Who are we?
We are a Spanish firm which, since early 2006 has been specialising in meeting the needs of the increasing number of people who want to buy property in Galicia - and who need the hard-to-find services of a lawyer who speaks English. There certainly are English-speaking lawyers in Spain but they're concentrated on the long-established costas and there are precious few here in Galicia.
Do I really need a solicitor?
The truth is most Spaniards don't use a lawyer. They use a notary for the 'Completion' contract because they're compelled to do so by law. But, for the normal legal, quasi-legal and administrative enquiries a solicitor would make in the UK, they use friends, contacts and their own resources.
These are usually denied to foreign purchasers. So you are left with the options of taking a risk, trusting the estate agent or using a local lawyer who speaks your language.
It's up to you which one of these you chose but taking a risk can have very serious consequences. Agents will invariably tell you that the sale will be simple, easy and quick but this is rarely true in Galicia. Sellers are notoriously 'difficult' and irregularities with the documents are virtually standard. Particularly if you are buying rural land [virtually every Brit's choice in Galicia] and the sellers have indulged in very common practices aimed at minimising taxes. Nothing necessarily illegal but potentially dangerous for you, if it means you don't have the protection of proper documents and registered title. You may still get the property you want but burdened with a few very unpleasant surprises.
As for trusting agents, what you need to bear in mind is there is no such concept as 'conflict of interest' here. Agents will invariably tell you they have your interests at heart, even though they are commissioned and paid by the seller. They may even believe this themselves. But it would be very unwise for you to do so. Especially if push comes to shove. Agents are primarily interested in their commission, in a tough market where there are few exclusive agency contracts. And they always want a quick sale. It's not hard to guess whose side they're going to come down on if there's a potential or real conflict of interest between you and the seller.
Why you need a solicitor in Galicia - Further sources of information
For further reading on this key question, here are a few independent sites which you may consider more objective than us
- Spanish lawyers and the law in Spain
- Property in Spain Information Centre
- Property in Spain
- Everything you need to know about buying, owning, and selling property in Spain: If there is only one point you should take away from visiting this website, it is that you should be wary of using a lawyer who is also acting for the agent or seller.