Overseas Property: A Newbie’s Guide

If you’re thinking of buying an overseas property for the first time, then it can be hard to negotiate the maze. Buying property in the UK can be confusing and stressful enough and buying in a foreign country can be even harder. Language differences, legal quirks and unfamiliar bureaucracy can all contribute to the stress, and even put some people off buying altogether.

However, with lower prices across much of Europe, this could be a great time for first-timers to buy. Here are the key things to remember when buying overseas:

Do your research

Buying property overseas is seductive, and this often leads to impulsive decisions. But keep your head, even while you follow your heart. That crumbling pile in the hills might be your dream home, but it might also lead to huge regret. Before you start, find out everything you can about your chosen home and area.

Get thorough surveys done, and check to see if there is building work planned in the immediate area. Find out about local housing and rental price trends. Check out local shopping, nightlife and transport to get a thorough picture of what you’re buying into.

Get Legal and Financial Advice

Trying to decipher foreign legal contracts is difficult, if not impossible. Find a good, local, English-speaking solicitor and/or a UK-based solicitor specialising in overseas property. In particular, you should check that there is no outstanding debt on the property that you may inherit; and that the property owner has legal rights to the land on which it stands.

When it comes to finance, you can either get a mortgage in the currency of the country you’re buying in, or borrow against your UK property. Find a specialist broker who can help you work out which one is best for your circumstances.

Protect your future

Make sure that you take steps to keep your property protected. Good holiday home insurance is naturally a must, including cover for loss of rental income. See what you need to do to keep the property secure: timer lights when the property is empty, security lights outside, an alarm and good window and door locks are all good ideas.

Also make sure you keep up with maintenance checks to avoid sudden disasters which could lose you money and ruin either your or someone else’s holiday!

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