Finding the right property at the Costa del Sol is just half the battle - before you can move into your dream retirement home, you'll need to find a law firm that can deal with the purchase of your Marbella property in not just one, but two languages. If you've selected a well-established estate agency, they should be able to put you in touch with a multi-lingual law firm, or at least one where it is easy to arrange for all important documents to be translated so you know what you're signing!
However, if you'd rather get a few quotes of how much the whole process is going to cost from a list of recommended lawyers, here are a few suggestions who to contact. Each of these lawyers is a specialist in real estate, but can also advise you on taxation issues, residency permits and requirements, making a will to protect your assets abroad, and other issues involved in buying, selling and owning a property in Spain:Lawbird Legal Services SLP
Antonio Flores (Founder)
Gary Newsham (Business Development)
Edificio Alfil Floor 4
Ricardo Soriano, 19 – 4
Tel: 34 952 861 890
Fax: 34 952 861 695
Mob: 34 622 421 166
Pérez de Vargas Abogados
Ignacio Perez de Vargas (Urbanistic and Real Estate law)
Angeles Contreras (Real Estate specialist)
C/ Mª Auxiliadora, 2
Edificio Pata-Pata, 5º
Tel: 34 952 77 88 48
Fax: 34 952 82 51 59
Edificio Don Vicente, 3º
Tel: 34 952 801 431
Fax: 34 952 803 994
Cruz-Conde & Asociados
Mauro Cruz-Conde Lleó, Lawyer (Real Estate specialist)
Blvd. Príncipe Alfonso von Hohenlohe s/n
Hotel Marbella Club
Of. 7 – 8
Tel: 34 952 768 976
Fax: 34 952 864 996
Nielson Sanchez-Stewart, Lorenzo Sanchez-Stewart, Sebastian Sanchez-Stewart
C/Nuestra. Señora de Gracia, 1-1º
Tel 34 95 277 07 04
Fax 34 95 277 87 46
Tva. Carlos Mackintosh
Edificio Puerta del Mar
Tel 34 952 82 80 51
Fax 34 952 82 95 13
Palancos Bührlen Abogados
José Luis Palanco Bührlen
Avda. Ricardo Soriano, 22
Edificio Sabadell 2-6
Tel 34 952 766 055
Fax 34 952 857 376
Fontán Zubizarreta Abogados
Rafael Fontán Hernán de Zubizarreta
C/Jacinto Benavente, S/N
Edificio Mendisol, 3º C
Tel 34 952 821 728
Fax 34 952 824 571
When you have made an offer for a property and your agent has agreed between the two parties the commercial elements of the house-buying process, any one of the above-mentioned law firms will represent the interests of their clients in a way that will make the process as "risk free" as possible. They will perform a "due diligence" of all the various elements involved concerning the legality, past and future ownership of the property. Only when the due diligence process has been completed will they prepare, together with the lawyer acting for the other party, a contract that will fairly set out the commercial agreements the two parties have reached. At the same time, they will incorporate all possible and reasonable safeguards within the contract itself.
Over the last couple of years Spanish tax authorities have had a crack down on tax avoidance with regard to residential real estate ownership. In Marbella resident home owners can avail themselves of regular seminars held on taxation matters. These taxation seminars are held by local specialist lawyers such as Pedro Fernández. He studied in London before embarking on a career that would see him closely linked to the foreign resident community living on the Costa del Sol.
Pedro Fernández regularly runs Expat Tax Seminars in Marbella, which explain the tax system in Spain and how this system treats residents from abroad in matters of real estate and financial assets. Admission is free. Seminars are typically held at Home Fair, Palacio de Ferias y Congresos, Marbella, so look out for them, if you are about to purchase or sell a property in Marbella.
“I've always been dealing with the same kind of issues - how foreign people who have settled here can structure their affairs to comply with Spanish legislation,” Fernández said in a recent interview with expat magazine SUR in English.
He stressed that in an ideal world people "pay what they have to pay according to the law, but no more".
Having worked for one of the world's "big five" accountancy firms, Arthur Andersen, and gained a wealth of international experience, Fernández now specializes in tax law and international taxation, plus all the cross border issues that can arise when a person relocates from one country to another.
"You need to understand how institutions created in (people's) home countries behave under the Spanish tax system,” said Pedro Fernández in the interview, pointing to pension schemes, investment plans and a particular investment vehicle favoured by Brits, namely trusts.
"When we deal with Brits in particular there's always a trust involved, an institution which is very widely used in the UK but not known in Spain,” he said to give an example of cross-border differences.
Fernández remained with the organisation after Arthur Andersen first merged with, and was later absorbed by, the leading Spanish law firm Garrigues. After working with international investors and foreign residents for the past 25 years, he believes that the foreign community is one of Malaga province's most valuable assets.
"I've always thought a smooth and proper integration of the foreign community is essential for the economy of the province. This is beyond any doubt the most valuable asset that we have here compared with other areas of Spain and Andalucía. The minute we are able to integrate the foreign community here and they have legal certainty to invest in our companies, in our systems, to be part of our community, this area will no doubt become the third in Spain in terms of economic power after Madrid and Barcelona," he explained.
Pedro Fernández was promoted to Associate at Garrigues in 1997 and to Partner in 2003. At his seminars he summarises how Spain treats foreign residents settling on the Costa del Sol and what happens when they are likely to be considered fully tax resident in Marbella and thus liable to report their worldwide income.