Taking the plunge: Top tips for buying abroad
Deciding to relocate abroad can be a life-changing experience. But to avoid some of the pitfalls of foreign property purchasing, follow our useful tips.
It could be the terminally unpredictable and so often disappointing weather we endure, year upon year. Perhaps it’s the fact that we love holidaying abroad, and have a habit of falling so madly and utterly in love with foreign places (or, perhaps more accurately, a place at a specific moment in our lives) that we can’t help but try to move there. Either way, there’s no denying the British have a penchant for seeking sunnier climes.
And for good reason, too. Choosing to relocate abroad can be a liberating, life-enriching experience, and given the ridiculous nature of the UK property market – the perpetually inflating bubble – it can also offer an opportunity to free up some capital to ensure you enjoy that new life. On the other hand, there are plenty of horror stories about people putting all their cash into a dream life elsewhere in the world, but wind up losing everything instead. Fear not, though, we’re here to help, so take a look below for our top tips when buying property abroad.
Know the market
It seems obvious, but this is the most fundamentally important thing to understand. To avoid nasty things like negative equity, unexpectedly high tax rates and ridiculous red tape it’s vital to have a good awareness of the place where you’re looking to buy.
Get to know the neighbourhood intimately: ask some of the other residents their opinion on living in the area and, where possible, try to speak with other expats about their experiences since they moved to the region.
Get an English-speaking estate agent
A huge number of bad experiences when purchasing overseas properties result from misunderstanding the legal framework. With this in mind, despite the lower costs that often result from buying direct from the homeowner, we say “look, it’s easier and safer to go through an agent”, not least if it’s your first time buying in this particular country.
Have everything translated by a neutral third party and hire a recommended solicitor
Even if you think the estate agent is up to the bilingual job, we say it’s imperative to get a separate translation of any documents and paperwork to ensure you fully understand the ramifications of what you’re signing. It’s also a good idea to shop around for a solicitor that specialises in helping foreign buyers to purchase property in the area.
Insist on a full survey of the land, utility connections and purchase liabilities
More so than in Britain, there is a chance that your property might not be connected to basic utilities such as sewerage, electricity, and water. Meanwhile, in some countries, liability for any unpaid bills automatically transfers to the new homeowner after the sale, even if you’ve only just moved in (or indeed picked up the title deeds).