When you look at properties in Spain, the chances are that you’ll be viewing them with an estate agent. The agent is often your first point of contact with the property and after your viewing, the agent may ask you to sign a Visit Sheet. In this blog post, we look at what this document is and its implications for you, the buyer.
What is a Visit Sheet?
In a nutshell, a Visit Sheet is a document that confirms you have visited a certain property in person with an estate agent or with an intermediary who represents the agency.
The Visit Sheet may also include a clause stating that if you buy the property without informing the agent, the agent has the right to payment of commission or compensation for damages.
What is the purpose of a Visit Sheet?
The document essentially safeguards the agent’s commission if you decide to buy. Your signature on the document establishes that you must pay commission to the agent even if you have negotiated with the sale directly with the owner.
What is the legal interpretation of clauses in Visit Sheets?
Judges mostly believe that signing a Visit Sheet does not imply that you and the agent have a purchase management contract. Furthermore, the majority opinion says that obligations do not arise from the Visit Sheet nor can estate agents request payment of a commission from the buyer of the property.
Unilateral and abusive
In fact, many judges go one step further and believe that the document is unilateral (created by the estate agent) and not a result of two parties agreeing to terms and conditions.
Furthermore, in many cases, the Visit Sheet has been drafted ambiguously and in an underhand way. Because of this, its clauses can be considered abusive and against consumer regulations. As a result, the signing of a Visit Sheet cannot give rise to any commitment for the buyer.
Did you know? At Costaluz Lawyers, we’ve been defending consumer rights for foreigners in Spain for over 15 years. Read about our track record.
Is there Case Law defending the no commission obligation?
The following are two examples of Case Law referring to the abusive nature of clauses in Visit Sheets:
“The signing of the Visit Sheet by the buyer in which the payment of a commission is established on purchase of the property does not include clarity and transparency. Consent and acceptance have not been duly displayed.”
Madrid, Provincial Court, Sec. 9.ª, 305, June 2019
“The signing of the Visit Sheet by the buyer proves that he visited the home, but it does not imply that he understood the content of the clause on compensation for damages, an adhesion clause that he did not have the opportunity to negotiate.”
Teruel, Provincial Court, Sec. 1ª, 128, May 2018
Did you know? A Visit Sheet is just one of the parts of the process of buying property. Find out more about conveyancing in Spain.
Are there ways of defending the opposite?
Yes, there are other Provincial Courts that, unlike those mentioned above, believe that the signing of the Visit Sheet can be considered as a purchase management contract. As a result, it generates obligations for the buyer.
However, for this to be the case, estate agents need to show that there has been correct information on the establishment of the commission or compensation. The wording of the clause must therefore be unambiguous and straightforward. They also need to prove that negotiations between the buyer and the agent did take place.
The following are examples:
“The clause incorporated in the Visit Sheet in which the obligation to pay the commission in charge of the seller is explained in the event of a sale taking place is valid, without it being an abusive clause.”
Cantabria, Provincial Court, Sec. 2.ª, 111, February 2020
“The signing of the Visit Sheet, which includes the client’s commitment to pay the estate agent commission of 2% of the price of the sale, if carried out, accredits the conclusion of the mediation contract signed.”
Málaga, Provincial Court, Sec. 5.ª, 371, June 2015
What does this conflict mean?
The fact that some Case Law points to abusive clauses and the invalidity of a Visit Sheet while other indicates the exact opposite means that it’s necessary to look at each specific case and assess the circumstances it occurred in.
At Costaluz Lawyers, we are strong advocates of crystal-clear contracts and in the case of Visit Sheets, we believe there are two important conclusions to be drawn.
- For a clause to valid and legally binding, its wording must be plain and clear so that the information it contains is as clear.
- The signing party (the potential buyer in the case of a Visit Sheet) must fully understand the consequences and implications of signing it.
Get in touch
If you have signed a Visit Sheet and find yourself in dispute with the estate agent, get in touch with our expert team. We’re more than happy to offer a free consultation into your case to help you defend your rights.