What is the buying process for a ski property in Spain?

We recently wrote about resorts where you have the best of both worlds – great skiing on your doorstep and sandy beaches just a few hours’ drive away – and Spain came out top, whether down south in the Sierra Nevada, or in the classic favourites of the Pyrenees. But if you’re looking to purchase here, what is the buying process for a ski property in Spain? Find out with our guide.

1. Decide on your criteria

Start by drawing up a list of what you’re looking for from your ski home. It can be a good idea to start not with the features of your home, but what you want from your lifestyle. That way, you make sure that your list only has things that you’ll really need. Think about how often you’d use the property, and for what lengths of time. If you’re popping out for weekends, being in a resort with easy airport access is crucial, but, if you’re lucky enough to spend a large part of the season out there, then you can probably find yourself a better deal by looking at slightly more difficult-to-access resorts.

2. Start your property search

Start by looking online on SnowOnly’s listings, where you’ll find properties from major names in the industry all grouped into one site. It’s a great way to save yourself time at the beginning, instead of trawling through each individual agency’s site. Use your list of criteria as a bit of a checklist and, once you’ve found a few that meet your ‘musts’, start contacting agents to arrange viewing trips.

3. Organise your finances

At the same time in the buying process for a ski property in Spain as looking for your home, start speaking to your currency specialist about your budget. You need to have your money ready to go by the time you go on your viewing trip, so that you’re in place to offer then and there. Otherwise, if you have to go home, sort out your money and then come back, you could find that someone else has put in an offer (and, as we’ll see, there’s no gazumping in Spain!). 

Seven-bedroom chalet in Baqueira. Click on the image to view the property.

This means above all working out how you’re going to send your money safely. Exchange rates are constantly moving, so, between offering and paying your reservation deposit, you will likely find the rates have changed – and so has the cost of your deposit. Find out how to avoid this in the free Property Buyer’s Guide to Currency.

4. Head out on your viewing trip

Now for the fun part! Pack your bags and head out on your viewing trip to Spain. You could either organise yourself, arranging your own accommodation and booking individual appointments with different agents, or you could use one agent and have them arrange everything for you, usually for just a small fee.

The former works very well if you want to view a wide variety of styles of property, and perhaps in different resorts, while having one agent doing the organisation is perfect for a stress-free viewing trip where you’re set on one style and place.

Make sure all decision makers are with you, so you don’t need to go back to consult, and be ready to offer if you do see the perfect home. We would generally recommend keeping it to maximum seven properties a day, otherwise they’ll all start to blend together.

5. Get your NIE number

You can do this at almost any stage, and the earlier, the easier. An NIE number is your Número de identidad de extranjero, or essentially Spanish tax number for foreigners. You can normally get one from your local consulate or embassy, or your estate agent can help you in-country at the tax office. You need it to open a bank account, pay your mortgage and get utilities connected, among other things.

6. Find your notary

In Spain, anything private contract can only be elevated to a public contract by a notary. These are neutral representatives of the state, who make sure that everything is done legally and in accordance with the rules. Generally, you can use the same notary as the seller without any worries – they have no reason to be biased one way or the other. The only time you might want to find your own notary is if the seller’s doesn’t speak English.

Six-bedroom chalet in the Sierra Nevada. Click on the image to view the property.

7. Make your offer and sign the reservation agreement

Once you find the perfect property and you make an offer that the seller accepts, then it’s time to sign the reservation agreement. This is something many buyers from outside common-law countries, like the UK, really appreciate in the buying process for a ski property in Spain, as it stops any gazumping.

Normally, this will mean the property is taken off the market at the offered price for around 15 to 30 days. You’ll normally pay a reservation deposit of around €3,000-€10,000, depending on the price of the home. It’s a good idea to have the agreement made subject to preliminary legal checks, and mortgage approval if necessary.

8. Sign the deposit contract

Before your 15- to 30-day ‘cooling-off’ period runs out, you need to definitely accept the purchase. When you do so, you’ll sign a deposit contract, or contrato de arras, which commits you to buy this property and at the price you’d said. At this point, you’ll pay a deposit of around 10%.

If you now pull out, then you lose the deposit. However, again, the buying process for a ski property in Spain has strong protections for the buyer, so if the seller pulls out or is in breach of contract, then they must pay back the double of the deposit.

9. Sign the sale contract

You’ve made it to the last step of buying your perfect ski property! With the whole process complete, you head to the notary’s office to sign your escritura, or sale contract and the property (and keys) are formally handed over upon payment of the remaining balance of the deposit. Your new ski home in Spain awaits!