Once you have chosen a home and agreed on a price with its owner or an intermediary, you should proceed as follows:

1. Request the following documentation:

  1. A photocopy of the property deed (Escriptura de la propietat), the most recent nota simple report from the property registry and the property register (Cadastre) number.

  2. The certificate of habitability.

  3. The association statutes (if applicable) and a summary of the most recent meeting of the board of owners.

  4. Details of the total price of the home and the methods of payment and general conditions applicable.

  5. Details of the mortgage to be taken over, if applicable.

  6. The most recent property tax receipt.

  7. An ownership and charges certificate guaranteeing that there are no outstanding debts on the property.

  8. A photocopy of the owner's ID document (DNI).

2. Reserve the apartment. There are 3 ways to do so:

  1. A returnable deposit (Paga i senyal): this is a relatively small sum of money (around 3,000 euros) that is paid to the agency or the owner to temporarily reserve the home. This step is not essential, but you can take it if you want to negotiate a reduction in the selling price. If no agreement is eventually reached, your deposit will be returned.

  2. A type of down payment for which the term arres is used in Catalan (a Contracte d'arres is a down payment agreement): this is a sum of money equivalent to 10% of the total price of the apartment and which is handed over to reserve the right to buy the property. The money is paid upon the signature of a down payment agreement, which contains certain negotiable clauses. If you are not sure that the bank will provide you with a mortgage, it is a good idea to include a clause making obtaining a mortgage a condition for buying the apartment. By doing so, you will avoid losing your down payment.

  3. A private contract of sale (Contracte privat de compravenda) : this is an agreement in which the buyer and the seller both promise to complete the sale of the property, and which normally involves a payment of 10% of the value of the home. It is necessary to go to court if either the buyer or the seller does not keep their side of the agreement.


A contract of sale is a document through which the sale of an object or a property is made official. A down payment agreement is an “associated agreement” established before a sale takes place. It normally involves the future buyer paying the seller a sum of money linked to the sale to be completed.

In legal terms, down payment agreements are a little complicated. It is not advisable to try to take advantage of such agreements, one of the reasons being that doing so can cause misunderstandings and arguments that end up in court.

Only one kind of down payment agreement is covered by the Spanish Civil Code, but jurisprudence (the decisions made by courts) recognises THREE different types of arres (it is therefore necessary to examine the content of such agreements very carefully):

  1. Arres confirmatòries. A literal translation would be ‘confirmatory down payment'. Such down payments are made as a sign of intent to enter into a contract of sale in the future, and neither the buyer or seller may change their mind or cancel the down payment agreement. In such cases, the sum of money handed over is considered to be an advance on or part of the agreed selling price.

  2. Arres penals. A literal translation would be ‘penal down payment'. Such down payments are made to guarantee fulfilment of an agreement. The buyer will lose their down payment if they do not keep their side of the agreement. If it is the seller who cancels the agreement, they must return twice the amount of the down payment.

  3. Arres penitencials. A literal translation would be ‘penitential down payment'. This is the type of down payment covered by the Civil Code, and one that makes it possible to withdraw from an agreement. If the buyer withdraws, they will lose their down payment. If it is the seller who withdraws, they must return twice the amount of the down payment.

3.  Apply for a mortgage. Once you have provided the documentation requested by the bank (identity document, wage slips, income tax return, down payment agreement, property tax documents), you will be asked for a valuation report, on the basis of which the bank will make you an offer. You will be given 10 days to study the offer and decide whether or not to accept it. If you accept the bank's conditions, you will be invited to its premises, along with a notary and the owner, where the sale transaction will take place and the public deed will be signed. The apartment will then be yours.