Buying a property in a different country can be a rewarding experience, providing you with a place where you can escape, bask in the sun, experience a new country or settle down for retirement.

The path from thinking about a purchase to stepping through the front door on moving day isn’t entirely straightforward however, so here are some top tips to help make the process as easy as possible.

1. Get your legal details in order

The first step on the path to buying a property abroad is to actually make sure you can buy the property you’ve got your eye on. Some countries are extremely welcoming to foreign buyers, but others try their best to favour national ownership by taking measures like introducing foreign buyer tax. Make sure you research the laws surrounding foreign property purchase in the nation you’re interested in well ahead of time to avoid any nasty surprises.

Once you’ve found the property of your dreams and have taken adequate time to make sure everything’s in order, get everything agreed on paper before you commit yourself to the purchase. The vast majority of foreign sellers are legitimate, but there are unfortunately a few rotten apples that might try to sell a bad deal. This could include ‘selling’ a property that belongs to someone else, or advertising a house that is only half constructed.

Getting written confirmation of the purchase provides a fall back in case something goes awry, so at the very least you should be covered in the eyes of the courts.

2. Check out the property yourself (or get an expert in)

If you’ve almost settled on the perfect home, there are precautions you should take to make sure all is as it seems.
Taking a trip yourself to have a good look around is the best option, but you can always get a lawyer or architect to investigate in your place if you can’t visit. The main things to check are whether there are any outstanding bills attached to the property that you might have to pay, that the house is in good condition, and that all the utilities are in working order.

It can also be wise to acquire local knowledge about the area, from finding out basic info like if the winters are snowy and summers are scorching to more important information about the local amenities. For the home itself, check if the water needs filtering, what the internet connection is like and that electricity is in constant supply.

If the property is part of a development, visiting other projects by the same developer is always a good idea if you want to make sure that there aren’t any recurrent issues.

3. Get help from an English-speaking lawyer or translator

Property law can be baffling enough in your native tongue, so even fluency in another language might not be enough to navigate overseas housing law.

Help is at hand however, as there are plenty of English-speaking lawyers across the world who can guide you through foreign property markets. You could also contact a UK property lawyer who operates in other countries, but in either case check their credentials and that they are fully qualified.

As well as using a lawyer to get you around the legal aspects of a property purchase, it can also help to employ a translator, though a native lawyer might be available for both services.

Translators can handle face-to-face discussions with the property seller or their agents and may even help you on the path to integration. It’s good to shop around for a translator as there are sometimes big differences in charges for the same basic service.

If you found these tips useful, join us for more in Part Two!