Wanted - Advice/tips on buying a place in Spain/Mallorca

More specifically, a North American buying in Spain. Has anyone here gone through the process and what would you consider important to consider. I’ve been to Spain and Mallorca 3 or 4 times and know the areas, I’m wondering about major obstacles or sage advice you might give, websites to study, etc. on the buying process.

1 Like

No. I live in the U.K. and I have two general observations:

  1. Great decision, Majorca is superb
  2. Spanish legal system is very complex and random compared to the rest of Western Europe; whether property law is complex I don’t know but I suspect not, plenty of Brits own second properties in Spain

Not really helped much there, sorry!

I guess the best thing to do is rent a place the first year and find local professionals who know the process to figure out what is involved.

Check out Expat forums.

As an American living in Switzerland who bought a place in Spain as a vacation slash future retirement home (it’s a lot cheaper than Switzerland :wink: ), perhaps I can offer some initial guidance.

A couple of initial points:

  • To purchase property (and open a bank account and get a cell phone and pretty much do anything) you’ll need an “NIE” (Número de Identificación de Extranjeros), which is basically like our SSN (I wrote “our” because you wrote North American, even though you could be Canadian or Mexican).
  • You’ll need to apply for an NIE in person and they’ll need a notarized copy (photo copy) of your passport, proof of income, information about job / income, proof of residence elsewhere (showing you live somewhere else, the NIE is not a residency visa, it’s just the registration with the tax authorities). This is best done with a local lawyer (in Spain, near Majorca, the lawyer doesn’t have to be on Majorca) because nothing is accepted in English. Certain documents will have to be translated into Spanish by a registered translator.
  • money for the purchase will have to be in a Spanish bank, and you need an NIE to open an account. CaixaBank specifically targets foreigners and provides English and other language services accordingly, and well beyond banking (keep reading). To open a bank account, you’ll also need proof of income (to protect the bank against money laundering).
  • The purchase process is going to be different than what you’re probably used to, including responsibilities of the estate agent (who among other things is responsible for changing the utilities) and how payments are made.
  • Once you purchase your property, You can get an “investor’s visa” aka “Golden Visa” – a residency visa – if you buy a property worth €500,000 or more (about $580,000).
  • To get the visa, you’ll need an FBI background check (if you’re US) that gets an Apostille (essentially an international notary) from the State Department. There are services that can do this for you (if you’re in the US, there are plenty of places to have your fingerprints taken and submitted to FBI). You’ll also need your marriage certificate (if married), also with an Apostille (generally given by the state). Incidentally, the Spanish marriage certificate is apparently a “living” document in that it records marriages and divorces etc while the US is a one-shot. Both of these will need to be translated by a translator registered with the Spanish authorities. You’ll also need an entry stamp in your passport for entering Spain (or the Schengen Zone) as part of the application process to “prove” you’re living outside of Spain (you can do a quickie hop outside and back to get the stamp if necessary but that’s harder now with the still limited flight schedules and COVID restrictions in countries). You’ll need this to apply for the visa and to get the visa. (I don’t think you need this for the NIE afterall the entry stamp is about residency and the NIE is not.)

You’ll needed to be in Spain at least two times during this process. The NIE must be applied for in person and the bank account opening will also need to be done in person. Ideally, since you’re coming from NA, you’ll do the house hunting on the first trip.

My suggestion is to first identify a possible property, enage a local agent, visit the properties if possible. Most likely, your estate agent will have a lawyer who will handle your “kind” :slight_smile: and will take you through the processes above (and whatever I missed). The lawyer, in turn, is likely to have a contact at a bank for you (if the estate agent doesn’t). There are a lot of foreign buyers there and because the system is complex, with its own quirks, and not multilingual, well, you need this assistance.

You’ll probably want to identify a caretaker for the property, possibly just for a monthly check in to make sure a pipe didn’t break, etc. The estate agent may help.

Here’s a listing of properties from the estate agent I used in Valencia. This may be helpful just to get an idea of what’s there. You’ll definitely want to talk to an agent to get more information and access to properties that agent isn’t listing (note: the default list is in descending price so you’ll probably need to scroll).

Feel free to PM for more, including contacts, or to clarify my rushed reply.

9 Likes

I forgot to add that as part of the visa, you’ll need to purchase health insurance with a zero deductible to give you equivalent coverage as a Spaniard, for whom healthcare is free. For my family of four, and with dental (because of a quirk it was basically the same price not that we expect to use a dentist in Spain), this means less than $3000 / year in insurance (for the whole family). So you’ll need to figure that in as well.

2 Likes

Fantastic information. The websites I’ve read only provided about half of the process you laid out. I really appreciate the effort you took to respond to my inquiry and clearly lay out real life advice. I hope to go back to Spain in the spring for a few weeks and start the process (I’m Canadian). I was recently in Germany for 2 weeks (September) so my passport should be primed. I’ll be in touch (PM’ing) for contacts if I need some help.

Thanks again for all your advice and enjoy your time in Spain.

Good lead! Thanks very much.

Glad the info is helpful. Since you are Canadian, I suspect the only change in the information I gave is that the RCMP will probably be the authority to conduct your background check (Spain wants to make sure you don’t have a criminal history… I don’t know their threshold.) and that GFA will probably apply the apostille to the background check. And of course, the marriage cert, if required, will presumably get an apostille from the province.

Honestly, if you’re serious, whether or not you want/need/urgently desire to commit in the spring, I’d reach out and talk to some estate agents before you go so they can line up properties to view to at least get an idea of the options. Also, if you think you’re serious, I’d apply for your NIE on this trip as that’s one less thing to deal with later. With that, you can open your bank account, which if you think you’re serious, would probably be wise to do. When / if you apply for your residency visa, you’ll want a “lot” of money in the account, which can actually be your purchase amount for the property (so artificially high). Know that the visa is first issued as a 2yr visa (i joke it’s a starter to make sure you’re serious), after which you may apply for a renewal, which I think is 5yrs (my renewal is in process).

For the entry stamps, I believe they need to be from 60 days or less. That you were in Germany doesn’t matter since you’ll be reentering the Schengen in the spring.

I don’t know about the Canadian banking system, but I know the US banking system remains antiquated. You’ll have no need for paper checks in Spain, in fact you won’t be issued them. Everything is electronic. Property taxes and community tax will be low, but you’ll be sure to talk to the estate agent about those. You’ll need a Spanish SIM or a Spanish landline (this was a default, non-negotiable option with an internet connection) because the utilities and others need that phone number, they won’t accept an international number. You’ll need the NIE to get that SIM, which will be helpful anyway to not use your Canadian SIM (which may not have free time / data in Spain / EU).

Happy to help.

Geography pedant here: Mallorca is part of Spain

1 Like

Thanks again for everything. Apparently Canada is not part of the apostille convention which necessitates some alternative but equally valid measures in Ontario. Your advice on the order of the steps to be taken is what I was hoping to get here. It’s nice to hear the voice of experience.

Yes. I was emphasizing Mallorca in case there was some special market information/considerations related to the island versus the mainland.

1 Like

I know :slight_smile:

On the point of ‘special market information / considerations,’ a couple of thoughts come to mind. First, considering Majorca / Mallorca is a major tourist destination, I wonder if the major towns there might be easier to navigate for the non-Spanish speaker. Second, this is a good market to let your place out when you’re not there, like with AirBNB or similar. I’d bet there are plenty of services that can manage the property for you for this purpose. The question of renting it out will come up with your estate agent and the lawyer and it’s something for you to decide. I can’t share first-hand experience in this regard as our place in Valencia is simply for us, we do not rent it out though we would allow friends to use it.

Another thought: we love Valencia because it has a lot of great restaurants, the wife loves the shopping, its a very walkable city, it’s not a major tourist destination like Madrid or Barcelona, it’s safe, easy access to great beaches (same Med Sea), and it has good cycling. It is also a 1hr flight or 6hr ferry from Valencia to Palma, Mallorca. There’s not a lot on Mallorca, which might be the point. But taken as a whole, I like Valencia better than Mallorca.

I tend to agree with you. Your input is much appreciated. I don’t personally know anyone from Canada who has bought a place in Spain.

We have spent time in Barcelona, Madrid, Girona, Seville, San Sebastian and Granada and are considering those options. My family does not spend any time at beaches but prefer hiking, biking, food and cultural activities (and of course the wife needs shopping options). Mallorca is easy and inexpensive to get to from the mainland and the transportation system on the island is amazing. We don’t speak Spanish but have never had any problems communicating in English anywhere we travelled in Spain. So yes, Mallorca is not set in stone.

1 Like