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We have received many enquiries recently asking us for the name of an honest and reliable solicitor, based on the Costa del Sol, who we could recommend to others. As per the norm with our website, we only recommend companies who we have had personal dealings with and who provide a quality and reliable service.

During our battle to purchase our apartment from Aifos it became necessary to "dump" one solicitor, who by the way was totally useless, and hire the services of another. This new solicitor sorted out all the problems we had with Aifos, within 3 weeks, and boy did we have problems. It is for this reason and many others that we can recommend Arturo Pérez González of Legal Independence.

or at:arturo.perez@martinezechevarria.com


Why do you need a solicitor

Buying property is a messy and complicated business, and not just in Spain. Anyone who has ever bought or sold property in Europe can wearily confirm that there are many issues to keep you awake at night, and solicitors have to be used by both parties to ensure that their interests are protected in law. It is no different in Spain where you run a similar set of risks as a buyer.

For example when you buy a resale property in Spain you have to check that the vendor's claim to the property is genuine and confirm that the property corresponds to the details in the title deeds. And that is just for start. Every property is unique and there may be many other legal checks to carry out covering issues as diverse as building permits and water rights before you can proceed to signing contracts and making payments with any safety.

When purchasing from a developer, especially off-plan, the input of a real estate solicitor in Spain is also essential if you wish to minimise the chances of an unpleasant shock. All you have when you commit to the purchase and make your first payment are a few pieces of plus and a signed contract between you and the developer. Unless the contract you sign nails down the developer to delivering a clearly specified property, with all the necessary licences and guarantees, and more or less in the time frame agreed, you run all sorts of risks. Only a qualified  Spanish solicitor working for your interests can give you this security.

So whatever type of Spanish property you buy, always use a solicitor in Spain. Note that many estate agents claim you don't need a Spanish solicitor  and that the Notary will give you all the legal protection you need. It is true that you can buy a property in Spain without using a Spanish Lawyer but it this would be very unwise on your part. Estate agents making this claim have their own reasons for saying this, none of which have anything to do with looking after your interests.

Only an independent Spanish solicitor will do

Very few British buyers have a Spanish solicitor in their address book when they set out to buy property in Spain. So it should come as no surprise that many of them end up using the solicitor recommended by the estate agents or developers they buy from. Surveys reveal that 63% of British buyers end up using the lawyer recommended to them by their estate agent. Of these 20% report being very dissatisfied with the legal service they receive, compared to just 2% who use a solicitor that they have found themselves.

Another reason why the majority of foreign buyers of Spanish property end up using a lawyer recommended by their estate agents is because they tend to buy in such a hurry. People on 2 or 3-day Spanish property inspection trips are usually unprepared for the buying procedure and end up signing contracts and paying reserve deposits on the last day before rushing to the airport. They simply don't have time to find a lawyer for themselves and feel grateful when the estate agent suggests a 'very good' lawyer who can help them, indeed who is waiting to receive them at that very moment - what a surprise. However buyers who use these lawyers don't realise what a minefield they are walking into, and end up hiring the very lawyers they most need protection from.

The fact of the matter is that using a solicitor recommended by an estate agent or, what is worse, the agent's in-house lawyer, you should try to avoid. Estate agents are highly motivated to close sales that pay commissions and unscrupulous agents recommend lawyers who will facilitate this outcome. Buyers can be lulled into a false sense of security whilst the recommended lawyers do nothing more than oil the wheels of the transaction on the estate agent's behalf. The buyer's need for security of purchase can become irrelevant in this equation.

More commonly, though, estate agents in Spain recommended lawyers that appear to be completely independent from the estate agent. In many cases the independence will be genuine and the recommended lawyer will look after the buyer's interests. However in too many cases the lawyers have a dependent business relationship with the estate agents that can undermine the legal service received by the buyer. Note that many lawyers have to pay estate agents a part of the fees they receive in return for introducing clients.

When buying something as expensive as property in a foreign country you need a lawyer who you can be certain is working for you and you alone. Looking for an independent lawyer once a dispute has started is like closing the stable door after the horse has bolted. You need your own lawyer from the very start.

So what are you waiting for, if you wish to hire the services of a solicitor on the Costa del Sol, then contact Arturo Pérez González, as soon as possible, see paragraphs 3 and 4 above, and hire yourself a totally reliable and independent solicitor!

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