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In this guide you will find compact and precise definitions of the terminology that is relevant to real estate in Spain, specific to country properties inland Andalusia. Most terminology is related to licenses or legislation. You can find more detailed information in the attached links. 


What is a building license?

A building license is a certificate issued that grants permission to build or reform a building.

What is the Cadastre?

The cadastre records the boundaries of a property, this information is used to apportion the relevant taxes to the owner. The boundaries are represented on a map.  

What is capital gains tax?

Capital Gains Tax, known as Impuesto sobre el Incremento Patrimonial in Spanish, is type of tax. It is the tax over the difference between the original purchasing price of a property and the  selling price of said property, minus the costs.

What is a casa rural?

A casa rural is a type of property on the countryside that is set up as a business with the purpose of being rented out to holiday guests. Running a casa rural involves bookkeeping and can function 12 months a year. You may choose to offer services such as breakfast, lunch and diner. Furthermore, you may organise trips and sell local products.

What is a commission agreement?

A commission agreement is a contract signed between two parties, the vendor and the real estate agency, in which the parties agree on the commission to be paid at the sale.

What is a cortijo? 

A cortijo is a typical and rustic type of building in Andalusia found in the middle of the countryside. The architectural design is quite simple since the workers mostly used them for harvesting. It is not usual for a town or city to be in the nearby surroundings. It is characterized by a large plot of land, often used for agricultural purposes and or for cattle raising. Cortijos tend to be historic, built around the 18th Century. 

What is a country property? What is a country home?
Very simply put, a country property is a house located in the countryside. There are many different types of country properties. It could be a country estate, a country villa, etc.

What is a DAFO?

A DAFO is a certificate that allows one to live in a house. It also dictates what work one is allowed to perform on said house. 

What is due diligence?

The investigation performed by purchaser’s lawyers to check the legal status of the country property.

What is an equestrian estate or a horse farm?

A horse farm or an equestrian estate is a property on the countryside that offers the possibility to keep horses. The house will have stables, an arena and additional equestrian facilities. When we talk about an equestrian estate, the house will be much more luxurious and high standard than the farm. The farm might have an authentic cortijo style. 

What is an estate?

An estate is a proportionally large property on the countryside. In some instances it even refers to a property so large that it is run like a business. Estates are stately and luxurious. In Spain they tend to have an architectural design that combines the features of a cortijo and an hacienda. Estates regularly have a large plot of land used for agricultural purposes.

What is a farm?

A farm is a property in the countryside with a large plot of land. The land is used for agricultural purposes or for raising cattle. Additionally, the property may also have a barn and or stables, a chicken yard or elsewhat, attached or detached from the house. 

What is a finca?

A finca refers to the plot a property lies on (large or small). This plot may have a house on it or not. The land is usually rural and is found in the countryside.

What is a finca de recreo?

A finca de recreo is a family owned plot of land with its respective property, used for personal leisure. The land is not used for monetary profit. The plot often has an income from a small olive grove, vineyard, (other), that is used for the maintenance of the land and property.

What is a floor plan?

A floor plan is an architectural and technical drawing to scale, showing an overview of the rooms in a house. The drawing shows a view from above. 

What is a Golden Visa?

A golden visa is a type of VISA that allows non-Europeans and their family to live and work in Spain. The main condition is that the applicant invests 500.000 euros or more in a property.

What is a hacienda?

Haciendas originated in Sevilla, they were vastly constructed between the 16th and 18th Centuries. This building type was built on rural land with the purpose of cultivating olive grove and to produce olive oil. Exceptionally was the land used to cultivate vineyards. It is distinguished from a cortijo because of its monumental architecture and design. They tend to be much more majestic and have traditional Spanish courtyards. 

What is a hunting estate? What is a hunting farm? What is a sporting estate?

A hunting estate, or a hunting farm, or sporting estate is a property in the countryside that offers the possibility to practice hunting. Hunting estates are luxurious and majestic with beautiful architectural elements. The size of the plot is large by definition, but still varies per estate. Some hunting farms focus on small game, or big game or both.

What is IBI?

IBI is a tax for all Spanish property owners, issued by the local council.

What is IRNR (Impuesto de la Renta de No-Residentes)?

IRNR is known as non-resident-income tax in English. It is the tax you pay as a non-resident and property owner in Spain.

What is a letter of intent?

The letter of intent is a token of goodwill, signed by both the buying and the selling parties. The letter states the conditions of sale as well as the time reserved for the purchaser’s lawyer to draw up a private purchase contract. 

What is the OCA?

The OCA (Oficinas Comarcales Agrícolas) is an organism that executes technical inspections to make sure horse establishments follow the regulations.

What is an occupation license?

It is the certification granted by the town hall that confirms a property is legally habitable.

What is a mortgage?

A mortgage is an agreement between two parties, where the lender lends money to the borrower. The borrower agrees to repay the lender over an agreed time period plus interest.

What is a Nota Simple?

A Nota Simple is a verified report of a given property that provides an official description of such property. The information on the report state the size and boundaries, the type of property, the name and ownership, etc.

What is a NIE?

A NIE, Número de Identidad Extranjero, is the Spanish Tax Identification Number. 

What is a notary?

A notary is an official public figure who impartially witnesses the signing of a legal document between two parties. 

What is plusvalía?

Plusvalía, Municipal Tax in English, is a type of tax paid every time a property is sold. The tax is calculated based on the increase in value of the land during the time that the seller was the owner of the property to be sold. 

What is a portfolio for Villas & Fincas Country Properties?

A portfolio is an archive or collection of properties presented on our website. 

What is a power of attorney?

A power of attorney is a legal document that designates and authorises a third person to make important decisions about someone else’s matters, such as property or finances.

What is a private purchasing contract?

A contract that states all of the conditions of the sale between the buying and the selling parties.

What is proof of funds?

A proof of funds is a legal document that serves as proof that a person is able to pay a certain transaction.

What is a proyecto de actuación?

A proyecto de actuación is a proposal, often prepared with an architect, that must be presented to the municipality when you intend to build on rustic land. The proposal includes information about the type of build, its purpose, along with a series of required documents. When the proposal is approved, you will be allowed to apply for a building license.

What is the Registry?

The registry is where legal documents are recorded in official books. Documents such as the Title Deed are recorded here. 

What is a reservation contract?

A reservation contract states the conditions of the sale and reserves the property for the designated time during which your lawyer can check the property on legal details, and draw up a private purchase contract.

What is rustic land?

Rustic land, known as suelo rústico or suelo no urbanizable in Spanish, is a type of land with a natural and rural character that has special protection. The land can be protected due to historical importance, or because it supposes a natural reserve, for example.

What is a technical survey?

A technical survey is performed by a technical architect. Based on the results of the inspection, the architect will elaborate on a report. The survey will contain information regarding the quality and state of the property to be purchased. 

What is a Title Deed?

The Title Deed is the legal document that states the transfer of a property from seller to buyer.

What is a topographical plan?

A topographic plan shows the exact boundaries of a plot of land. On a topographic map you can sometimes also distinguish the different land elevations by means of contour lines and the exact location of the buildings.

What is a villa? What is a country villa? What is a luxury country villa?

A villa is a type of independent house in the countryside that was considered upper class in the Roman times. The design always has luxurious elements and is often more modern too. Finally, villas have either one or two floors.

What is wealth tax?

Wealth tax is a type of tax one pays on an annual basis over someone’s total assets. In Andalusia, this tax has been abolished since September 21st of 2022. 

What is withholding tax?

It is a type of tax, 3% of the property purchasing price, that is directly paid to the Tax Office by the purchaser’s lawyer when the vendor is a non-resident in Spain, or a resident that cannot prove fiscal residency.

Danielle Ernstsen | 13th December 2022