SECOND-HAND HOMES

HABITATGE DE SEGONA MÀ

Before buying a second-hand home, you should make sure that it is in good condition and will not cause you problems in the future.

Steps to take before agreeing to a purchase:

  • Check the legal status of the home you are interested in at the property registry (Registre de la Propietat); see  www.registradores.org of your town or city.

  • Ask for a property registry report called a Nota simple in Catalan, which is a kind of biography of an apartment. It describes the property and tells you the year in which it was built, whether it is unencumbered (Lliure de càrregues) and whether it is subject to servitudes (Servituds) or obligations.

  • Ask for a report called a nota marginal in Catalan, which describes a property's status in relation to banks, including outstanding mortgage payments, debts for which it is being used as a guarantee and other encumbrances that you will need to negotiate with the owner before buying the home.

  • Latent defects (Vicis ocults) : the owner must certify, in writing, that the apartment does not have any latent defects (i.e. faults that are not initially evident and which could affect the property's structure).

  • Association statutes (Estatuts de la comunitat): before finalising the purchase of an apartment, ask the owner or the estate manager for a copy of the statutes of its residents' association (some buildings do not have such statutes).

  • Minutes of the meetings of the board of owners (Actes de les juntes de propietaris) of the building: these documents must be provided by the estate manager. They show the topics discussed at the most recent meetings of owners and will enable you to find out if, for example, they have decided to install a lift, apportion an expense or fix the rooftop terrace, all of which involve extra costs. Minutes of meetings will also indicate the amount that each resident pays to cover association expenses.

  • Property tax: ask the owner for their most recent property tax receipt to check the amount you will have to pay each year and to make sure there are no outstanding payments to be made.

  • Payments to the association: ask the estate manager for the most recent receipts for the payments that the owner has made to the association to be sure that there are no sums still to be paid.

If you decide to buy a home without borrowing money from a bank, it is a good idea to pay an independent expert who is familiar with the property sector (such as a qualified architect) to examine the apartment you are hoping to buy and to tell you whether the selling price is appropriate. Such an examination may cost around 150-200 euros, but it is highly recommendable. Spending that amount could save you a lot more money in the long term.

The Guild of Master Builders and Technical Architects of Barcelona (www.apabcn.cat) offers citizens a service through which professionals are assigned to examine properties. There are also charities or social organisations that offer highly reliable advice on the same matters.