When you are planning to buy a property in Marbella, Costa del Sol, Spain, you have costs of around 10% purchase price depending on the complexity of the procedure, the area of Spain in which you are buying and the requirement of finance.
The buyer and seller are free to agree whatever terms they choose as there is no Spanish law requiring that one of the parties must pay any particular tax. Typically, the seller pays the notary fees and the municipal tax, as he is the one making the profit on the increase in the property value, while the buyer pays the transfer tax and the registry fee, as he is the one who is interested in making sure the property is registered in his name.
It is common practice for the buyer and seller to confirm the details of the purchase in a private contract, with the buyer putting down a non-refundable deposit of between 5% and 10% of the purchase price. This reserves the property and allows the buyer sufficient time to arrange payment of the balance. The estate agent have a standard contract available which you should have your lawyer read and comment on. The contract you sign should identify the property and the seller and buyer. It should state that the property is sold free of all charges, liens and mortgages. Before signing, your lawyer should check to make sure that no back taxes are owed on the property and that its original registration is in order. Back taxes are checked with Hacienda or the Town Hall and are the only debts not listed at the Property Registry.
Assuming that the private contract is in order and that the buyer has secured the funds to complete the transaction, the sale is completed by signing the Escritura de Compraventa in the presence of the Notary. The Escritura de Compraventa does not guarantee your title to the property until it is registered at the Property Registry (making it an Escritura Pública, a public document). Once registered, the document is returned to the Notary, where it is kept on file. If you need a copy you can request one from the Notary who will produce an authorised copy. The deed should be registered within a few months and your lawyer will usually ask for a sum of money in advance to cover the estimated taxes and fees, and will either bill you for the remainder or refund you the overpayment once the deed is registered.
The Notary is a public notary and an official of the State who ensures that contracts are legal. He does not verify or guarantee the accuracy of the statements made in the contract. You still need a lawyer representing your best interests.