Purchasing property in Marbella may seem as easy as saying, ‘I want to buy a house.’ However, in reality, the process entails more than simply finding and purchasing a property of your choice. To assist those considering property acquisition in Marbella, we’ve crafted a comprehensive guide to streamline the purchasing journey.

Research Well When Planning to Buy a Property in Marbella

When investing in property, thorough research and preparation are essential for a successful start. This holds especially true when navigating the real estate market in Marbella, where the first crucial step is finding the right real estate agent.

The internet plays a pivotal role in this process, serving as a valuable tool for individuals, particularly those residing abroad, interested in purchasing property or relocating to Marbella. Online research enables you to explore available properties in advance, providing valuable insights into the market.

In Marbella’s real estate landscape, properties are openly accessible to most real estate companies for marketing and sale, thanks to a shared database among firms. With numerous real estate companies and agents operating in Marbella collaboratively, prospective buyers have a diverse range of options to consider when selecting an agent.

It’s advisable to approach multiple firms or agents initially, keeping an open mind during the research phase. While this approach offers a broader selection, ultimately, narrowing down your choices to one is crucial. Establishing trust and confidence in your chosen agent, who is able to be objective with you, is paramount for a smooth property transaction.

At Optimum Marbella, we pride ourselves on a small team who foster strong relationships with clients, both buyers and sellers, and who offer an in-depth knowledge of the industry. We encourage clients to carefully consider their options before making a final decision, ensuring they feel comfortable entrusting us with their property aspirations.

Why you should use a Real Estate Agent

Despite the accessibility of the Internet around the clock, some individuals may mistakenly believe that researching and purchasing a property in Marbella independently is a straightforward task, rendering the need for a real estate agent unnecessary. However, this is a significant misconception, as the role of a real estate agent is invaluable and should not be underestimated.

  • A good agents job is to conduct thorough searches and streamline your home search process, alleviating you from this burden. Additionally, an agent serves as a critical eye, pointing out details and potential issues that you might overlook in your enthusiasm for a property.
  • An agent provides valuable insights into the investment potential of a property and serves as a knowledgeable guide to the area, offering essential information about the locality.
  • Your agent leverages their extensive network to connect you with trusted service providers and contractors, saving you considerable time and effort in research.
  • Most importantly, a skilled negotiator, your real estate agent advocates for your interests throughout the negotiation process, ensuring that you secure the best possible deal.

Organising Your Property Viewings in Marbella

Now that you’ve taken the time to plan ahead, it’s time to arrange your journey to Marbella. If you find yourself needing to plan while already in Marbella, the next step is simply to schedule your property tours. Here are 7 helpful tips for organizing your property viewings:

1. It’s always wise to plan ahead and work closely with your agent to have a pre-selection of properties you’re interested in before your visit.

2. Your chosen real estate firm and agent is your first contact to assist you, allow them to coordinate multiple viewings scheduled throughout the day. Their efficient approach familiarizes you with the market while minimizing time spent.

3. Limit your property viewings to around five per day to avoid feeling overwhelmed and maintain clarity in your decision-making. However, if your trip is short, consider expanding to up to 10 properties on your designated tour day.

4. Take the time to explore the surrounding area during your visits. Understanding the neighborhood’s amenities and characteristics is crucial in addition to liking the property itself. Whether it’s proximity to the beach, access to schools, or noise levels, drive around the area to get a comprehensive sense of location.

5. For a more comprehensive understanding, ask your agent to organise a second visit to the properties you’re interested in during the evening. The ambiance and surroundings can significantly influence your perception of a property.

6. Be candid with your opinions during viewings. Express what you like and dislike about each property to help solidify your preferences and enable your agent to adjust accordingly. Transparency with your agent fosters better understanding and tailored recommendations.

7. Be flexible and prepared for adjustments in your viewing schedule. Despite thorough planning, preferences may change upon seeing properties in person. Choose your agent wisely, as their adaptability and responsiveness are key in promptly accommodating any shifts in your criteria.

By following these tips and working closely with your agent, you can efficiently navigate property viewings in Marbella and make informed decisions that align with your preferences and requirements.

Plan Ahead when Purchasing Property in Marbella

Before proceeding further, it’s essential to emphasize the importance of having all your documentation prepared before or during your trip to Marbella. This proactive approach ensures a smoother and less time-consuming process, alleviating potential financial strains.

Once you’ve conducted your online research on companies and agents, you’re ready to plan your trip to Marbella and organize your credentials beforehand. It’s worth noting that Spain places significant emphasis on paperwork, so ensuring all necessary documentation is in order before property viewings can save time and hassle down the line.

While there are no specific restrictions for foreign non-residents purchasing property in Spain, certain prerequisites must be met before commencing the buying process:


An N.I.E Number (Número de Identidad Extranjero) is a sequential identification number assigned to foreigners, essential for various purposes in Spain, including opening a bank account, obtaining a Spanish phone number, or working/studying.

If planning from abroad, you can apply for an N.I.E via a Spanish Consulate. If already in Spain, application can be made in person at the Police Station or through a legal administrator (known as a “gestor” in Spanish).

In Andalucía, the documentation required for N.I.E application includes:

● For European Passport holders: presentation of the main identification page with a photocopy.
● For all other passports: presentation of the full passport with photocopies of all pages, two ID photos, and two completed and signed copies of the Ex-15 application form.
● A valid reason for needing an N.I.E (e.g., work, property purchase, etc.).


Once you have obtained your N.I.E, you can proceed to apply for a Spanish bank account. It’s advisable to explore banks catering to foreigners, such as Sabadell, CaixaBank, Santander, and Bankinter. Notably, physical presence at a bank branch is typically required to open an account.

Additional requirements for opening an account include:

● Proof of identity (e.g., passport or ID card) presented in person.
● N.I.E.
● Proof of Funds / Tax Declarations
● Any other documents deemed necessary by the bank

Some banks may also require proof of address and a certificate of non-residency, which can be obtained from a Spanish police station.

When selecting a bank, consider their fees for receiving and sending transfers abroad and issuing banker’s drafts, as these are standard forms of payment in property transactions in Spain.

It’s crucial to mention that lacking the correct paperwork in advance can lead to missed opportunities, as observed in our experience. Therefore, we strongly advise individuals to ensure their legal, financial, and fiscal statuses are in order before viewing properties in Marbella.


There are various advantages and disadvantages to consider on both sides of this debate, depending on your financial circumstances.

One notable benefit of purchasing a property before selling your current home is that you will have a place to move into once you sell your existing residence, eliminating the need to rent temporarily or rely on the hospitality of family members. Additionally, you can avoid the extra expenses associated with moving your belongings twice. However, the drawback of buying while still owning a property is the potential burden of managing two mortgage payments, which could pose financial challenges, particularly if your current home doesn’t sell quickly.

On the other hand, selling your current home before buying a new property eliminates the risk of having to handle two mortgages simultaneously. This approach also provides you with more time to search for the perfect property if you can arrange temporary living arrangements. Nevertheless, the downside is the uncertainty of finding a suitable property that aligns with both your lifestyle and financial circumstances within the desired timeframe.

Negotiating With a Property Owner in Marbella

Once you’ve identified a property that captures your vision of the ideal home, you transition into the negotiation stage of the purchasing process when dealing with a private owner. Here are several crucial steps we strongly advise you to consider during this pivotal phase:

Making The Offer

When submitting an offer, we recommend formalizing it in writing, typically in the form of an offer letter, facilitated by your agent. This letter should clearly outline the offered price, proposed payment terms, and associated deadlines.

Ensure that when crafting your offer, you fully comprehend what will be included in the property sale, such as furniture and fixtures. It’s essential to present a reasonable and earnest offer; the more credible and serious your offer appears on paper, the greater your likelihood of securing the most favorable deal possible.

While some buyers opt for face-to-face negotiations with the seller when making an offer, we’ve observed that these interactions can be more personal and less structured. Conversely, negotiating through an agent or submitting an offer in writing tends to offer a more controlled and systematic approach. From our experience, we’ve found that negotiating through an agent often yields more advantageous outcomes for the buyer in finalizing the purchase price, owing to the agent’s expertise in negotiation tactics.

It’s important to note that if you intend to include any special conditions or requirements for the seller to consider before finalizing the property purchase, these contingencies must be clearly outlined in the initial offer.

The Best Way to Place an Offer

When negotiating, it’s crucial to present your offer in writing, ensuring it is both reasonable and earnest. A well-documented offer enhances your chances of navigating the purchasing process successfully and securing the most favorable deal. However, there are instances where face-to-face negotiations between the buyer and seller prove effective in finalizing the offer. While there is no definitive method for making an offer, based on our experience, utilizing your agent to facilitate the negotiation process is generally advisable. They can offer valuable guidance and support to help you reach an optimal agreement.

How Many Properties Should I View Before I Make an Offer?

The number of properties you should consider viewing before making an offer varies due to several external factors. Firstly, it hinges on the specific market niche you’re targeting and the availability of properties within that niche. Additionally, it may depend on whether this is your inaugural property purchase within this market. Furthermore, your openness to exploring different areas or your specific interest in particular locations also influences the number of properties to view. Ultimately, the objective of surveying multiple properties is to gain insight into the market dynamics and property prices, underscoring the importance of maintaining an open-minded approach throughout the viewing process.

Contract Signing on Your Property in Marbella

Once the seller accepts your offer, you transition into the legal phase of the purchasing process. When acquiring property, you typically encounter several key legal documents, including a reservation contract, a purchase contract, and an official deed, which are finalized at the Notary on the completion day. While this represents the typical procedure, there are alternative pathways available. However, it’s common to encounter various “standard private” contracts that may require your signature.

Reservation Contract – Contrato de Reserva

A reservation contract is a formal agreement signed by both the buyer and seller, securing the property for an agreed-upon duration, typically ranging from 7 to 14 days or longer. In this arrangement, the seller imposes a reservation fee, which the buyer is required to pay. The amount of this fee can vary, typically ranging from €5,000 to €20,000 or equivalent to 1% of the purchase price, or any other mutually agreed-upon sum. This fee serves to temporarily remove the property from the market during the specified period as agreed upon by both parties. If the buyer proceeds with the purchase, the reservation fee is credited towards the final purchase price.

However, in the event that the buyer decides against purchasing the property, they forfeit the reservation fee as compensation for the property being off the market, unless the reservation contract includes specific provisions allowing the buyer to withdraw without financial penalty.

Private Contract with 10% Deposit

Once the reservation contract is executed, the subsequent step involves signing a private contract and submitting a payment equivalent to 10% of the purchase price, inclusive of the previously paid reservation fee (if 1% was paid initially, the remaining 9% is paid at this stage). It’s worth noting that in certain instances, it’s possible to bypass the reservation contract and directly proceed to signing a private contract with a 10% payment. This approach is typically adopted when the purchase price is substantial, and the seller is unwilling to remove the property from the market for a nominal reservation fee.

There are three distinct types of contracts that you may encounter, all of which share similarities when making the 10% payment:

1. Penitential Deposit Contract – Contrato de Arras Penintenciales

This contract imposes penalties on the seller if they fail to sell the property under the predetermined terms previously established. In the event that the seller opts not to proceed with the sale, they are obligated to reimburse the buyer double the initial payment. Essentially, this arrangement allows the seller to terminate the contract at any time; although the penalty fee is substantial, the associated risk for the seller is minimal. Conversely, if the buyer fails to complete the property purchase, they forfeit the 10% payment, rendering the contract null and void.

2. Private Purchase Contract – Contrato privado de Compraventa

This type of contract is relatively less common as it binds both parties to the transaction, meaning that the forfeiture of the 10% payment or the reimbursement of double the amount by the seller may not suffice to nullify the contract. If either party refuses to proceed with the transaction, the other party can enforce the agreement through legal means. For instance, the seller may be compelled to sell the property (even if they refuse to attend the notary), or the buyer may be obligated to purchase it (even if they are unwilling). However, such circumstances are rare.

It’s important to recognize that the preceding descriptions of the 10% private contracts provide a general overview of their respective terms. Each contract may also include additional clauses and penalties that impact its provisions. It’s worth noting that the contract’s legal implications are determined not by its title but by the specific language used within the document.

3. Purchase Option Contract – Contrato de Opción de Compra

In this contract, the seller is not afforded the opportunity to withdraw from the agreement. No penalties are specified, as the seller lacks the right to rescind the contract. Instead, it is the buyer who has the option to exercise their decision to purchase the property during the contract period. Should the buyer opt not to proceed with the purchase, they forfeit the 10% payment, resulting in the contract becoming void.


If of interest, you can also apply for a mortgage in Spain. If you plan to do so, ensure that you start the process as soon as possible, as getting a mortgage approved in Spain can take up to 2 months after putting in your initial request.

If you decide to go ahead and request a mortgage, the bank will also require additional documents, although they are mainly interested in proof of any recurring income.

Completion of a Property Purchase in Spain – Escritura de Compraventa

All involved parties must be present for the completion, including buyers, sellers, and their legal representatives or lawyers, as well as bank personnel for loan redemption or subrogation, and any banks providing new mortgages.

Upon signing the title deed at the notary’s office (notaría pública), possession and full responsibility for the property are immediately transferred to you. Payment for the property purchase is also processed simultaneously through bank cheques. This payment method is considered the safest in Spain, ensuring security for both parties, as funds are transferred only when the property is formally transferred to the buyer, with banks providing swift and verified confirmation of payment.

Subsequently, upon signing the notarial sale deed and settling all necessary taxes, the deed is registered at the Land Registry, a process that typically takes up to three months. Following registration, the original deeds and all related invoices are made available. At this point, you have the freedom to update utility contracts such as water, electricity, gas, telephone, and homeowners association bills in your name and banking details.

Things to Keep in Mind After Buying Your New Home in Marbella

After acquiring your new home, the subsequent procedures involve settling all taxes and completing the registration of your property ownership. This process can be facilitated with assistance from your lawyer or solicitor.

It’s crucial to recognize that the expenses incurred during the property purchase are not the sole financial obligations, as additional costs arise after the acquisition. Our website features an informative article detailing purchase taxes and property acquisition fees in Marbella.

Registering Your New Property in Marbella

As stated in the preceding stage, it is essential to update the name and banking information on all previous utility and community bills to reflect your ownership. In some cases, a lawyer may assist you with this process if agreed upon.

Upon settling all taxes, the next step involves registering the property at the local property registry to establish your ownership rights. The following documentation is typically required for this process, which your lawyer can handle:

– N.I.E and an authorized copy of your Passport
– Confirmation of ITP Tax Payment
– Copy of the seller’s IBI Tax Payment

Expenses Related to a Property


The expenses associated with maintenance (such as cleaning, repairs, renovations, utility bills, garbage collection, etc.) vary based on the size and nature of the property. For instance, a spacious villa with a garden and pool necessitates significantly more financial resources and effort to upkeep compared to a modest apartment.

Community Fees

Property owners within any development, building, or complex featuring shared common areas are legally mandated to become members of the Community of Owners (Comunidad de Propietarios) and contribute towards community fees. These fees are allocated for the maintenance of common areas and any additional services approved by the community during the annual general meeting. The amounts can range from hundreds to thousands of Euros.

Property Ownership Tax (Impuesto Sobre Bienes Inmuebles – IBI)

The local tax on property ownership varies depending on the residency status of the owner. It is determined based on the “valor catastral” (administrative value typically lower than the market value) established by the town hall. The tax rate ranges from 0.4% to 1.1% of the “valor catastral,” contingent on the region. This amounts to an annual payment of €200 to €1500.

Garbage Tax

Everyone must pay for garbage tax in order to dispose of municipal solid waste. The tax rate is based on how much waste is present for collection by the municipality or local authority. The price varies depending on the area, but on average can cost €300 per year.

Homeowner Expenses

Annual Wealth Tax – Impuesto Sobre Patrimonio

The state progressive wealth tax rates start at 0.2% on assets up to €167,129 and rise to 2.5% on assets over €10,695,996. The regional rates vary.

This tax has been changed several times in recent years. Patrimonio was reintroduced during Spain’s financial crisis, but with a much higher tax-free allowance of €700,000 per person that also applies to non-residents.

It appeared as a ‘temporary’ measure, yet there is no clear indication of when it will be abolished, if at all.

Personal Income Tax – Impuesto Sobre la Renta de No-Residentes – IRNR

Non-residents who own property in Spain have to pay an annual income tax influenced by whether the property is rented out or not.

Not Rented Out

Non-resident property owners who do not rent out their property and have no other source of income in Spain pay income tax based on property value. The tax rate is fixed at 25% or 2% of the property’s valor catastral. If property value is € 700,000, taxable base (2%) = € 14,000, tax (25%) = € 3,500.

Rented Out

Non-residents are legally required to declare rental income and fulfill tax obligations. Tax regulations determine the taxable income and applicable rates, taking into account individual circumstances and any existing double taxation agreements between Spain and the taxpayer’s country of origin. Typically, non-residents are subject to a flat rate of 25% on the gross income generated from their Spanish property.

Residents in Spain are liable for income tax based on their yearly earnings. While tax rates differ across regions, recent years have seen favorable changes benefiting taxpayers, with the government planning further reductions in tax rates.


Before embarking on the journey of purchasing a property in Marbella, it’s essential to have everything meticulously organized and a comprehensive understanding of the Spanish purchasing process. This can feel overwhelming, given the wealth of information involved. Hence, having an experienced and reliable real estate agent by your side is paramount. Your agent should not only guide you through the process but also provide moral support.

Your realtor should be someone you resonate with and trust implicitly—a professional matchmaker who introduces you to your dream home. At Optimum Marbella, we emphasize strong relationships, trust, and experience. With an extensive clientele spanning the globe, we are well-versed in assisting individuals in finding their ideal residences in Marbella. Our boutique agency are esteemed experts in their field, serving as your tour guide, consultant, and problem solver throughout the 3-6 month process. Rest assured, when you finally settle into your newly acquired property, you’ll look back on the purchasing journey with gratitude for entrusting us with your investment. Get in contact with us today!