Buying a property abroad, either to live in yourself or as an investment, is something many people find appealing. But it’s something which Covid has made impossible over the last couple of years. Now that travel is slowly returning to normal buying abroad is something more people might be considering again.
Here are a few things you must consider if you’re thinking of buying or investing in property abroad.
First, why buy property abroad?
First you must consider why you want to buy a property abroad. You might want to live there yourself permanently or it might be a holiday home. You might want to buy for investment and then rent it out as a holiday property or perhaps a local buy to let.
All can be perfectly good reasons but it’s best to be crystal clear as to why so that you can choose the best property for the job. For example, a property that works well for your own holidays might not be great for letting.
Can you even buy property abroad?
You must check what rules apply to non-nationals and non-residents buying in the country you’re interested in. In most countries it is possible but some restrict what you can do.
Will you be able to live there?
If you plan to live abroad or just stay there for long periods you’ll need to check what the rules are. Most countries restrict the time non-nationals can spend there without applying for residence.
A major change here has been the rules applying in EU countries as a result of Brexit. As a general guide UK passport holders can only stay in an EU country (certainly those within the Schengen area) for 90 days out of every 180 days. To stay longer you will need a long term visa or residency in that country. As this can be a complicated process it’s best to check before you decide to buy.
The exchange rate
It’s sensible to check the exchange rate applicable to the country you are buying in before you start looking. See how far your money will (or won’t) go. Very importantly, bear in mind that fluctuation in the exchange rate between now and when your purchase goes through can make a property more expensive (or cheaper) than you expected when you agreed to buy it.
Travel routes and costs
If you’re planning to live abroad some of the time, or holiday there, check transport connections and costs.
Remember that budget airlines open and close routes frequently so just because you can get a cheap flight to your second or holiday home now doesn’t mean you’ll always be able to.
You must check running costs for the country you’re planning on buying in. Bills including the equivalent of Council Tax/rates can be really high in some countries, yet in others very low.
If you’re planning on letting out your property either long or short term check to see if there is an agent who can do this for you, as well as attend to any maintenance etc., and find out what they will charge.
Buying costs and the buying process
You must check what the buying process is in the country concerned. Check what legal fees you will have to pay and what the purchase taxes will be. Also check if the buyer is expected to pay any of the estate agent’s fees as is the case in some countries.
You need to do market research. Much more market research than you would do for a UK purchase.
Check local prices and price trends. A price that seems a bargain compared to UK prices might not be a bargain in another country. Find out whether asking prices are fixed or if there is room for negotiation, as in the UK.
If you’re buying for investment check what kind of rent it is reasonable to expect. Not just that, check what the demand is like whether for holiday or permanent lets.
If you’re planning to live in your overseas property part or full time check what the local amenities are like. For example, shops, health services and public transport. Places that are busy and have lots of amenities in the holiday season are sometimes deserted out of it.
Finding an overseas property
You can find overseas properties for sale either through a UK property portal or a UK agent, or through an agent or local advertising in the country concerned.
Remember that just as in the UK it’s never really a good idea to buy a property or investment abroad without actually viewing it and checking out the area first!