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Although the essence of buying new property in Marbella is the same as purchasing a resale home, there are some important differences. These lie in the process but mostly in the checks necessary before you commit to buy. In this guide to Buying New Property in Marbella, we look at the benefits of buying off plan and what you need to safeguard during the procedure.
Why buy new property in Marbella?
Visitors to the western Costa del Sol will have noticed a flurry of construction activity over the last few years. New development is particularly intense in the so-called Golden Triangle around Estepona, Benahavís and Marbella as well as in La Cala de Mijas.
Off-plan properties compliment the resale market and offer the following advantages:
Better prices – on paper, a newly-built home is more expensive than a resale property. But when you factor in the quality (see below) and size, the square metre price works out as better value.
Better quality – new construction includes the latest technology in materials, finishes and building technique. As a result, you get a much higher quality property.
Better energy efficiency – resale homes on the Costa del Sol have notoriously poor energy efficiency. When it comes to new property, the exact opposite is true. Expect the highest energy efficiency in both individual homes and in communal areas.
Blank slate – a new property gives you the chance to create a home you want because you can, for example, choose the bathroom and kitchen finishes, the flooring and even in some cases, the distribution.
Zero refurbs – finding a resale home that needs nothing doing to it to fit your tastes or your needs is virtually impossible. New properties, however, require zero refurbishment since they’re brand new.
Move-in or rental ready – because new properties need no work, you can move in straight away with no disruption from refurbishment. Or if you plan to holiday let, the property is rental ready from day one.
Did you know? We have a prime selection of the best new developments on the Costa del Sol. Check out our list and choose yours.
Viewing the property
You first need to find the new property to suit you. The best developments have comprehensive websites with photographs and videos of the properties and communal areas.
They should also provide downloadable brochures about the development, separate documents listing the finishes and fittings (construction materials, flooring, appliances, etc) and detailed plans of each type of property and its layout.
Most developments have a show home on site that you can visit to get a real idea of what the finished properties will look like. Check the exterior too especially the views you can expect. If there’s an empty plot of land next door, find out what will be built on it.
Did you know? You should keep all documentation you receive from the developer as proof of what you were offered.
Before you sign the contract
As with all property purchases in Spain, buying a new home requires certain checks before you sign the purchase contract. The most important are planning permissions and the bank guarantee. Your lawyer should verify both before the contract stage.
During the early 2000s property bubble, some developments in Spain were built without the necessary building licences in place. This resulted in illegal property and meant that buyers were in the impossible position of being unable to register their new home.
Fortunately, new laws in place since then mean that it’s highly unlikely that the same situation could arise now. However, your lawyer should check that your chosen new property has the correct planning permission, not least because without it you won’t get a bank guarantee or the first occupation licence.
This is one of the fundamental pillars of consumer protection when buying new property in Marbella. A bank guarantee protects your deposit and part-payments should the developer go bust or fail to complete construction.
Under new legislation introduced in 2015, a developer can only offer a bank guarantee if the project has the correct building licences in place. Having checked the planning permission documentation, your lawyer will be able to ascertain the legality of the bank guarantee.
Did you know? Your bank guarantee expires two years after the termination of the contract if you do not file a claim against the developer.
Agreeing the price
Once your lawyer is happy that the licences and guarantee are correct and in place, you have the go-ahead to talk about the price. Depending on demand for a particular development, you may be able to get substantial discounts off the list price. Or negotiate higher quality fittings and finishes, for example.
Ask your estate agent to give you the head’s up on the development’s situation so that you know whether it’s worth offering a lower price. Find out more about negotiating prices when buying new property in Marbella.
Once you’ve checked and dealt with the fundamentals, the contract comes into play. This is a vital document and your lawyer should negotiate the best possible terms for you.
The contract should include the following clauses:
The timeline of the purchase – this includes a completion date with margin for delay. Ask your lawyer to negotiate for the shortest possible agreed delay, for example, a maximum of three months beyond the projected date of construction completion.
The payment schedule – this will lay out your part-payments, their amount and date due.
Rights and obligations – for both buyer (you) and seller (the developer). Your lawyer should negotiate the removal of clauses clearly in the developer’s favour or at least, a softening of them.
What’s included – make sure that everything you agreed with the developer is laid down in this clause. For example, if the price includes kitchen appliances or air-conditioning units, the clause should say so.
Snagging clause – another vital part of the contract because it gives you the right to inspect the property before you buy and demand that any defects and faults are corrected. You should not complete on the purchase until they are (see Snagging report below).
Did you know? We have comprehensive guides to areas on the western Costa del Sol. They offer unique insight into neighbourhoods and resorts to allow you to decide which one is right for you.
When you sign the purchase contract, you also pay the deposit. This is usually 10% of the purchase price. Make sure the deposit and any part payments you make before completion are covered by the developer’s bank guarantee.
After signing the contract, building work continues and you make part payments. Your new home should be completed within the agreed timeline. But before you sign on the dotted line, bear in mind the following:
Once the property is finished, you have the right to inspect it. If you’re unable to do the inspection yourself, get a surveyor to carry out a snagging report on your behalf. The developer is then obliged to correct all the defects listed in the report and complete the property as agreed.
Did you know? Make sure the property is 100% as it should be before you complete the purchase – it can be difficult to get the developer to respond once you have signed and paid the full amount.
First occupation licence
Known as the licencia de primera ocupación in Spanish, this is a vital document when buying new property in Marbella. The local council issues the licence, which certifies that the development and your property comply with all necessary planning regulations.
Without this licence, your new home is not legal. You also cannot contract any utility supplies or register your property as a holiday let, for example.
Completion at the notary
If your home is finished to the agreed standards, defect-free and has the first occupation licence, it’s time to complete the purchase. This is done at a notary public when you, the buyer, pay the outstanding amount on the property and the developer gives you the keys to your new home.
Fees and taxes
As a buyer, you’re liable for certain fees and taxes when you buy off-plan property on the Costa del Sol. They include:
- VAT – levied at 10% of the purchase price, this is the largest tax involved in buying a new home.
- Stamp duty – in Andalusia, this tax has a flat rate of 1.5% on new properties.
- Notary and Registry Office fees – the buyer is usually liable for these, which depend on the price of the property.
Let us find your dream home in Marbella
If you’re looking for a new home in Marbella or surrounded area, get in touch. We have the most comprehensive listings in the area plus years of experience in the local market. This means we can help you find the perfect off-plan property for you. Contact us now.