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Buyer Beware: How to Avoid the Pitfalls of Buying a Home in Spain

Problems while buying spanish house

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Buying a home in a holiday destination like Spain is a goal for many. The idea of owning your piece of Spain, whether it’s on the Balearics, touching the sunkissed beaches of Andalucia or in the center of bustling Madrid, is an exciting prospect and chance to enrich your life.

Yet property transactions, like anywhere unfamiliar, are tricky to understand and challenging to navigate without the right advice and guidance. With so many beautiful houses and villas for sale in Spain, buyers sometimes don’t spot problems that they would at home. This blog will help you know how to complete a real estate deal amid one of the most-common unforeseen difficulties: Hidden defects.

Buying a Home in Spain the Smart Way

There are always minor hiccups when buying a home. It can be connecting utilities, finalizing payments or even defects in the property. Usually, the latter is relatively minor and the buyer can solve it quickly and stress-free, but sometimes these problems can be significant and give the buyer the right to claim against the issue.

These defects are rarely flagged when searching for property for sale in Spain or highlighted by estate agents or realtors. They are often noticed by visual inspection or after buying the property. 

So if you feel that you have a potential case, it’s essential to understand the basics.

What are the hidden defects when I buy a home in Spain?

Transparency is king when it comes to handling hidden defects with Spanish property. However, they only apply in the sale of real estate and fall under the following categories and circumstances.

  • The seller hid defects in the property.
  • The defect makes it impossible to use the item as intended.
  • The defect is so severe that the buyer would not have purchased the property had they known about it before the sale.

To summarize, the defect must prevent the full use of property without rendering the property unusable. These defects are considered hidden because their existence was unknown at the time of sale, whether it was the seller’s omission or ignorance.

How can I Claim for Defects When Buying a Home in Spain?

Like anything you buy, issues can emerge after purchasing and selling a property. These can be all kinds of faults that impact the everyday use and enjoyment of the property. The most common ones include dampness, cracks, fissures, defects in the finishings, foundations, plumbing, heating or electrical problems.

However, once you’ve identified a hidden defect, what should you do, and how can you make a claim? Here we cover the basics. If the following sounds eerily familiar, we can support you in your claim with legal advice.

Withdrawing from Buying a Home in Spain

The first avenue for remedies is withdrawing from the sale and is known as “redhibitory action”. If there’s a hidden defect that causes the buyer to lose interest in purchasing the property, they can withdraw from the transaction. This route means that the seller returns all sums paid by the buyer and keeps the property.

The law foresees the payment of damages when the seller acts in bad faith by omitting relevant information about the property’s true condition.

Fixing the Hidden Defect After Buying a Home in Spain

If the buyer still wants to pursue the property purchase, they can ask the seller to make the repair or reduce the purchase price so that the buyer can make the repairs themselves. This approach removes any claim for additional compensation since the repair is, in effect, an agreed settlement.

When making a claim, there are two main time limits:

Six Months – when buying a second-hand or older home

Two Years – when purchasing a new build home

The timeframe starts when the purchaser takes legal possession of the property, which usually coincides with the act of sale. Beyond these time limits, there is occasionally the possibility to bring tort liability. However, this is almost always assessed on a case-by-case basis and is often unfeasible.

The Process for Making a Claim:

There are three main steps when claiming for the possible existence of hidden defects:

Get legal advice 

Before initiating any claim, it’s vital to get the right legal advice so that the purchaser can understand their legal rights and realistic outcomes. 

Technical assessment

Before commencing legal action, your lawyer should recommend an expert assessment of the property’s hidden defects. This expert will determine the origin of the flaws, whether they are hidden defects and the cost of repairing them. This is a crucial step as it will help determine if the defect existed before the time of purchase. Their assessment will be the primary basis for a possible legal claim.

Inform the seller

Therefore, our team of lawyers at Lexidy recommends contacting the seller to report the hidden defect. A lawyer will usually send a Burofax to convey the severity of the situation and the outcome of the technical valuation without embarking on legal action. The Burofax also serves as an official communication in case there is legal action later.

The purchaser must state the details of their complaint and what claim they are pursuing within this communication.

If the seller denies responsibility or fails to respond to the claim, the next step is legal action with a lawyer. Your legal counsel will bring a case before the Court of the judicial district where the property is located and the object to the sale.

It’s crucial to act procedurally but swiftly to follow the appropriate steps within the established legal deadlines. Therefore, we recommend contacting a legal specialist as soon as you become aware of any hidden defects within your chosen property.

At Lexidy LegalTech Boutique, we have extensive experience dealing with this type of dispute. We have specialized technical experts, and we will be happy to provide you with legal advice to resolve this kind of issue.

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