Tenerife Property Purchases – Why should I use a Solicitor?

11/09/2008 @ 12:07

Most of us wouldn’t dream of buying a property in the U.K. without instructing a qualified Solicitor. So why do so many people buying a property in Tenerife throw caution to the wind and risk losing their deposit, or worse still, their entire life savings?

My estate agent tells me I don’t need a lawyer

Sadly, there is still a minority of Estate Agents who try to discourage buyers from using a solicitor. Perhaps that agent believes he is legally qualified to spot absolutely any problem that may arise during the transaction. Perhaps he is worried that a solicitor might spot a problem causing the buyer to pull out.

Either way, reputable Estate Agents will always refer clients to an independent lawyer because the agent has a potential conflict of interests in representing the buyer in the conveyancing transaction. After all, the agent works for the SELLER. It is the seller that instructs the agent, and it is the seller who pays the agent once the property is sold. If the seller is not happy at the end of the day or the sale does not go through, the agent does not get paid. Clearly, the seller will not be happy if the buyer is alerted to any matter that may cause them to pull out of the purchase.

I’ve heard that Spanish transactions aren’t that complicated

The truth is that Spanish property transactions are just as complicated as those in the U.K, or perhaps more complicated due to the language and cultural barriers. The difference in perception is that only Solicitors or Licensed Conveyancers can handle transactions in the U.K, whereas in Spain, the transaction can be handled by anyone, including gestors, administrators, ex-lawyers, estate-agents, bar-owners, the lady who cleans your apartment etc.

The truth is that there are a multitude of things that can go wrong. Perhaps there will be a problem with the seller’s title, a dispute with the developer, problems concerning the lack of bank guarantees, missing town-hall documentation or perhaps incorrect details of the plot or apartment number written into the contract.

A qualified Solicitor is trained to spot any problem that might arise in the transaction and impartially report that problem to the client or take steps to resolve the problem.
Most importantly of all, Solicitors are required to comply with stringent professional regulations and to carry professional indemnity insurance to protect clients when things go wrong.

Typical Solicitor’s fees for handling a property purchase range from €1,500 – €2,500, equating to approximately 0.6% – 1% of a typical property price. Compared to the 5% commission typically charged by the estate agent, what price do you put on peace of mind?