How do calculate the area of a property in Spain?

The calculation of the floor area of the property is essential in determining the price. In many cases, we see a property advertised in Marbella with a certain square metre, and when the buyer checks the exact details, or even draws up a floor plan, it turns out that the property is smaller than the advertised m2. Our clients also ask us to ask the land registry for floor plans, but unfortunately in Spain it is not compulsory to include a floor plan with the land registry documentation. And if you use the title deeds as a basis, they are not always accurate, especially for older flats, as some include terraces and balconies and others do not. First of all, it is important to clarify that two concepts are often confused: the useful square metre (Superficie útil) and the built-up square metre (Superficie construida) .

In order to understand the possible differences when measuring a property, it is necessary to be aware of the difference between useful floor area, built-up area and area constructed with common surfaces.

This refers to the total walkable area of the property, including where furniture and cupboards are located. As such, the space occupied by partitions, columns or pillars is not taken into account. In the case of a dwelling, it is used to give an idea of the amount of space available for habitation.

This includes all square metres within the perimeter of the dwelling, including partitions and walls. If a wall is shared with a neighbour, the measurement starts from the centre of the adjacent wall. In the case of attic space, space higher than one and a half metres should be taken into account.

This is the dimension shown in the cadastral map. This is the built-up area plus the proportional share of porches, galleries or corridors. This means that in a six-apartment building, one-sixth of the lobby, staircases, stairwells, etc. is added to each apartment.
In addition, the problem of measuring terraces and other external spaces must be taken into account. For land registry purposes, the covered terrace is counted as 50% of the useful floor area. In other words, a terrace of ten square metres counts as five square metres. However, if three of the four sides are enclosed, they count as 100%.

In Spain, there are two property registers that operate independently of each other: one is the Property Register and the other is the Cadastral Register.

    The Cadastre ( Catastro Inmobiliario ) is an administrative register under the authority of the Tax Administration which records the details of immovable property. The regulations are laid down in the Real Estate Cadastre Law.

It is important to note that, unlike the Property Register, the registration of real estate in this register is compulsory and its main purpose is to serve as a basis for the application of the IBI, Inheritance and Gift Tax or the Nomination Tax.

The cadastral data are public and can be consulted at any time through Sede Catastro. You only need to enter the address or cadastral number to access information such as the cadastral reference, the purpose of the property (residential in the case of a dwelling), the year of construction and the cadastral dimensions. The downloadable data usually accurately reflects the actual size of the property and the plot.

The cadastral data do not always correspond to the data on the title deeds (Nota Simple) registered at the Land Registry.

The Register of Title Deeds (Registro de la Propiedad) is a public service whose main function is to register all changes, contractual decisions and/or administrative legislation and any other rights affecting property rights. The purpose of the register is to provide all the information concerning the property:

Description of the property,
Identification of the owner(s)

The problem with this document may arise when the owner of the property wishes to sell the property, especially because the discrepancies may cause some doubt on the part of the buyer. In any case, it is important to know that as long as there are discrepancies of this type, the title deed always takes precedence, as the Cadastre is only an administrative record and is only the basis for the application of the taxes applicable to the property. The title deed guarantees all the information required for the legal aspects of the property.

If discrepancies between the data of the two entities are to be corrected, it is necessary to determine which entity has incorrect data on the property and which is the real one. Once it has been identified where the error is, the Land Registry Law provides different ways to resolve discrepancies between the Cadastre, the Land Registry and the physical reality of the land. In 2015, the Land Registry Law was amended and one of its objectives was to coordinate the Land Registry and the Cadastre Registry in order to avoid discrepancies and better identify the real estate.

It is important to know that in order to correctly register the property, the rules allow for certain errors in the area in comparison with the Cadastre data. However, these discrepancies should not exceed 10%. If they exceed 10%, the lawyer can stop the registration of the property and start a land registry procedure. If the discrepancy does not exceed 10%, then no procedure is required to correct the deed and the registration of the property cannot be blocked, provided that it is registered in accordance with the other requirements of the Real Property Act.