Key things you should plan for before buying a property abroad

Buying a house overseas in search of a different way of life is a bold decision that many of us dream of fulfilling one day.

Some home hunters might be looking for somewhere where they can holiday for longer periods during the year, while others may be more interested in finding somewhere permanent to move to.

Buying abroad does need some thorough planning and thinking ahead.

1) Research your preferred location

Before deciding on your preferred location, you might want to consider several countries. Try to picture yourself living there, look into the cost of living at each place and decide which lifestyle suits you best, where do you get the best value for your money. Good transport links to the UK are also an important consideration.

2) Look into the risk vs. reward ratio

If you are planning to buy a property abroad for an investment purpose, assess all the risks involved even though you might be offered high returns on your investment.

3) Sort out your finances in advance

To minimise any delays and disappointments, it is a good idea to get your finances in order before setting your heart on a property.

If you need to sell a property in order to finance your overseas purchase, it is advisable to complete the sale before setting out to look for your new acquisition. It could be disappointing for you and the vendor if you cannot move ahead with the purchase as you can not sell your property in UK. At the other hand if you need a mortgage to fund your purchase, start the process in advance. Not all banks are in favour lending money for an overseas property. You might want to check if you can get a bank loan in the country where you plan to purchase the property.

Once you have found the right financial institution, get all the necessary documents to the lender to minimise any delays once you have found the right property to buy. Also rather importantly, decide which currency you need for the purchase and where possible try to agree an FX rate with the lender to minimise your exposure to any rate fluctuations. Even the smallest currency rate change could have a big impact on the final property price you will be paying.

4) Get reputable experts involved

In each country the property buying process is different, in some places there is a notary elsewhere a solicitor who overseas the process for the buyer or/and vendor. Also it is advisable to get a surveyor to check out the property you are planning to buy. The local town hall or tourist office should be able to give you a list of registered, reputable professionals.

Also make sure you understand all documents you are provided with for the property purchase. If you are not fluent in the language of the country where you plan to purchase, get a translator and interpreter involved. A small expense which will give you extra peace of mind.

Find out all costs involved for buying a property in the relevant country, Usually the notary or solicitor can give you a list of the associated costs (property transfer tax if applicable, legal and admin fees, service charges, council tax).

5) Choose a knowledgeable estate agent

Finding a suitable property is important but also being supported by an estate agent who understands the local market well to negotiate the best price for you; who is helpful by explaining the buying process and assist getting you in touch with reputable notary or solicitor, surveyor, translator, bank- is also a key factor. Most well healed estate agents will assist you with a number of after sales tasks as well (setting up your utility bills, council tax, TV licence, satellite and internet connection, property management, holiday rental, maintenance and repairs).

6) Check that you have the right visas and permits

Moving abroad or spending longer periods outside of the UK, might require you to have a visa or work permit. Also if you have pets coming with you, the local authorities need to be aware as in most countries the animals need a certificate and even a health check.

Some of these might take a while to obtain so you do need to plan ahead.

In case you are shipping your furniture and belongings to the receiving country, you might need to speak with local custom officers and even pay some duties. Try to find out beforehand what it involves and how long it will all take.

Having clarity over a time schedule of all factors involved in buying a property and moving abroad is crucial to minimise the stress.

After all buying a property or moving overseas can have its merits and challenges. To get the most out of it and minimise the risks, it's always best to plan ahead, do your research and think the details through.

8 Aug 2019

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