If you are looking for land to buy here’s an important tool for checking out a plot you might be interested in.
It’s really useful. You can see
1. the boundaries and the neighbours’ boundaries
2. the size in square metres (which you can compare with the other legal documents)
3. the broad planning category
4. the name of the local authority and therefore who to ask about the planning regulations
5. the unique reference number that unambiguously references that tract of land and can be used in legal agreements to identify it.
The whole of Spain is mapped. It’s a government website. Access is free.
Note: The purpose of the catastral register is to raise taxes. You will see a catastral value on the documentation. This has no relation to the actual market value but nonetheless is used to raise an annual tax called the IBI that the owner is charged and pays for local services such as rubbish collection. The IBI is normally a very low sum and can be a few hundred euros a year.
Important Points for the Foreigner to Understand about the Catstral
The information on the catastral document is indicative. The boundaries convey no legal rights and the square metres are often calculated using aerial photographs. When I say they convey no legal rights they can be used as evidence, especially historical evidence, in border disputes and planning applications but they are not definitive. The pitfall is that they look a bit like a title deed in Northern Europe and they are not that.
The size of the land in square metres is normally different on each legal document: the catastral document, the nota simple (land registry) and the escritura (title deed). This is perfectly normal.. There is a legal requirement for a topographical survey where there is a difference but this legal requirement is not enforced.
Differences between the areas can indicate that buildings have been illegally extended or are not licenced and that is critical information if you are thinking of a renovation or using an existing building to establish rights to get a building licence.
Unmarked boundaries are fairly common. I think it’s possible in the countryside for generations of neighbours to both believe they own the same piece of land but as the boundaries are not marked neither is aware of the problem. Wild animals and even grazing animals roam freely.
How to use the site
First ask the estate agent or the seller for the catastral reference number or the catastral document of the land you are thinking of buying. Sometimes estate agents don’t want to give you this information until they have physically accompanied you to the property because they think you might be a rival agent trying to steal the listing or you might go direct to the owner and they will miss out on their commission. It’s understandable in a highly competitive market.
Alternatively, you need the exact location or address. If you physically visit the land send yourself the pin drop on whats app.
If you can persuade the estate agent to send you the location so you can look at it from your computer you can get a better idea of whether its worth a visit and that can save a lot of time. that can often save a lot of time.
You can see the reference number, the size in square metres, the relevant municipality and the planning category. If you click on Cartografia you can see your land and all the neighbouring plots and the surrounding area. You can scroll in and out to change the scale of the map. You can coordinate with Google maps to see the same property on google maps. You can look at it from the air. And you can drive around the area in the google car and get a feel for the terrain and the neighbourhood without leaving the comfort of your home.
If you have the location but you don’t have the catastral reference number you can go straight into the catastral map of Spain click on the land and access the catastral document that way.
Click Cartografia (in the first image) and it opens up a map of Spain. You might have to use a bit of detective work and coordinate with Google maps and or use the address.