Spain’s Wealth Visa: The Hidden Costs Behind A Property Purchase

Aerial of oceanfront Malaga, Spain
There’s more than meets the eye with investment in Spanish property.

Spain introduced its wealth visa program in 2013 to entice investors in making significant contributions to its economy. More formally known as the Golden Visa program, it allows anyone to obtain family residency after investing at least EUR 500,000 in real estate.

You can invest in a single unit or several properties, as long as the total sale price will not cost less than EUR 500,000. The wealth visa program also doesn’t necessarily restrict you from buying residential real estate.

Spain allows you to invest in a new business that will generate economic or job opportunities. For example, you can buy a winery at Alt Empordà in Girona, Catalonia, for EUR 1.1 million (US $1.2 million). While the Golden Visa program seems straightforward, there’s more than meets the eye with a EUR 500,000 investment in Spanish property.

waterfront city in spain at night with boats and homes

Less obvious hidden charges for a wealth visa in Spain include legal fees and costs associated with the transfer of title.

What Are The Hidden Costs For A Wealth Visa In Spain?

Wealth visa applicants don’t need to visit Spain for their applications, but it’s counterintuitive to buy real estate without seeing the property in person. A personal visit to the country becomes more necessary when you plan to buy a luxury property, which already costs a plane ticket.

The less obvious hidden charges for a wealth visa in Spain include:

  • Legal and notary fees
  • Miscellaneous fees (e.g. land registration)
  • Real estate transfer and title deed taxes

Legal fees for a property purchase can range from 1% to 2%, including value-added tax (VAT). The same range may apply to miscellaneous fees such as land registration. Title deed taxes may account for up to 2.5% of the final sale price, while real estate transfer taxes can reach up to 10%.

If you’re buying a newly built luxury property, the transfer tax for most purchases would be fixed at a 10% rate. A sale of an existing property often accompanies a transfer tax between 6% and 10%.

Be sure to negotiate agent or brokerage fees with the seller. If this falls under your responsibility, you would need to pay the typical rate (i.e., approximately 3% of the total sale price). It’s also essential to conduct due diligence on a broker’s background.

For example, luxury property buyers in eastern Spain should choose Inmobiliaria Rimontgo as their broker. The firm has handled transactions in the region since 1959.

aerial view of barcelona and the cathedral at sunset

Since the visa program’s launch in 2013, Spain has approved fewer than 2,000 applications every year.

A Higher Investment Amount Could Increase Chances Of Approval

It would be best if you considered investing more than EUR 500,000 in real estate to increase your chances of approval. Many investors have a common misconception that having the minimum amount guarantees visa approval.

Since the Golden Visa program’s launch in 2013, the government has approved fewer than 2,000 applications every year.

The Ministerio de Inclusión, Seguridad Social y Migraciones (Ministry of Inclusion, Social Security and Migration) even recorded the lowest number of approvals in the second half of 2020. According to a report (in Spanish only), the government approved 162 Golden Visa applicants between July and December.

In the first half of 2020, Golden Visa approvals in Spain comprised 683 applications. The low approval rate could be related to the coronavirus pandemic, but it still shows slim chances of approval.

For this reason, it might help to purchase a property worth more than EUR 500,000. While a higher amount doesn’t guarantee approval, it could improve your chances. A bigger investment also shows that you’re more serious about investing in Spain.

Conclusion

The requirements for Spain’s wealth visa aren’t fully transparent, so it pays to do your own research. Whether or not you end up investing more than EUR 500,000, the Golden Visa program requires you to buy property without encumbrances or liens. Browse through different property listings in Spain to start your journey toward a Golden Visa.

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Author

Randolf Santos has covered different segments of the real estate industry since 2014. He worked at S&P Global Market Intelligence before joining Forbes Global Properties as a contributor. You can reach him at randolf.santos@gmail.com.

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