A quick guide to buying your dream property overseas

We all do it… Sit there on a grey Monday morning, thinking about what life would be like on a beach with a cocktail in one hand, a good book in the other or perhaps a venture to play 18 holes on the golf course with the sun permanently beaming down. Oh and a little dip in the private pool wouldn’t go amiss either.

Yep, we all do it.

So what happens when you decide to make that dream a reality and begin the exciting, if a little daunting, journey to finally owning a property overseas?
Don’t fret, below we have set out 6 important steps to help make the overseas property buying process a little simpler for you.

1. Do your research

First things first, you need to ask yourself some simple questions to establish how you progress on your property buying journey:

  • Why are you buying a property abroad? (e.g. retirement, holidays, relocation, investment)
  • How will you finance your purchase? Do you have funds already available? If not, what do you need to do to put the funds in place?
  • What due diligence do you need a lawyer to carry out?
  • What are the costs of sending money in and out of a foreign country?
  • Do you understand the buying (and selling) process of the country you wish to buy in?
  • Do you plan to rent out your property when you’re not there?
  • You may not initially know the answers to all of these questions but it’s a good starting point for your research. There is a wealth of information available in books and online which will help you with your research, not forgetting those who have already made the leap and purchased a property abroad (online property buying and expat forums are great for this).

    2. Prepare your finances

    We know it can be so easy to get carried away, however, you need to be clear about how you will fund your property purchase. Are you a cash buyer? Do you have a pension you could put towards your property? Perhaps you require a mortgage? If so, will you release funds from your UK property, or seek another mortgage elsewhere?
    At this stage, it’s so important to plan accordingly so that you can manage your expectations in terms of your finance and the lifestyle you wish to lead. Also, don’t forget about those all important legal costs… no one likes to get caught out.

    3. Get the right legal advice

    The property buying process can vary from country to country, so it’s very important that you seek independent legal advice from a lawyer or solicitor. You may need them to help with translating and interpreting legal documents, so with this in mind, be sure to seek advice from a professional who specialises in the country you are buying in.
    As with any property purchase, there are some key legal aspects you need to consider:

  • Properties with no title deeds
  • Taxes being owed on the property that are then inherited by the buyer
  • Properties being built without planning permission which may have to be demolished
  • Any planned building work in the local community (this may have an effect on the price of your home)
  • 4. Make the most of your viewing trip

    This is where the fun really starts. With any property purchase, it is highly recommended that you go and visit the area to see it for yourself. You’ll get a great feel for the local surroundings, get to know people in the community, as well as meeting the seller face-to-face.

    Some companies will offer you the opportunity to go on an inspection visit; they will plan your itinerary so you can view a wide range of properties in a short space of time. This is a great option as it means you will be able to compare and see how houses vary in size and character in the local area.

    It’s very important that you don’t feel pressured to make a decision or sign anything legal at this stage (don’t forget your independent lawyer!). It’s normal for you to make your buying decision once back home and you’ve had time to digest all the information.

    5. Making an offer

    Once you have found your dream property, you will want to think about making an offer. At this stage you should mae sure you have an independent lawyer in place, your finances ready and think about how you’ll convert your currency.
    Did you know that you could save thousands of pounds when using a specialist currency company to buy your property? Specialist currency companies consistently offer better exchange rates than most banks for foreign currency transfers. They also have smart ways of protecting your money from fluctuating exchange rates between the points of agreeing to buy property abroad and completing on it, during which time the price in Sterling can vary dramatically. Some currency specialists will allow you to set a target exchange rate and call you to lock the rate for you, as soon as the market moves within your target rate range.

    6. Moving in to your new home

    You’ve found your property, your finances are in place, you’ve converted your currency and had all the relevant legal documents checked and signed, now it’s time for the most exciting part of the process… Moving in.
    At this stage, you have just a few more things to think about:

  • How will you transport your belongings to your new property?
  • Will your belongings be insured upon arrival?
  • Is the property itself insured?
  • If you are letting the property at any point, are those using it insured against personal injury?
  • What will the total cost of the move be including some contingency?
  • It’s important to have thought about the above well in advance of your moving day, to ensure you avoid any hiccups which might detract from your enjoyment on and after moving day.

    If reading this has whet your appetite for sun, sea and sand, check out Rightmove Overseas now.

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