Accommodation in Barcelona


Buy house or flat in Barcelona


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Housing Market

There is a mix of residential and commercial properties with a high degree of diversity and density. A large and steady demand for housing results in a lively market. In general, locals prefer purchasing their residence over renting them. More than 90 percent of local residencies in Catalonia are full ownership residencies.

Real Estate Prices

The residential market peaked in 2006 and have steadily been dropping since then. Since the peak, prices dropped 10 to 30 percent, depending on location and quality. Barcelona's geographic location between the Serra de Collserola Mountains and the Mediterranean Sea allows for limited new development. As a result, housing has retained its value better than other places in Spain.

Prices per square meter are difficult to estimate as official figures are unreliable.

  • Renovated apartments in exclusive locations (Eixample or Zona Alta) - 5,000 to 10,000 euros per square meter
  • Apartment in need of renovation - 2,500 to 5,000 euros per square meter

Expats Buying Real Estate

Visiting Barcelona leads many people to want to move to Barcelona. It is important to understand the market before making the big move. As people from around the world move here, the population of Barcelona is becoming more diverse with more than 150 different nationalities represented in the city.

There are no additional requirements for foreign buyers besides a Número de Identificación de Extranjero. European Union residents may receive their NIE in one day, but it may take a few weeks for other residents. For how to apply for the NIE, refer to the section under social security.

How to Search for Real Estate

You should first determine what exactly you are looking for.

  • What's your price range?
  • Where do you want to live?
  • Do you want to live in a house or a flat?
  • How many rooms do you need?
  • Would you prefer a modern home, or something traditional?
  • Do you require certain amenities like a gym, doormen, etc?
  • Do you have pets?
You must also act fast as the best properties are in high demand. Buy the latest newspapers, keep up-to-date on internet searches, and act fast.

Estate Agent

Real estate agents (Agentes de Propiedad Inmobiliaria) are extremely helpful in finding a home and understanding the real estate climate. There are many agents within the Barcelona, so shop around and find an agent that meets your needs. If you are employed with a company, they may have an agent they work with they can refer. Also check with friends and acquaintances for recommendations.

Some agents also advertise abroad in property publications. Note that agents usually charge a retaining fee of approximately 150 euros per annum and about 500 euros for the handling of a purchase or sale of a property. Solicitors may also help you obtain your NIE number, for a fee.

Online Listing

Online listings can give you a great feel for the market and allow you to determine if a place fits your specifications before you spend time going to look at it.

Networking

Friends, relatives and acquaintances are great resources for getting leads on available property. Ask around, and put out the word that you are looking. You may also ask the porter (portero) of desirable buildings if there are any vacancies. They often know the upcoming vacancies before they are officially listed.

Newspapers

If you prefer print, as even some sellers do, property sections can be found in most daily newspapers on a weekly or bi-weekly basis as well as online and through specialist property publications.

Public Postings & Forums

Many places have billboards offering advertisements for a variety of goods and services. Laundrettes, cafes, grocery stores, community centers, and bars all might have private ads for property.

Expat and social forums are another resource for house seekers. You can get a realistic expectations of what it's like to live in Barcelona as well as make helpful contacts. Check out Easy Expat's Barcelona forums and networking tool to find expats in Barcelona.

Process of Sale

Nota Simple Informativa

Once you have found a home you want to purchase, you should get a nota simple informativa. This documentation from the Property Registry (Registro de la Propiedad) certifies that the property is free of debt, belongs to the seller, and if the description of the property matches what the buyer has been told.

Pre-Agreement

There should be an agreement between the seller and the buyer until the public deed of purchase is ready. This can be a simple document in which the seller expresses their intent to transfer the property to the buyer, and the buyer expresses their intent to buy at the price and conditions agreed upon. At this time, the buyer also gives to the seller a percentage of the agreed-upon price, usually around 10 percent. The typical agreement in Spain (arras) is if the buyer backs out of the contract, they lose the deposit; if the seller backs out, they have to pay double.

Certifying the Transfer of Property

Once the mortgage has been obtained, the property transfer must be certified by a notary. The deed of purchase will be given to the buyer after the notary reads it and the parties present agree to the contents of the deed.

    You must present:
  • Proof of identity (or power of attorney) of both parties
  • Seller's title of property (a form that reports the investment to the Central Register)
  • Buyer's payment
The buyer and seller must sign the contract. Beneath their signature, the notary signs using his firma protocolizada and the deed is ready for taxes.

Property Registry

To fully protect your newly purchased property, register your title at the Property Registry. A standard fee of about .4 percent of the first 6,010,121 euros is charged (or as little as .02 percent for over 6,010,121 euros).

Mortgage

Most people need financing from a bank to purchase a home. An appraiser (tasador) is responsible for evaluating each case. Appraiser's must be paid by the buyer, usually between 300-500 euros. Tasador are also licensed architect and may be a valuable resource for evaluating the structural integrity of the house.

    The documents typically required by a bank are:
  • DNI/NIE
  • Work contract
  • Last 3 paycheck stubs
  • Latest income tax return
  • Pre-agreement with the seller
  • Proof that the property tax (IBI) on the house is paid up.
  • Other mortgages or loans that you may have
  • All property titles, both in Spain and overseas
  • Certificate from work authorities (vida laboral), showing your past work history
  • Records of your assets (bank/mutual fund statements, etc.)
  • Nonresident's: A certificate of nonresidency (form available from the bank)

Taxes

Transfer tax (impuesto de transmisiones patrimoniales) - Specified in the deed, this is usually 6 percent. For real estate developers buying a building or land to be built on, the buyer pays VAT tax

Stamp tax (impuesto de actos jurídicos documentados) - Applicable to housing, this tax is about .5 percent

Investment

Investors in Spain are common as the country continually offers easy access to property, and a wealth of foreign visitors and expats. Investors may employ the power of attorney which enables the title deed to be signed without you in the country. The typical cost would be approximately 250 euros.

Auction

Buying at auction is very exciting and can offer you a significant savings. Note that most properties are sold cheaply, but may need extensive renovation. This option is not recommended for first time buyers, and even experienced buyers should bring a friend or advisor as a second opinion.

There is the opportunity to buy properties that have been repossessed by the Spanish Banks at vastly discounted prices. Many of these Spanish properties are brand new having being originally bought “off plan” by people who just cannot afford to complete their purchase and the Spanish Banks have no option but to repossess the property. Some of the Banks auction the properties through agencies while others sell them directly. These properties often come with a 90 percent mortgage from the Bank who has repossessed it.



Update 19/06/2012

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