Ramon was fast off the mark because within minutes of us agreeing the price the 'reservation contract' landed in my inbox. Where was Spanish inefficiency when you really need it?
We added to our list of differences between buying a house in England and Spain with numbers 37 and 38. Although it was a simple enough document, it contained within it two frightening elements.
Firstly the deposit would be a massive 15%, a big chunk of our liquid assets, and it was requested immediately on us signing the contract. This was non-returnable, should we change our mind, but would only cost the seller 1.500 € if she decided to back out, it didn't seem particularly fair.
The second was that the completion date would be in 28 days, not enough time for us to raise the funds and do all of the other tasks (NIF (Número de Identificación Fiscal), bank account, consultations with our gestoria) that we needed to complete prior to handing over the purchase money.
Inma got a copy too, and after a little discussion and negotiation we managed to get the deposit reduced to 10%, and the completion extended to 60 days, but it would still be tight, and if we missed the deadline then we lost that deposit. Wheels were set in motion to arrange the finance in the UK and plans were quickly made to go back out to Spain for a short trip to sort NIF and Bank account as well as actually meeting Inma face-to-face for the first time.
We landed at Asturias airport slap-bang in the middle of a civil servants strike, it could only happen to us! First we'd a three hour trip to Lugo, the provincial capital, to present our NIF application documentation in person at the police station, where the civilian element were out on strike. After much telephone discussion between Inma and her sister Campo (in Lugo) we were assured by the authorities that we'd be able to put in our application, despite the walkout. We arrived as advised, expecting massive queues but within five minutes we were heading back to the car to leave the big city and head back north. It would now take a week for the authorities to issue the numbers that we needed to purchase a property, and open a bank account. Campo would collect and forward to Inma.
Next up was the bank. We'd chosen Banco Santander not for any other reason than Inma suggested it (probably on a commission) and she took us to meet the bank manager, Jesús. He was great, got us to sign a ream of blank forms, awaiting the NIF, and assured us that everything was going to be fine. I guess that sometimes you just have to go with the flow, but timing was going to be crucial if all the places of the jigsaw were to fall in place at the right time.
Now we'd got to sort the money in the UK.