Buying Property Abroad
Are you considering buying a property abroad, but unsure how to go about it or what you need to consider? Check out our tips.
Search far and wide for your overseas property
There are plenty of ways to find details on overseas property for sale. Many well-known property portals have overseas sections, including http://www.restlessearth.com. UK estate agents Knight Frank and Savills also sell overseas property. Developers often market new-build properties to UK buyers through the press or their own websites. Buying off-plan properties through developers (where the property has yet to be built) was once seen as a way to make a quick profit. However, there is increasing uncertainty about the likely value of the finished property or, in some countries, whether the property will even be completed. Look into the company’s reputation and, if possible, visit a development it has recently completed and talk to the residents before signing on the dotted line. You can visit local estate agents while you’re abroad, or find them through trade bodies, such as the Association of International Property Professionals (AIPP). Spend time talking to restlessearth.com about how the market has changed over the past couple of years and try and get some tips from them on the local areas. They may offer insider knowledge on the areas on the up – and those to avoid.
However, you should always take what estate agents say with a pinch of salt as, ultimately, their clients are the people trying to sell properties, no matter what neighbourhood they’re in. Talking to local expats could be far more eye-opening.
Consider whether you’re going to live in your overseas property
You can make impressive profits by letting out your property when you’re not using it, but there are risks involved, too. If the property already gets rented out for some or all of the year, ask the current owner about yields and how many weeks a year it’s typically occupied to give you an idea of the return you can expect. Don’t forget to factor in the costs of maintaining and cleaning the property between guests. Depending on how involved you are and whether you use an agency, renting out an overseas property can be time-consuming. See our guide on overseas property as an investment for a full list of things to consider. With timeshares, you buy the right to spend a certain period, usually a week, each year at a particular resort or group of resorts for a number of years.
Seek legal protection
It’s essential to employ an independent lawyer, with no connection to the developer or agent, who is fluent in both English and the local language. They should understand not only property law in that country, but how it relates to non-residents. They will usually need to be based in the country concerned, as much of the work will be done there. In European countries, and some others, you have to use a notary – an impartial government representative who oversees property transactions.