Get a lawyer or a specialist who can guide you throughout the purchase process, as this will help you avoid having to travel and will help you with all the formalities. Although it is not compulsory, we do recommend that you hire someone.
Do a feasibility study if you need to take out a mortgage. Any bank specialising in international customers, such as CaixaBank, can perform this step and confirm the operation's viability within 72 hours via its online platform, with no need for a translation. Other banks, such as Sabadell and BBVA, specialise in transactions with foreigners.
All potential foreign buyers must apply for a foreigner's identity number (NIE), which will be used to identify them in Spain. If necessary, an advisor can take care of the paperwork required for applying for an NIE.
Opening a bank account in Spain is important, as all taxes and fees associated with the sale transaction must be paid through this account. You don't need to travel to open the account if you live in one of the 15 eligible European countries, such as Austria, Germany, Belgium, Denmark, Italy, Norway, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Finland, France, Ireland, Portugal, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.
If you do it in person, you can do so without travelling via a power of attorney, which allows another person to go to the branch on your behalf. To do so, you need an official translation into Spanish and a certified colour copy of your ID card or passport (i.e. displaying the Hague apostille stamp to certify authenticity). Mandatory documentation includes a passport or identity card, the Tax Identification Number (TIN) and proof of economic activity and income volume.
Ideally, you should check the property's condition before you buy it. You can hire a company that specialises in carrying out qualified inspections to do this. You can also ask the person carrying out the formalities in Spain to ask for the "nota simple registral", which includes all the information related to the property.
If you need a mortgage, you must collect documents so the bank can analyse your financial situation. Check what documents banks require to study your financing operation here.
The next step is to have the property appraised by a specialist company before taking out the mortgage so that you know its actual value.
The penultimate step consists of signing the pre-contractual documents, after which you must respect a 10-day cooling-off period (14 days in Catalonia) so you can clear up any doubts you may have with the notary public chosen to sign the mortgage.
Lastly, once all the above has been done, it is time to sign the purchase agreement and the mortgage in the presence of a notary public. The purchase agreement requires the seller to hand over the property in exchange for a previously agreed amount of money, so if either party breaches the agreement, there may be consequences.