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What should I ask the seller when buying my home?

Questions and doubts when it comes to buying a house

Thinking of buying a house? Are you planning to apply for a mortgage to finance your dream of having your own home?

That's great news, but be sure think about it calmly and find out everything you need to know taking the plunge. After all, it is a huge financial commitment that will be with us for many years to come. It is completely normal for us to have a lot of questions and doubts when choosing our home and we are here to answer them for you:

Although these questions and doubts will vary depending on the type of property we are planning to buy (whether it is second-hand or new; whether it is a flat or a house that we are looking to buy from a private individual, a housing cooperative, or directly from a developer), here are some key questions we should always ask. 

What questions should I ask the seller of a property before buying it?

  • Does this property come with any liens or encumbrances? To find out if the property has a mortgage, attachment or charge against it for non-payment of property tax or any other type of encumbrance, it is best to ask for what is known in Spain as a nota simple from the Land Registry (Registro de la Propiedad). We are going to need it anyway as both the bank and the notary will ask for it down the line.
  • Is it rented? This question is important because if it is rented, the seller will have to inform us when the contract will end and if the tenant has the right to extend.
  • How much usable space? What we mean here is the metres we can actually use in a flat or house, which will give us an idea of the space we will be living in; partition walls, pillars, falsework, etc. do not count. It is important not to confuse this net floor area with the gross floor area, which does include this kind of non-usable space.
  • What kind of state is the property in? To avoid nasty surprises down the line, it is important to find out the condition of the plumbing, electricity and downpipes. If we lack sufficient knowledge of such matters, it is wise to bring in a technician or architect to advise us.
  • Can we undertake any reform or construction project to expand the floor area? Usually the seller will not be able to answer this question, making it a good idea to consult a specialist. Building rights, occupancy, setbacks and planning permission are all important aspects that need to be taken into account.
  • Does the property have an Energy Performance Certificate? Although it is now mandatory, the seller may not yet have one. We will need to request a certificate before buying the property, as it will give us a better idea of the building's energy performance.
  • Has it passed the ITEE or does it have an IEE? As you might know already, the Technical Building Inspection (Inspección Técnica de Edificios, or ITE for short) is a review carried out on homes to determine the condition they are in. Meanwhile, the Building Assessment Report (Informe de Evaluación de Edificio, or IEE or short) appraises other aspects of the building, such as health and safety, accessibility and energy performance.
  • Both reports must be drawn up from time to time, although the frequency varies by local council. We can check the website of our local council to find out when the property we are looking to buy will next require these reports.
  • What is the neighbourhood like? Even if we have a rough idea, it is wise to make sure that it is well communicated. Other important aspects to check are whether it comes with parking, or whether the street sees a lot of traffic, whether there are essential services nearby, or whether the street is noisy.

What questions should I ask the seller about the costs of the house before I buy?

  • How much will I be paying in community charges? This is an important question to ask when buying a home, as it can vary hugely between properties. These expenses are based on the square metres of our home, though also on the number of people living in the same apartment building. We will need to find out what they are exactly and what they include (porter, heating, electricity, etc.), whether any construction, refurbishment or maintenance work has been planned or approved, and whether the property is current with its payments. The building administrator will be able to answer all these questions.
  • Are there any unpaid taxes? Both the nota simple and the property tax report will give us the answer we need. Be sure to ask for proof of payment from the seller.


Variable-rate mortgage

The classic mortgage but with Bankinter terms and conditions.
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Fixed-rate mortgage

The mortgage with no surprises: fixed instalments for the entire term of your loan.
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