If you’ve ever thought of buying a property overseas but didn’t know how to go about it, we’re here to help get you started with some pointers.
What kind of property are you looking for?
If you’re looking for somewhere to live, or perhaps a holiday home in the sun, you will no doubt already be spending time looking at real estate websites listing foreign property.
The first thing you’ll need to consider is whether you are actually permitted to buy property in the country you’re interested in. There are many rules and regulations regarding immigration and foreign ownership, so save yourself the headache and focus straight away on the places you know you are legally permitted to purchase property.
Some countries, like New Zealand, explicitly forbid foreign home ownership, while in Australia owning a home and not living in it can bring hefty penalties. So make sure you do your homework first!
What kind of place do you want to buy property in? You might want to look in the heart of a city to stay close to shops and services, or seek out somewhere in the countryside where the pace of life is slower and things are a bit quieter.
If setting up a business is your aim, you’ll need to scan websites that offer commercial property for sale, and seek out recommendations from people already living in the area you intend to buy in.
If you plan on opening a shop then the building will need to consider how it will operate. Will it be large enough to display merchandise and cater for the needs of your customers, for example?
Indeed, what kind of space do you need? For a commercial property, finding somewhere with a lot of foot traffic is key for a ‘bricks and mortar’ shop, while online distribution or mechanical work would require a warehouse or workshop.
Should you plan on being in your new property year-round, make sure you have factored the local climate into your search criteria, ensuring you consider the temperature differences between seasons, which can be markedly different to ‘back home’.
Look before you leap
If you’ve seen a property you like the look of make sure you get a full buildings report compiled by an accredited inspector. They will be on the lookout for leaks or cracks in the walls, in addition to checking the heating and making sure taps, lights and windows all work correctly.
Furthermore, buying a property without first viewing it always entails risk, so to make sure your potential home or business is acceptable by inspecting it yourself.
The inspection trip can serve a dual purpose, as it can be an opportunity to take time off as a ‘scouting holiday’, in addition to making sure the property is shipshape.
When you go on your inspection visit, take note of the local area and get a feel for the resident community. What kind of shops are nearby? Are the local services good? How is the crime rate? These are all questions you’ll want to find out for yourself.
If you’re not up to a personal inspection yourself then you could get a trusted individual to take a look on your behalf.
Buying up – Getting the most out of your money
When it comes to the actual property purchase, there are a few things you can do to save money and make things go as smoothly as possible.
If you speak the local language then there should be no issue, otherwise it may be best to hire a legal professional to guide you through the buying process.
The UK government has an extensive list of accredited legal professionals, although you can, of course, find someone trusted yourself.
With the actual exchange of funds from pounds into the local currency, you can save a pretty penny by using the services of a currency broker.
The value of the pound changes constantly, so transferring money when the currency is weak could lose you money compared to when the pound is stronger.
Currency exchange companies like Currencies Direct are dedicated to getting the best exchange rates for you, with experienced account managers able to guide you through the currency transfer from start to finish.
Currency brokers offer a range of services; if you don’t want to make a transfer to buy a property immediately, for example, you can ‘lock in’ a favourable exchange rate with a forward contract.
What’s more, with all the legwork being done by currency experts, it’s very straightforward. In fact, it’s probably the easiest part of buying a property abroad.
This is just a brief overview of some things to consider when buying a property abroad, so keep an eye on the Everything Overseas blog for more property news and advice on overseas properties.