One of the first things people should know when buying a property in Spain is how long it will take before they can take ownership. There are no laws in place regulating the time between signing a private contract (called contrato privado de compraventa), paying a deposit, usually 10%, and completing the sale at the notary’s office, however, it does depend on how complex the purchase is.

The private contract, the document signed by both parties and including a deposit paid by the buyer, usually states a time limit for completion. This completion date is agreed by both parties and based on the type of purchase and the buyer’s and seller’s preferences.

In general, timescales for buying a house or property in Spain varies but in general, they are as follows:

3 to 4 weeks: for straightforward purchases, i.e. properties with no debts, all paperwork in order and financing already in place.

4 to 8 weeks: for slightly more complex purchases where, for example, an architect’s certificate is required or the buyer needs to obtain a mortgage. Spanish properties purchased from banks tend to fall into this category too.

Over 8 weeks: for those purchases where there are problems or time-consuming bureaucratic processes – for example, the property isn’t properly registered or the property forms part of inheritance or divorce proceedings.

In our experience, the completion of a property sale typically takes place between 4-6 weeks after the private contract is signed but of course, the buyer and seller can agree to a longer time if needed.

When making a large purchase such as a luxury villa in Marbella or really any property purchase of any significant sum, you should always use the services of a recommended lawyer who specialises in property law/transfers and a reliable and honest real estate agent. Buying a house in Spain might seem like a daunting process, but with access to the right professionals the process can be easier.