contrato privado (= Private contract)

This concerns the private, non-notarised contract, for the acquisition of property. This is possible in Spain unlike many other countries. It is theoretically even possible to seal a land purchase contract in Spain with a handshake. I strongly advise against, however, unless there are good reasons for it.
This Private contract is often called an options contract or held as such. Also the pre-payment contract recommended by us (Contrato de Arras) is a preliminary agreement. The private or preliminary agreement is used to cover the time between buying decision and notary date (escritura), to bind both parties to the agreement. Market prices are specified here, unlike values mentioned in the escritura. Also, other conditions may be agreed upon here, which a notary would not include in the escritura.
Do not confuse this with the hire-purchase agreement , whereby each instalment is guaranteed by the builder’s bank, according to progress in building.

registro de la propiedad (= land registry office)

Security concerning the legal title to a property is afforded by the land registry (= registro de la propiedad) in requesting a nota simple (= simple extract from the land registry), which anybody, even without proof of entitled interest, can usually receive within 24 hours. It is only safe to buy directly from the registered owner, otherwise we recommend further investigation. Even in the case of a owner being correctly registered, it is still possible that there may be some liens on the property, so that further inquiries by a lawyer are needed, to avoid legal problems later on.
We can request a nota simple (extract from the land registry) for you:

  • this costs 65€ at present including postage. A condition that all land registry data is available.
  • if only the name of the owner is known, then a search must be done, costing about 130 €.
  • these costs must be pre-paid!

Apostille (apostilla)

Es ist die nach dem internationalen Übereinkommen von Den Haag aus dem Jahre 1962 für den internationalen Rechtsverkehr vereinbarte Urkunde mit Siegel darüber, dass das mit der Apostille versehene Dokument ein von einer berechtigten Urkundsperson im Original ausgefertigte Urkunde ist. Letztlich ist es die Oberbeglaubigung meist auf eine notarielle Beglaubigung. Die Apostille macht die nationale Urkunde international verkehrsfähig.

traducciones juradas (= official translations

These are frequently required for legal transactions e.g. in property and inheritance matters as well as in other legal matters in Spain. Translations from ordinary translation agencies, without an official stamp, are not recognized. In Spain, this authorization is given by the Ministry of Justice in Madrid. Official translations are also needed to receive an inheritance ,when the certificate of inheritance must be translated into Spanish. Where no international (if multilingual) death certificate is present, then a national death certificate must be officially translated. More information can be obtained from qualified translator, Ramon López:

ley de propiedad horizontal

This is Spanish residential property law, where a free-hold flat is administered by a community. Relatively few differences to the English residential property law result. The usual financial risks are similar as elsewhere. It is important to inquire about the budgetary situation and the statutes. It is particularly important to meet the caretaker and the president of the community in order to be able to judge whether co-operation will be possible.


This is the Spanish land registry, which has gained in importance recently, and whose purpose is to define the legal borders of properties, but as yet does not cover the entire national territory. See also above land registry reference and Fincanumber.