Real Estate Scams in Spain: How to Avoid Them

Unfortunately, scams are becoming ever more present in the Real Estate market in Spain, especially amongst the expat community Always take caution when house-hunting, and take into consideration the following before beginning your search for your dream Spanish casa. 

Research Extensively

Before diving into any real estate transaction, thorough research is paramount. Familiarise yourself with the local property market, legal procedures, and common practices in Spain. Utilise reputable online platforms and gather information about the specific region where you plan to invest.

Verify Property Ownership and Legal Status

One common Real Estate scam in Spain involves fraudsters posing as property owners or agents, selling properties they don’t actually own. Ensure that the person selling the property has legal ownership rights. We recommend that you obtain the necessary documents from the local land registry to confirm the property’s legal status, and verify the seller’s identity through official channels.

Visit the Property in Person

It is incredibly important to see the place where you’re going to live. First, Scammers can use photos of properties that are entirely different to the one that is actually on offer. In addition, seeing the property in person allows you to evaluate the actual condition of the property. If you cannot get to the property personally, we always recommend having someone acting on your behalf (a legal representative or a trusted individual) to check out the property. 

If the owner makes an excuse to not show the flat, beware as it may be a fraudulent listing. Scammers will often make excuses including that they’re currently out of town, or even out of the country. Meeting face-to-face is essential. That being said, not everyone is a scammer, and there are many genuine sellers. In the genuine case that a seller or landlord is not able to show the property in-person, we recommend ensuring that photos are included in your contract should any problems arise later. 

If it’s too good to be true, it’s too good to be true 

When it seems like costs are skyrocketing, we’re all on the hunt for a good deal. However, the place where you live perhaps should not follow this same philosophy. Real Estate Scams in Spain will capitalise on bargain hunters, often presenting a modern and luxurious home at a price that is incredibly reasonable; Not too cheap as to create suspicion, but low enough to intrigue you. To avoid scams, compare property prices in the area to ensure that the deal aligns with market trends. If the price seems significantly lower than average, proceed with caution and investigate thoroughly.

Avoid the Hype and Advance Payments

Many times, Real Estate scams in Spain will take place on trusted platforms. The Spanish property market is a hot one, and competition for properties is often fierce. While reputable real estate agents will often pressure you to make a quick move on a property you love, scammers will do the same. A commonly reported scam tactic is when an owner says that the property in question is very popular and it will go quickly, and therefore you need to pay a hefty down payment to secure your place. The caveat here is that they simultaneously tell a large group of people the same thing, collect a massive amount of money, and then disappear without a trace. 

Unfortunately, Real Estate scams in Spain prey on the reality of the Spanish property market, as rentals and sales usually go very quickly, with a high level of competition. Always exercise caution, and only move ahead once you feel entirely confident and that you trust the seller or renter entirely.  Legitimate sellers typically follow a transparent payment process that aligns with legal requirements. If a seller pressures you to make significant payments before signing contracts or completing due diligence, consider it a red flag.

Seek Professional Guidance

Engaging the services of a reputable lawyer can be very helpful when navigating the Spanish real estate market. However, it is important to note that this is not required.

 At Just Law Solicitors we offer a Rental Review Service which includes a consultation with an English-speaking lawyer. We will:

  • Obtain the legal documents relating to the owner of the property
  • Check that the legal clauses of the contract are in accordance with current Spanish law
  • Negotiate with the landlord/agent if we’re not satisfied with the legal standing of the contract
  • Where applicable, check if your rent is subject to a legal maximum or part of an ‘area tensionada’