Buying a House in Spain: Registration of Ownership

A Nota Simple is an extract from the property registration at the Spanish Land Registry, “el Registro de la Propiedad.” It is an important document that you should always consult before buying a property in Spain, whether with or without a mortgage.

When buying a house in Spain, it is common to pay an initial amount to the seller to secure the purchase, similar to an option agreement. If the process continues, you usually sign a purchase contract, which includes a down payment requirement (typically 10% of the purchase price), usually paid directly to the seller. However, it is crucial to verify whether the seller is the rightful owner of the property and if the registrations are accurate. Has any construction been carried out without registering the property? Are there any legal issues? Does the building comply with local regulations? It is not uncommon for such issues to arise later in the process, causing delays and uncertainties. If the purchase ultimately falls through, the seller would be required to refund the down payment, which can be challenging if the funds have already been used to purchase their next property.

By working with a legal representative (power of attorney), you can reduce this risk. The representative examines the registrations before you make the 10% down payment, preferably even before signing the purchase contract. During a property appraisal, the registrations are always verified. If you purchase the property with a Spanish mortgage, the bank will conduct its own appraisal. By applying for the mortgage in a timely manner, the bank can appraise the property before you sign the purchase contract. You can also arrange for an independent appraisal, but make sure to use a recognized organization. However, you should be capable of interpreting the appraisal report yourself, or have someone do it on your behalf.

Property Registration – Nota Simple

A Nota Simple is an extract from the property registration at the Spanish Land Registry, “el Registro de la Propiedad.” It is an official ownership report with a verified description of the house you intend to purchase in Spain. The document typically consists of up to 3 pages and provides the following information:
– Date of the extract
– Property identification
– Date of the previous purchase by the current owner
– General or detailed description of the layout and annexes of the property
– Surface area of the property
– Classification of the property as rural (rustica) or urban
– If applicable: information about the building or complex the apartment is part of, including details about the homeowners’ association (VVE)
– Permitted use of the property (sometimes restricted to vacation use or with specific limitations)
– Rights and obligations regarding water, roads, and other services
– If the resident has any obligations for common contributions or fees
– Names of the owners, percentage of ownership, and type of ownership (e.g., full ownership or usufruct)

Obtaining a copy of the Nota Simple as early as possible is recommended. You can request it from the real estate agent or obtain it yourself through websites like You can even get a translated version. However, obtaining a copy may not always be straightforward. Property registration in Spain is decentralized, with over 1000 offices spread across the country, often multiple offices in larger cities. A Nota Simple is one of the most important documents when purchasing a property in Spain. It provides essential information and is required by the notary and the bank when applying for a Spanish mortgage.


The Cadastre in Spain is a register used for taxation purposes and contains information about registered properties. It is a different type of registration from the aforementioned property registration (el Registro de la Propiedad). The information in the Cadastre is not as extensive and does not include ownership details. The Cadastre provides the following overview:
– Address of the property
– Classification as urban or rural
– Intended use of the property
– Surface area of the built and unbuilt parts
– Year of construction
– Floor plans and site plans
– Cadastre reference number and the print date of the particular extract

A Nota Simple does not include site plans. In that sense, this document complements the information when conducting due diligence on the property you intend to purchase.

Cadastral Reference Number

Every property in Spain has a cadastral reference number, a 20-character alphanumeric combination. You will come across this number in the purchase deed and on property tax assessments related to the property’s value. This form of registration has been active since March 2004. For properties that last changed ownership in 2003 or earlier, the cadastral reference number may often not be known. Generally, the Nota Simple can be traced based on the cadastral reference number. Sometimes there may be discrepancies between the information in the Cadastre and the property registration (Nota Simple). The information provided in the property registration (el Registro de la Propiedad) and the Nota Simple takes precedence over the Cadastre.

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