You are selling your property in Spain, and your estate agent has just given you the good news that they have found a buyer for it. You have appointed a lawyer to represent you in the sale and he has asked you for a copy of the title deeds….and you have no idea of where they are! You think that maybe the bank might be holding them because you bought your property with a mortgage…
Does this sound familiar? It certainly does to me!
If you are in this situation, the first thing that I can tell you is that there is no reason to panic. In Spain, title deeds are important documents because they are the only valid document, with a few exceptions, to change the ownership of a property in the Land Registry. But this means that once your property was registered in the Land Registry, you will NOT need to produce your original title deeds to sell your property.
However, at least a COPY will be necessary, because in order to draft the private purchase contract, the sale deeds, and finally to calculate and declare your taxes, we will need the information contained in your title deeds, where we can find essential details such as the purchase date and the purchase price.
Ok, now we know it’s not the end of the world that we don’t have a clue where the original title deeds are, and that a copy will be enough, where can you find them?
There are three possible places to find a copy of your title deeds:
- If you used a lawyer when you bought the property, that is where your search should begin.
- If you bought with a mortgage, the bank might have kept a copy of the title deeds, and sometimes even the original, although they don’t have any legal right to keep it.
- Finally, remember that Notaries in Spain always keep the original document with the authentic signature of all parties involved, so they can always issue a copy on request to any of the interested parties. The problem here is that most of the property owners don’t remember the name of the Notary that they used when they bought the property. This information sometimes appears on the “Nota Simple” (Land Registry extract) that you or your lawyer can obtain from the Land Registry. The “Nota Simple ” is a summary of the legal situation of the property that shows the description of the property, the name of the owners, the possible charges …and sometimes the details of the title deeds whereby you acquired title to your property. It also includes the name of the Notary, date of the signing, and in very few cases, even the number of the document (“protocolo”). With this information, it will be very easy to obtain a copy of your title deeds even if they were signed many years ago and the notary may have retired or even passed away.
Finally, a piece of advice: the moment to start searching for your title deeds is when you decide to put your property up for sale, better than when your estate agent phones you to say that he has found a buyer who wants to complete the purchase as quickly as possible!