We did go back and forth a couple of times, but in the end we were able to come to an agreement with the owner and he was willing to sell the house furnished!
When you buy a house in Spain, you need to put down a reserve of 3,000 Euros which is just the same as earnest money here in the States. It takes the house off the market for 30 days so the owner can’t sell it out from under you. This reserve is only refundable to you if something happens on the seller’s end. This would be, for example, if the property turned out to be illegal, meaning the deed and paperwork were not in order. There has been a bit of press about foreigners buying land in Spain and then building on it, only to find out that the land was illegal to build on. You can’t just build on any empty bit of land in Spain. Some land is designated as “green” and can’t be built on at all and some is slated rural and either can’t be built on, or only homes of a certain size can be built on a certain amount of land. Since our house (look at me, calling it “our house”) was built a long time ago, and then sold to someone, we had little to stress about as far as the illegal issue. So in this case, the 3,000 Euro reserve would be applied to the closing costs with no real worries.
The estate agent gave me the names of two Spanish lawyers, and we chose a man who had moved to Spain from the UK when he was quite young, studied law in Spain, and has been living and practicing law there since. We figured we needed a lawyer who was experienced in all the nuances of Spanish law, while still being able to communicate easily in English.
We received the Reserve Document, wired over the deposit, and kept waiting for the NIEs to show up in our Texas mailboxes.