to specialist currency brokers to manage their currency transfers is that they can get access to better exchange rates.
  • Currency traders will typically offer exchange rates of up to 4 per cent better than high-street banks – a difference of £4,000 on a £100,000 deal.
  • We can recommend a number of FOREX specialists to you who are well-aware that because we recommend more than one company to our sellers, they have to offer you their best deal to win your business.

I. Private Purchase Contract (Compromiso de Compraventa) & 10% Deposit

The buyers are making a firm financial commitment
  • On or before the date stipulated in the Reservation Fee Document the buyers must pay the 10% of the purchase price (less the 6,000€ Reservation Fee already paid).
  • At this stage both buyers and vendors must sign the Private Purchase Contract which will state a date by which completion of the transaction must occur at a Notary Public. This document will be drawn up by the lawyers.
  • After this has been done, if the buyers decide to withdraw from the purchase, they will forfeit their deposit. If the 10% is paid before all the legal searches have been completed, the Reservation Fee document needs to stipulate that if legal or structural problems are found with the property that cannot be overcome, the 10% will be returned.
  • If the vendors withdraw, normally they will be obliged to pay double the amount of the deposit to the buyers, unless otherwise agreed between the two parties.

J. Property Check

  • Prior to completing the transaction, we, on behalf of the buyers, will check the property to ensure it has been left in good condition and if there is an inventory, to ensure that all items have been left.

K. Completion of the Sale

Sign the contract, take the money & hand-over the keys
  • This occurs at a Notary Public on a date agreed by the buyers and vendors as stated in the Private Purchase Contract.
  • It is a very straightforward part of the process and we will be there with your lawyer to offer support and help.
  • If you have given your lawyer a Power of Attorney, you do not even need to attend.
  • Both parties and the Notary will sign the new Title Deeds (Escritura), you will hand over the keys to the house and you will receive your money by cheque or bank transfer.

L. Costs of Selling a Property

Note: The details below refer to the autonomous region of Andalucía. Other regions may differ in some respects.

  • Estate Agent
    • Estate agents’ fees vary from area to area and from agent to agent but the standard commission is 5% of the purchase price.
    • You may find that smaller independent agents charge less, but as with most things in life you get what you pay for.
    • Because we operate on a larger scale, collaborating with many other agents, we often share the commission with another agent anyway, but the key point here is instructing an agent who makes sales.
    • Anyone can advertise 3% commission, but a ‘no-sale’ gives the agent 3% of nothing and you will still have your property on the market.
  • Lawyer
    • There is no legal requirement for a seller to appoint a lawyer, but as an estate agent we would always recommend taking appropriate advice and guidance.
    • The normal conveyancing costs are 1% of the purchase price plus VAT (IVA), but this can often be negotiated downwards, particularly for a seller.
    • You definitely need the help of a lawyer if you have made changes to your property that are not included in the Title Deeds (Escritura) or if any of the documentation you need is missing.
    • You will also need someone to calculate the Plusvalía tax – see below for details.
  • Energy Performance Certificate
    • In compliance with European directives on energy and environmental issues, the owners of existing homes must provide potential buyers with the property’s Energy Performance Certificate, which must be issued by a qualified technician.
    • Properties with a usable surface area of less than 50 m2 are excluded from this regulation.
    • The cost of this certificate varies depending on region and size of property, but would normally cost upwards of 100€.
  • Encumbrances
    • Vendors must also pay the fees for the cancellation of any encumbrances on the property such as a mortgage, unless otherwise agreed between buyer and vendor.
    • If the buyers want to purchase the property with a mortgage they should consider taking over the mortgage of the vendors as this can work out cheaper.
  • Local Municipal Tax (Plusvalía)
    • This is a tax charged by the town-hall (ayuntamiento) when a property is sold.
    • It is based on the increase of the value of the land from the date of purchase to the date of the current sale. It has nothing to do with the sales price.
    • The amount will be calculated by the local authorities based on the rateable value of the property and the number of years it has been owned by the vendor.
  • Capital Gains Tax (CGT)
    • The vendors will be responsible for the payment of this tax which is based on the increase in value of the property from the original purchase date to the date on which the current sale is made – less related taxes, expenses and other costs.
    • Summary of Capital Gains Tax Rates for 2017:
      • For Non-Residents                           19%
      • For Residents:
        –  First 6,000€                                   19%
        –  6,000€ to 50,000€                         21%
        –  Over 50,000€                                23%
    •  Non-Residents (In detail)
      • Non-Residents pay a CGT of 19%
      • 3% Withholding Retention
        • There is a risk that a non-resident will leave the country soon after the sale, raising a question mark on their tax compliance. To avoid such a scenario unfolding, a buyer’s lawyer is forced, under law, to withhold 3% of the agreed sales price and pay it into the Spanish Tax Office (AEAT). The Notary public witnessing the sale will ensure this is carried out.
        • Two scenarios unfold dependent on the profit made:
          • If a vendor has made a profit smaller than the retention, then he is entitled to claim back the difference for which there is a deadline of 3 months.
          • If the profit exceeds the 3% retention, a non-resident will be expected to pay the remainder within 3 months of the sale.
    • Residents (In detail)
      • If you are a permanent resident of Spain you will need to declare your capital gains as part of your annual tax declaration.
      • If you are under 65 and resident in Spain you will not have to pay CGT if:
        • You are selling your main residency and you are reinvesting the total proceeds into another property in Spain, within 4 years of the sale.
        • You have lived in the property for 3 years or more.
          • You must declare your intention of re-investing the proceeds into another Spanish property on your tax return.
            If you do not re-invest all of the proceeds of the sale into another Spanish property, you will be taxed on the amount that has not been invested.
      • Vendors over the age of 65 will not be liable for CGT on the sale of their main property, even if they do not plan to reinvest their sales proceeds into another Spanish property:
        • If the person has lived in the property for more than 3 years.
        • If the person can show that he/she has been a tax resident during this time.
      • Vendors over the age of 65 may also be exempt from CGT on the sale of any other property or asset:
        • If the full amount is invested into a pension annuity (Renta Vitalicia).
        • Up to a maximum re-investment of 240,000€.

M. Actual versus Declared Selling Price

  • In the past tax evasion was common in Spain and many sellers insisted that a portion of the purchase price was paid ‘under the table’ and not declared. In this way, the sellers would lower the amount of CGT they had to pay and the buyers would pay less Property Tax.
  • In the last 10 years or so this has changed dramatically. If the tax authorities feel that the sales price is too low they can and will impose significant penalties on the sellers.


Please note that the information given above does not constitute any form of financial advice. We advise you to consult with a fully qualified lawyer and tax specialist who can advise you based on your own special circumstances.

Your Local Estate Agent – Worldwide

Open : 10.00 - 14.00 / 15.00 - 18.00
Tel. +34 952 54 75 54
Tel. +44 (0)161 818 8356
Calle Pintor Cipriano Maldonado 7
Torre del Mar, Málaga
(+34) 952 54 75 54
10.00 - 14.00 / 15.00 - 18.00
Calle Pintor Cipriano Maldonado 7
Torre del Mar, Málaga, España
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