Are you looking to know about the documentation for selling a flat?
If you do not have the necessary documents to sell a property, this article will clarify your questions and help you understand the complexity of the documentation and paperwork required to sell a flat or house.
It’s far from uncommon to lack important documents concerning your own house. Just look at the number of results in Google in Spain for ‘I don’t have the deeds of my house’ – 62 million!. Neither is it uncommon to discover you’re not even registered as the owner of your own property.
It could take you up to three months to fulfil the requirements to sell a property – but that’s three months you save yourself further down the line.
Though it’s time-consuming to collect the documents to sell a property in Spain, they will speed up the buying process immensely. Buyers are very wary. When the Spanish Treasury began a nationwide campaign to regularise illegal homes in 2013, they found that more than three million had not declared renovations, swimming pools or even entire newbuild homes.
If Spain today has 29 million homes, at one time at least 10% had irregularities liable for sanctions between €60-€6,000 and upwards.
These irregularities can lead to unpaid fines and charges on a property. Spain saw record-breaking levels of renunciations on inheritances in 2021 – some 56,667, or 13% of the total – largely due to the cost of assuming the debt on such properties.
So, having the right documents to sell a property will help a buyer make their decision faster.
What is needed to sell a property in Spain?
Assuming you already have an interested buyer, all you’ll need to sell a property in Spain are the correct documents and a notary.
The documents needed to sell a property in Spain fall into two categories: essential and non-essential.
These categories are determined by which the notary will specifically request in order to prepare a contrato de compraventa (contract of sale). This is the final document you will sign before handing over the keys and saying goodbye to your property, and hence notaries are obliged by law to ensure certain certificates and documents to sell a property are all in place.
But there are other documents buyers may ask you for. These can help you speed up the purchase process and put the buyer in a stronger position following negotiations on an agreed asking price.
Below you can find a list of 10 essential and 3 non-essential documents to sell a property in Spain. We’ll also answer the question ‘do I need a notary to sell my house in Spain?.
10 essential documents to sell a property in Spain
1. Deed Summary
The “nota simple” is a document specifying who is the owner of a property. It also outlines the characteristics of a house or apartment and discloses any charges on debts (including a mortgage) on the house.
It’s common for a buyer to request the nota simple. A notary will also request it prior to bringing all parties together to sign the contract of sale.
While the notary can obtain a property’s nota simple directly from the Colegio de Registradores de la Propiedad, it’s worth a buyer doing so anyway well in advance. If any details concerning the ownership, characteristics of a property and any outstanding debts are not correct, you will have time to rectify these.
You can request the nota simple from the above link online, and for a cost of €9 receive it within 48 hours.
2. Energy performance certificate
The certificado de eficiencia energética (energy performance certificate) gathers details about energy consumption and efficiency in a property.
In Spain, this certificate has been obligatory since 2013 for any transaction or rental agreement concerning a property with the European Union. It is required when publishing listings of your property through real estate agencies or online, and when signing the transfer deed.
If you don’t have an energy performance certificate, you will need to contract an authorised technician to inspect your property and send the resulting certificate. The hold process can take up to seven days and costs between €100-€140.
3. Certificate of habitation
The cédula de habitabilidad is a document confirming that a property complies with legal requirements for habitation.
This certificate is obligatory in Asturias, Baleares, Cantabria, Cataluña, the Comunidad Valenciana, Extremadura, La Rioja, Murcia and Navarra. In Cataluña – where Bcn Advisors operate – a certificate is valid for 15 years. After this date, you will need to contract a technician to carry out a new inspection and send a new certificate of habitation.
The process can take 30-90 days and cost around €100.
If you simply do not have an active certificate, you can request one from your local town hall.
4. Certificado de inspección técnica del edificio (ITE)
The ITE in Spain certifies the overall structure and habitability of the building or block where the house or apartment is located.
If you do not have an up-to-date ITE you may find surprises, and just cause for a buyer to renegotiate the asking price at the moment of signing a contract of sale. If the ITE shows structural issues with the home, you must notify a prospective buyer and have the notary record the agreement in a contract of sale.
An ITE certificate can remain valid for at least 45 years in Cataluña depending on the year a property was built. If your ITE certificate is no longer valid, you will need to contract a technician for between €60 to €200 depending on whether the property is an apartment or detached home.
If you do not have a copy of your property’s ITE and live in an apartment block, you can request it from the president of your community of residents. If you own a detached home you can request a copy from your local town hall, though the ITE may be out of date or unable to be located.
5. Property tax receipt
The Impuesto sobre Bienes Inmuebles (IBI) is an annual property tax, paid to your local town hall annually.
A buyer may ask for the most recent IBI receipt of payment during negotiations, and it is obligatory to bring before a notary when signing a contract of sale.
The IBI receipt proves you are up to date with property tax payments. If you don’t have the most recent IBI receipt, you can show a bank statement.
6. Electricity, water and gas receipts
You must present the most recent electricity, water and gas (if applicable) receipts before a notary when signing a contract of sale.
The receipts prove you are up to date with payments, and that your home is indeed receiving electricity, water and gas supplies.
If you do not have your latest receipts, you can request them from relevant companies.
7. Document proving lack of debts with community of residents
If you are selling an apartment or house within a community of residents, you must present a certificate proving you have no unpaid community costs before a notary.
You can request such a certificate from the president of your community of residents. Expect to wait up to seven days to receive the document. Don’t forget to notify the president of the contract of sale once completed to ensure you do not continue to receive community bills.
8. Certificate of zero debt
Your bank can issue a certificado de deuda cero to prove you have paid off the mortgage of your home.
Such a certificate is usually issued instantly, and is obligatory to present before a notary when signing a contract of sale. On occasion your bank can charge up to €100 to issue such a certificate.
If you have outstanding mortgage payments, you can pay these off using money from the property sale. In this case, you will need a certificate showing how much debt remains to be paid.
In the latter case, the bank of the buyer will send a cheque to your bank and to you with the remaining cash after the mortgage has been liquidated.
9. Contract of sale
If you bought your house, you will need to bring the escritura de compraventa which transferred ownership into your name.
You will need to bring this contract of sale during the signing of a new contract of sale which grants ownership to the buyer.
10. Identity documents
This final document to sell a property in Spain should be obvious: your identity documents.
If you are a Spanish national, this will be your DNI card. If you are a foreigner buying a house in Spain, you will need to show your NIE number.
3 Non-essential documents to sell a property in Spain
Aside from the 10 essential documents to sell a property in Spain covered above, buyers may ask you for more information.
The five non-essential documents to sell a property below can help your real estate agent attract a buyer more quickly. They can also speed up the buying process and put you in a stronger negotiation position.
1. Reservation contract
The contrato de arras or contrato de reserva is extremely common, despite not being essential to a house transfer.
This document sets out an agreement between a seller and a buyer following initial negotiations on price. The reservation contract typically determines a date by which the full house transfer will take place, depending on certain conditions such as obtaining a mortgage.
Usually the buyer will make a payment – often held by a third-party – which will be awarded to the seller in case a buyer pulls out without meeting conditions agreed in the contrato de arras.
While sample reservation contracts can be found online, these are best left to professionals at a real estate agency or legal firm.
The contrato de arras can put the seller in a strong position to fend off any further price negotiations provided conditions within the document are met.
2. Floor plans of a property
Floor plans are architectural drawings which communicate the layout and size of a property.
A notary is unlikely to request floor plans when you sell your property, but your real estate agent may well publish them alongside photographs and details of your property. Floor plans can help a prospective buyer better visualise the property you are selling.
While there are specialised apps to help you create floor plans of a property, these are best left to a professional architect who may charge between €60 to €350.
3. Statues of the community of owners
If you live in a residential complex, apartment block, urbanisation or finca regia there are likely to exist statues of the community of owners.
These could establish rules such as usage of installations and communal areas, as well as annual costs, insurance, maintenance and rules of reforms or renovations.
It is likely a buyer will ask you for the Estatutos de la comunidad de propietarios during the negotiation process. While such a document is not necessary – and not all urbanisations will have one – it can help speed up the buying process while clearing any doubts in the buyers’ mind.
Is a notary a requirement to sell a property in Spain?
You may have noticed the essential documents to sell a property in Spain are largely for the notary.
Notaries can charge between €90 to €600 to prepare and sign a contrato de compraventa (contract of sale) with both parties present. While this document Incumplimiento de contrato de compraventa por parte del vendedor is vital for the new owner to register their name into the Spanish property register, you may ask if a notary is a requirement to sell a property in Spain.
While any private contract signed by both parties is acceptable under Spanish law, there are benefits to having a notary help prepare documents needed to sell a property in Spain.
First of all, a notary provides security to both parties that any future issues or contract breaches can be resolved through the original contrato de compraventa. Once signed by a notary this document is inscribed into the Registro Público de la Propiedad and can protect the owner from any third party disputes.
As such, a buyer will likely want the security of a notary.
For the seller, a contract of sale signed by a notary can speed up proceedings if a buyer does not pay. It can also be used by the former owner to resolve any unwarranty payments or charges concerning the property after the date of transfer.
Documents needed to sell a property in Barcelona
Spain is made up of 17 autonomous communities, each of which may have particular rules on documents needed to sell a property.
For example, when selling a house in Barcelona you will need to present the Certificado de Inspección Técnica del Edificio (ITE) on any house older than 45 years, in ruins and/or following any type of recent integral renovation.
If finding all the necessary paperwork is a struggle, a specialised real estate agency will likely know all the right channels and people to obtain documents to sell a property as soon as possible.