The notary is one of the key figures of traditional Spanish society, along with others notables such as the doctor and the priest. But whilst the standing of the clergy in Spain has taken a bit of a beating in recent decades, Spanish notaries continue to enjoy a prestigious position in society, not to mention a privileged revenue stream guaranteed by law.
Under Spanish law a notary’s signature is required to ‘elevate’ a private contract into public deeds that can be inscribed in the land register.
Though they earn their fees from private individuals and companies, notaries are essentially public officials who play a neutral role in drafting and witnessing many types of contracts in Spain. Their job is to ensure that both parties to an agreement understand the terms of the contract, that the terms of the contract do not contravene any laws, and to ensure that the appropriate taxes generated by the transaction are paid.
When you buy a property in the UK you exchange contracts, pay the vendor, get the keys and the property is yours, after which you are free to register your title in the land register. The big difference in Mallorca is that you can’t inscribe your title in property register – Mallorca’s version of the land register – unless a Spanish notary witnesses the deeds of sale.