American Citizen Buying a Home in Spain

Old May 17th, 2013, 09:52 PM
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American Citizen Buying a Home in Spain

Visiting Spain soon - interested in buying a home there - can someone elucidate me as to the international legalities surrounding this issue, but also, how an American can spend most of the year in that country
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Old May 17th, 2013, 11:02 PM
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"how an American can spend most of the year in that country " Basically marry and EU citizen!
I think you are going to get a lot of No Sayers.
But it will be very very difficult.
Read everything here:
http://spain.angloinfo.com/
Good luck...maybe write a book on it it will be helpful and make money for you!
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Old May 17th, 2013, 11:07 PM
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The international legalities may change before the ink in dry on your contract because no one knows what will happen to the euro. Not a problem if you are thinking of buying in cash only, but could be very big problem otherwise.

Portugal has recently begun discussions about offering Portuguese citizenship to people who buy property in Portugal. Spain has so much property on the market, it might want to go that path as well.

Otherwise, enrolling in a certified language school full time is the quickest way to get permission to stay longer than 90 days. Otherwise, you need to apply to the Spanish government for that, and they will want to know if you have health insurance and whether you have enough money to support yourself without looking for a job to take away from a Spaniard. That sort of thing.
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Old May 17th, 2013, 11:09 PM
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lol, I forgot about marrying a Spaniard! Same sex marriage is legal in Spain, so the possibilities are endless. Unfortunately, polygamy is not, so if you are already married, might have to go to language school instead.
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Old May 17th, 2013, 11:11 PM
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i don't know if Spain is still offering residency for people who buy a sufficiently expensive home, but you might want to look into that

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/arti...ng-market.html
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Old May 17th, 2013, 11:14 PM
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Here's more. Obtaining residency through property purchase in Spain appears to be a work in progress, if it ever happens

http://articles.latimes.com/2013/jan...dency-20130120
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Old May 18th, 2013, 12:31 AM
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Spain is not offering any citizenship if you purchase a house. It is only considering the proposal.
For articles in the Daily Mail one should watch this video
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5eBT6OSr1TI
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Old May 18th, 2013, 01:01 AM
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While the short-term visits of up to 90 days within a 180 day period are harmonized among the Schengen countries like Spain, any other form of long-stay permits or visas have and will always be within the domain of the respective country.
In general, you do not need citizenship to get a temporary or permanent residence and/or working permit. But this is all governed by the national laws. So you should contact the Spanish embassy to inquire about your options (and get a valid assessment of your plans, and not just random opinions).

Buying property in Spain must not be done without legal assistance from a lawyer, which should be
> domiciled in the potential area of interest to have a thorough knowledge of also local, provincial or regional laws and ordinances and of the value of the respective property and
> experienced in dealing with foreigners, i.e. have certified (English) translations of all relevant documents etc.
Forums are full of horror stories of home buyers which found out that their new property had been erected violating local building codes and had to be torn down (at their expenses, of course), or that in two years a new motorway would run through their backyard, or that the power line to their new finca was not working and so on and on..

So please get expert professional advice and help on both your questions about residence and buying property.
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Old May 18th, 2013, 03:00 AM
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Thanks to all for valuable insight and help in navigating what I expect to be a long and winding road to resolving this pipe dream
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Old May 18th, 2013, 04:07 AM
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There is basically no restriction on Americans buying a property in Spain. You can just go in as a tourist, put down cash and become an owner.

There is currently no provision for non-EEA citizens with a property to gain residency rights in Spain, so you are still restricted to Schengen rule of 90-in-180 days.
You can try for a long-term, non-working visa, but owing a property doesn't help, except that you have somewhere to live. You need to qualify on the ground of self-sufficiency (having enough non-earned income to pay for all your living expense), private medical insurance and, often, a medical and criminal record check. If you are below state retirement age (65 in Spain), presumptions are you will try to work so you need convincing proofs of guaranteed income through pensions or investment.

As for the legality of buying a Spanish property, caveat emptor rules. Never sign anything without getting legal advice, and employ your own lawyer, not the one recommended by the seller or property company. Because of the vast number of British expats, there are plenty of English-speaking lawyers who can give you reliable advice. And engage the services of a gestor to handle paperwork.

Also plan for property taxes you may be liable for. There is annual property tax of 2% of its value, and wealth tax on properties worth more than 700,000 euro.
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Old May 18th, 2013, 08:37 AM
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A property tax of 2% seems like a very good deal (6K per year on a house of 300K) unless there are a lot of other local or similar property taxes involved.

But I believe that showing sufficient income on top of the cost of the residence is often the sticking point (unless a pension how do you guarantee the value of investments?).
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Old May 18th, 2013, 09:45 AM
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I cannot emphasise strongly enough how important the advice you see up thread to make sure that all documents are in perfect order, and are fully certified. After a divorce, I wanted to transfer ownership of our small apartment in Calpe, Spain to my "Practice Wife". It was in my name (US citizen), and she is a Brit. I live in Washington State, and the nearest certified translator, and the closest Spanish Consulate was in British Columbia. The whole mess took almost two years to complete and was a total PITA; involving many trips to sign things, than additional trips to clarify inconsequential nuances in the paperwork.

I'm not saying it is not worth doing, but just make sure you understand it may be convoluted, and take more time than you anticipate.
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Old Aug 2nd, 2013, 12:03 AM
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Check out the spanish embassy website for requirements to get a residency visa.. I know many people who have done so. it is a long process but they were in no rush.

PLease RENT before you buy. Please try to use a relocation agent who will be neutral in his/her suggestions.
Please get an inspector of the property in question before signing anything.

Realize that high noise levels are tolerated more in this country. Insulation is much worse. Mostly inexpensive building practice. Police do very little about barking dogs, noisy neighbors, motorcycles up and down your street once school is out.

you can rent so reasonably here now that renting different places across the country will give you a better idea of what you want, where you want it and if you can adapt to the culture and neighbor relationships you will encounter before settling on a certain property.

I wish you luck.
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Old Aug 2nd, 2013, 06:49 AM
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The issues surrounding US citizenship and the fatal quirks of buying property in Spain quickly douses any thought of it. Even now with all the available properties.
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Old Aug 2nd, 2013, 06:55 AM
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Many available properties but frankly, with the poor exchange rate, I don't see many bargains. Then , when you go to sell if you are unlucky and the rate has changed against your favor, you will lose a LOT to convert your same ( if you are lucky) euros back to dollars so this is something that needs to be taken into consideration.
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Old Aug 2nd, 2013, 07:41 AM
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Good point Lin.

You also have the position of the all powerful Notaries in Spain and France, a position unknown in the US. A US notary just attests to the identity of someone signing a document. A far cry from the authority of a Spanish notary.
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Old Aug 7th, 2013, 11:30 AM
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To all, a big thank you for all your valuable insight and forewarnings, there is much to digest and contemplate well before any decisions are made - especially noteworthy is the suggestion to peruse the Spanish consulate's website...other than that, we all could do without Robert's abuse of this website chastising those of us who find Fodors to be an invaluable source of learning and information - which is exactly why some of us post in the first place, duh
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Old Aug 7th, 2013, 11:44 AM
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my experience as a divorce lawyer has influenced me very strongly against buying property in a "foreign" country, and in a place like Spain there is so much rental property there is really no point in doing so.

this does not of course apply to the mega-rich, but they sadly do not comprise my client-base.

should you belong to this class, Thomas, please ignore the above.
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Old Aug 7th, 2013, 12:04 PM
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No mega rich in my client base either Ann, but a fair sprinkling of Spanish property owners.

Most of them are in OK places, but one has caught an enormous cold on value and taxes.
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Old Aug 7th, 2013, 01:09 PM
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Hi and thank you for the follow-up...my wife and I are definitely NOT anywhere near the 1%...furthermore, including both your responses, there seems to be a huge buyer-beware influence from all the feed-back I've gotten...for this, I'm not surprised and will tread cautiously around the issue of eventually relocating
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