How To Rent Or Buy Real Estate In Spanish (Words & Phrases)

  • Jada Lòpez
    Written byJada Lòpez
    Jada LòpezSpanish teacher, translator
    🎓 B.A., Translation and Interpreting English and Spanish, Universidad de Granada
    🎓 M.A., Formación de Profesores de Español como Lengua Extranjera (ELE), Universidad Pablo de Olavide

    Passionate language teacher and translator. Wife, mother of 3 and amateur surfer.
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How To Rent Or Buy Real Estate In Spanish (Words & Phrases)

There’s been an enormous spike in expats migrating to Spanish-speaking countries in recent years (particularly Latin America, and especially Mexico).

In fact, there was a report out recently by InterNations that ranked Mexico as the #1 destination for expats in 2022.

Whether it’s for lower cost of living, easing tax burden or escaping repressive government policies, people are moving to places like Mexico in droves.

Have you decided to move to a Spanish-speaking country?

Getting there is the easy part.

Finding a place to live is the real challenge.

However, there’s a way to simplify the process: take some time to learn the right vocabulary and phrases to prepare for this transition. Knowing how to talk about real estate will help you negotiate the perfect place.

Check out this guide for the keywords and phrases you’ll need to rent or buy real estate in Spanish.

Essential vocabulary you need to search for a home in a Spanish-speaking country

Let’s go straight to the critical vocabulary you need to search for a home and buy or rent real estate in Spanish (Spain or Mexico).

1. Casa

So, to start with the absolute basics, the Spanish word for “house” is casa.

It’s pronounced kahssah, and you can use this noun to refer to your home.

If you’re lucky enough to be able to buy two homes, you can pluralise the word casa and say casas. For instance, you might want to buy or rent real estate in Spanish, like a house near the beach and one in the city centre.

In that case, you might say:

Listen to audio

Quería comprar dos casas, una cerca de la playa y otra en el centro de la ciudad.

I would like to buy two houses, one near the beach and the other in the city centre.

2. Agencia inmobiliaria

The place you must visit if you’re looking for a beautiful home is the agencia inmobiliaria.

You may be able to tell that agencia is a partial cognate of the word “agency”, so perhaps you’ve guessed that this phrase means real-estate agency.

Listen to audio

Vamos a firmar el contrato con la agencia inmobiliaria.

We're going to sign the contract with the estate agent.

3. Piso/apartamento

There are different categories of casas in Spanish-speaking countries.

In Spain, you may look for un piso, which means “flat” or “apartment”.

In Mexico, however, you must use the word un apartamento, which means “apartment”.

Listen to audio

Me encanta este piso. Tiene vistas bellas del mar.

I love this flat. It has beautiful views of the sea.

4. Planta

You may be looking for un piso or un apartamento on the ground floor, so use planta to describe the floor you’re looking for.

When you purchase or rent real estate in Spanish, just don’t get confused with the other noun planta, which refers to plants (as in flowers and foliage).

Modifying this noun with an ordinal number helps you specify which floor you’d want to live on, but always use the feminine version of the ordinal number as you’re modifying a feminine noun.

Listen to audio

Quería vivir en la planta baja.

I would like to live on the ground floor.

5. Habitación/cuarto

In Mexico, the word you’ll need if you want to describe the number of rooms you want is cuarto.

For instance, if you need two bedrooms (and not a studio apartment) in Mexico, you should say busco un apartamento de dos cuartos. This word is common in Spain as well.

You’ll hear the phrase cuarto de baño when referring to the bathroom.

The same goes for habitación.

You will hear it in Mexico, but mainly when an estate agency advertises a property in formal situations.

Listen to audio

La habitacíon es un poco pequeña. A ver la otra.

The room is a bit small. Let's see the other one.

6. Ambiente

This noun is only used in certain Spanish-speaking countries.

For example, in Argentina, Bolivia, Columbia, Cuba, Ecuador, Paraguay, Perú, Uruguay and Venezuela, ambiente means “zones”.

You’ll notice in the RAE dictionary that ambiente also means habitacíon or “bedroom”.

Listen to audio

Este salón tiene dos ambientes.

This living room has two zones.

7. Dormitorio principal

Need to describe the ideal size of your master bedroom?

You’ll first need this phrase to identify the room itself. Dormitorio principal means “master bedroom” in Spanish.

Remember, if you just want to say “bedroom”, use either habitacíon or dormitorio in Spain, mainly cuarto in Mexico.

Listen to audio

¿Cuál es el tamaño del dormitorio principal?

What is the size of the master bedroom?

8. Baño

Baño means “bathroom” and “bath”, but you also have the more complete phrase cuarto de baño if you want to clearly distinguish between the two.

For instance, if you want to buy or rent real estate in Spanish with two bathrooms, use the plural phrase cuartos de baño.

There’s no need to pluralise the word baño here, but you do need to pluralise cuarto.

Listen to audio

Mi familia es grande, entonces necesito una casa con dos cuartos de baño.

My family is big, so I need a house with two bathrooms.

9. Cocina

La cocina is the kitchen.

Remember, this is a feminine noun, so when you’re talking to the estate agents about the size of the kitchen or whether it has sufficient light, use the articles la and una to modify the word.

Listen to audio

La cocina tiene mucha luz.

The kitchen has a lot of light.

10. Comedor

Use comedor if you want to discuss the dining room with the estate agent showing you around the house or flat.

Listen to audio

Tiene un salón/comedor, pero el sitio es muy pequeño.

It has a living room/dining area, but it's a small place.

11. Salón/sala

Salón means “family room” or “living room” in English.

However, you can also use the phrase sala de estar if you need a synonym for salón, which gives you a literal translation of the word “living room”.

The word sala is more common in Mexico if you want to talk about the living room in a potential new home.

Listen to audio

No me gusta el salón. Hay una corriente de aire desde fuera.

I don't like the living room. There's a draft from outside.

Vocabulary to describe zones outside the home

Other zones you might be looking for aren’t necessarily inside the home itself.

Here’s some vocabulary to describe some of those spaces that are a bonus when buying or renting real estate.

1. Trastero

If your piso has un trastero, you can store all your items that don’t have a place within the flat.

Un trastero is a “storage room” usually located near the parking zone of your apartment.

Listen to audio

Y tiene un trastero también. ¡Por fin, puedo guardar todas mis cosas!

And it has a storage room as well. Finally, I can store all my things!

2. Jardín

Since it’s similar to its English equivalent, you may already know what this Spanish word means. Jardín means “garden” in English.

Note the accent mark on top of the í, which indicates that you should pronounce this word har-deen.

Listen to audio

El jardín es amplio. Hay un sitio para plantar árboles.

The garden is wide. There's a space to plant trees.

3. Garaje

If you need a home with a place to park and shelter your car, ask the estate agent if the building has un garaje.

Remember that this noun is pronounced gah-rah-heh, and don’t forget that it’s a masculine noun, so use un or el to modify it.

Listen to audio

¿Tienes un coche? Pues este piso tiene un garaje en el edificio.

Do you have a car? Well, this flat has a garage in the building.

4. Terraza/balcón

Una terraza means “balcony” in English.

If you want to ask whether the flat or house has a terraza, use this feminine noun, although you can also use it when speaking about a terrace near a bar or café. If you’re in Mexico, use the word balcón instead of terraza to describe a balcony.

Here’s a usage example.

Listen to audio

La terraza es amplia pero no muy larga.

The balcony is wide but not very long.
Listen to audio

El balcón es pequeño. Estoy buscando un apartamento con un balcón grande.

The balcony is small. I'm looking for a flat with a large balcony.

5. Patio

Some apartments have a small space between buildings, known as a patio. The patio usually doesn’t have a covering; the space is open to the sky above it.

Listen to audio

Este edificio tiene un patio interior. Quería un piso con una terraza.

This building has an interior patio. I wanted a flat with a terrace.

6. Urbanización

Una urbanizacíon is a community space for several buildings close to each other.

An urbanización may have a swimming pool and a large exterior patio or garden space.

Listen to audio

Las urbanizaciónes tienen muchas ventajas.

Urbanizations have many advantages.

Vocabulary to describe the specific attributes and locations of a flat or apartment

You can also use some words to describe the specific attributes of a flat or apartment, whether you want to purchase or buy real estate in Spanish.

Here are some examples.

1. Interior

If you’re looking at potential flats online, make sure you check whether the flat is interior or exterior.

An interior flat (pronounced in-teh-reior) does not have street views.

In other words, the windows may look onto a patio, or you may have another building in front of your flat.

Listen to audio

No me gusta el piso porque es interior. Mejor si buscamos un piso exterior.

I don't like the flat because it is interior. It is better if we look for an exterior floor.

2. Exterior

If the flat you’re hoping to purchase has windows that look out into the street, this flat is exterior. It may also have a balcón or terraza that looks onto the street.

Listen to audio

Este piso es exterior. Tiene buenas vistas.

This flat is exterior. It has good views.

3. Ascensor/elevador

When you look for an apartment online, some may be cheaper than others if they don’t have an ascensor.

An ascensor is a lift, while elevador is the Mexican Spanish word for lift or elevator.

Listen to audio

Es un quinto piso sin ascensor. Por eso, tenemos que encontrar otro.

It's a fifth-floor apartment with no lift. That's why we must find another one.

4. Dúplex

Un dúplex is a flat or apartment in a building that has stairs within the dwelling leading to another floor.

On the second floor of the dúplex, you will most likely find bedrooms and a bathroom.

Listen to audio

Busco un dúplex exterior con vistas a la playa.

I am looking for an exterior duplex apartment with views of the beach.

5. Aire acondicionado

In locations where the climate is very hot, looking for a flat or home with aire acondicionado, or “air conditioning” is best.

Listen to audio

Mejor buscamos un piso con aire acondicionado si vivimos en el sur.

We better look for a flat with air conditioning if we live in the south.

Questions and phrases to use if you want to rent or buy real estate in Spanish

Before we get to the end, here’s a list of questions and phrases commonly used in Spain and Mexico when speaking to an inmobiliaria representative.

Questions to ask about the zone or the area

Ask these questions to learn about the area or location of the house you’re looking for.

Spanish sentenceEnglish equivalent
¿Hay tiendas o supermercados cerca del piso?Are there shops or supermarkets near the flat?
¿Hay más pisos parecidos en esta zona?Are there similar flats in this area?
¿Hay escuelas cerca de esta vivienda?Are there schools near this home?

Phrases to describe the location of the home you’re looking for

Use these phrases to explain the ideal location of the home you want to rent or buy in Spanish.

Spanish sentenceEnglish equivalent
Estoy buscando una casa en las afueras.I’m looking for a house on the outskirts.
Estoy buscando un apartamento en el centro.I’m looking for a flat in the centre.
Quería comprar un dúplex cerca de la estación de tren.I would like to buy a duplex near the train station.

Questions to ask about rent and the apartment construction history

Ask these questions to learn about the building and financial expectations of renting.

Spanish sentenceEnglish equivalent
¿En qué año construyó este edificio?What year was this building built?
¿Cuánto es el depósito para alquilar esta casa?How much is the deposit to rent this house?
¿La casa tiene una chimenea?Does the house have a chimney?
¿Cuánto es el alquiler cada mes?How much is the rent each month?

Questions to ask about the specifics of the building/house

Learn about the specifics of the building/house by asking the estate agent these questions.

Spanish sentenceEnglish equivalent
La casa tiene que tener dos habitaciones.The house must have two bedrooms.
¿La casa tiene tres cuartos, no?The house has three bedrooms, right?
¿Cuántos carros caben en el garaje?How many cars fit in the garage?

Contractual words to learn if you want to rent or buy real estate in Spanish

In the table below, you’ll find words you should know if you want to talk about a rental or sale contract in Spanish.

Do you know some of these?

Spanish sentenceEnglish equivalent
La escrituraThe deeds
El depósitoThe deposit
El pago inicialThe down payment
La hipotecaThe mortgage
El desahucioThe eviction
El pago en efectivoCash payment
Los cargosThe charges
La licencia de obraThe building license
La comunidad de propietariosThe community of owners
Se alquilaTo rent
Se vendeFor sale
El tipo de interésThe interest rate
La tasaciónThe appraisal
El arrendadorThe landlord
El notarioThe notary
La residenciaThe residency permit
El arrendatarioThe tenant
La segunda viviendaThe second home
La cláusulaThe clause
Los subvenciónThe subsidy
A reformarTo reform
Buen estadoGood condition

Go house-hunting in Spanish with confidence

That’s it.

You should have all the vocabulary and phrases you need to buy or rent a house, villa or flat in Spanish.

The only tasks ahead of you now are to head to a real estate website or pagina web and find the ideal home for you and your family. Try to remember the vocabulary in this article, ask the right questions and take note of the characteristics of the home.

You’ll soon find yourself settled in your comfortable new dwelling.

Did I forget anything?

Let me know in the comments below.

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