Housebuyers Guide


This webpage contains general information only. The particular circumstances of any purchase must be considered. Always take qualified legal advice. Based on our experience we recommend that you do NOT use a lawyer recommended by any other party to the transaction and if in doubt use a lawyer based at a reasonable distance from the location of your property.

Your building plot *

  1. Before developing either urban or rural land a number of vital enquiries have to be made. Most important is the planning status attached to it, which may prevent development. This information is available in the town plan called the Plan General de Ordenacion Urbana (PGOU). To be an enforceable plan, this document MUST have the approval of the regional planning authority (the Junta de Andalucia). Otherwise it is an Advance PGOU, is unapproved and means nothing.
  2. You can only build on land that has been approved for urbanisation or general housing development as designated on the approved PGOU.
  3. If your selected plot is not approved for building, then you can ask the planning authorities to change the designation of the land.  Final approval for a change in the land designation lies with the Junta de Andalucia NOT with the local council.
  4. In recognition of the fact that the value of your land increases if it is urbanized, Spanish Law allows the local council to ask you for cash and/or part of your land as a contribution to the provision of services such as roads, water, sewage etc.
  5. If your plot is not covered by an approved PGOU, approval for development must be obtained from the Junta de Andalucia.

*  Information taken from Knowing the Law in Spain by Harry King ISBN 1 – 84528-059-8

The most important point to note here is that if your building plot is NOT designated as urbanized on an approved town plan (PGOU) or does not have the specific approval of the Junta de Andalucia…. all subsequent permissions or documents may not be issued. Indeed if they are issued, they can be open to challenge and revocation. This is the situation in which many of us find ourselves.

Purchase of a Development Dwelling in Spain – What you SHOULD have to protect you  **

  1. Bank guarantees or an insurance policy to protect payments made – in case the developer becomes insolvent or is unable to transfer the property within the stipulated period.
  2. Ten year buildings insurance policy against defects in the property.
  3. A building licence (licencia de obra or permiso de obra) from your town hall. If the building has been built without planning permission (and even with planning permission but not on urban land) the property is at risk of possible demolition or “land grab”.
  4. A copy of the architect’s project. This describes what has been built and in accordance with what criteria and elements.
  5. An end of works certificate from the architect (Certificado Final de la Direccion de la Obra), stating that the property was finished and when.
  6. A first occupation licence. This is issued by the Town Hall after its checks that the property has been built in accordance with the planning permission and the architect’s project. This is necessary to properly contract electricity and water.
  7. Installation bulletins for electricity and water. These bulletins are intended to show the electricity and water installations are in order, and are also needed to properly contract electricity and water.
  8. A title deed (escritura) in the names of the purchasers for the house and land. The deed should have been registered at the Spanish Land Registry. A private contract does not provide adequate protection – the property is at risk if such a title deed has not been executed.
  9. Proper infrastructure, including mains sewage, mains drainage, electricity, water, garbage collection, telephone, green areas, public services. If this does not exist, the property might not be urban and is at risk of being subject to the “land grab”.

The above is a general note only and the particular circumstances of the purchase need to be considered.


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