How to buy property in Spain and when to use legal translation services

Second home buyers have for decades been turning to Spain as the ideal place to purchase a holiday property. Just have a look at what the cost of buying real estate in Spain is! Spain’s weather, scenery, way of life, relatively low cost of living, gastronomy and more make it a win with holidaymakers from around the globe, many of whom visit the country regularly enough to make owning a second home there a sensible choice. The property news is awash with stories of happy Spanish property owners. In this article we’ll look at how to buy property in Spain and when you might need to use legal translation services as part of the process. We’ll also look at what you might need in addition to legal translation.

Do you need to use legal translation to buy a property in Spain

The UK government advises that, if you don’t have a good grasp of Spanish, you should use a translator for all contracts and documents that form part of the purchase process. Why is legal translation important? Because it can ensure that you understand precisely the commitments that you are entering into. Advice from translation service Tomedes highlights the importance of this precision when it comes to legal translation services, pointing out that,

“Legal translators understand the nuances and subtleties of specific terms to ensure that the legal translations they deliver are 100% accurate and certifiable.”

In terms of the documents that you may need to use legal translation for, there is a standard list of what you should complete as part of the purchase process. Those documents include:

  • The nota simple, which you check to ensure that the details in the land registry maintained by the Colegio de Registradores match the details of the sales documents, and that the seller is the property’s registered owner
  • Evidence that there are no outstanding debts or charges on the property (a mortgage, for example)
  • Proof that there are no legal proceedings initiated or in progress that state that the property has been built in contravention of land planning law

A legal translation professional can support you to check each of these points before you commit to purchase, helping to ensure that you buy safely.

Any other documents that relate to the purchase process and that are provided in Spanish will also warrant translation, from mortgage papers to contracts and bank guarantees for off-plan developments.

That’s not to say that it’s not possible to conduct much of the purchase process in your native tongue. Marc Pritchard, Sales and Marketing Director of Taylor Wimpey España, points out that,

“Whether or not you need to use legal translation services will largely depend on who you are buying the property from. Leading developers who specialise in selling to international buyers may well provide the paperwork in your native language. For example, we can provide contracts in English, German, Russian, French and Dutch, as well as Spanish. However, estate agencies who usually serve only domestic customers will likely expect to carry out the entire transaction in Spanish, meaning that you’ll need to arrange your own legal translation for the paperwork.”

How do you access legal translation services?

Personal recommendations are always a good idea when it comes to finding the right legal translation service. And given that over 15% of property purchases in Spain were made by international buyers during Q3 2020, even in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, there are plenty of buyers out there who will be able to make a recommendation.

If you don’t know anyone personally who has used a legal translation service, it’s worth scanning the various online forums that relate to moving to Spain and buying property there, to find recommendations. These sites can be an excellent source of advice from those who have been there and done it.

How do you translate a legal text? In terms of the translation itself, you’ll need to send the documents electronically to your chosen translator. They will then work on the legal translation as swiftly as possible. Translating a legal text is a very literal form of translation, which remains faithful to the source document at all times.

Which services do you need in addition to legal translation?

When it comes to buying a home in Spain, Keith Rule of CostaLuz Lawyers points out that an experienced and independent lawyer who specialises in property law is absolutely essential. His advice is to avoid those recommended by the agent or seller, as an independently sourced lawyer will have solely the buyer’s interests at heart.

With a lawyer on board, any further services that you need can be sourced with the support of that individual. And with a legal translation professional by your side as well, you can ensure that you don’t become one of those buyers who ends up in the property news for all the wrong reasons. Instead, you can sit back, relax and look forward to enjoying time in your new property.

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