How to Buy Your First Property Abroad

By : Nick Marr

Buying property overseas is an increasingly popular option. No longer the preserve of retirees, it has, in fact, become popular with young people, some of whom invest in overseas property as a means of making money with which to buy a home in Britain. It can also be a great option if you want a holiday home, or if you’re thinking about moving abroad to work. If you haven’t done it before – or, indeed, haven’t bought a house anywhere before – what do you need to know?

Countries to consider

It’s possible that you’ve already got your heart set on a country where you want to live. If not, which are the best places to make money and enjoy the lifestyle? By far the easiest option for Britons is to buy somewhere in Europe. You may have heard great things about Tuscany in recent years, and it remains a good option, but other areas of Italy also hold a lot of promise. Turkey continues to have a lot of good investment properties, with apartments in Istanbul particularly promising. The new kid on the block is Hungary, which offers properties in beautiful scenic locations, though many are in older buildings, so you’ll need to check their condition carefully.

Learn about the location

As well as carefully viewing the property itself, you’ll need to know that the area you’re investing in has good facilities and is going in the right direction socially and economically. The best way to do this is to talk to people who live locally – especially ex-pats if you’re planning on living there yourself. That is also a good opportunity to get recommendations for local professionals if you’re going to need help with restoration work, and for a letting agency if you plan to make money by renting.

Get legal advice

Buying property abroad means having to deal with a lot of unfamiliar laws and regulations. While you can research the principal issues about a country for yourself, there may be local issues that you need to deal with, and details of the arrangements between countries are always changing. To ensure you don’t get in trouble, you’ll need to find independent legal advice. That will also help to protect you from scams, though you should still make sure that you see the property deeds for yourself before signing over any money.

Establish your liabilities

In some countries, debts and obligations can be attached to properties, and sellers don’t always advertise these to prospective buyers, so you will need to do your research. You should also check whether the property has ongoing commitments to particular utility companies and that all basic utilities are in place and can be kept running without contractual complications.

Get your finances in place

Finance is always a tricky area when you’re buying a property, and there can be additional complications when you’re doing so overseas. Small changes in the exchange rate can have a significant impact on your mortgage payments, so it’s important to make sure you have a deal that will protect you. Shard Capital provides independent financial advice and has experience with international deals of this type and scale. The experts at Shard can help you establish the investment value of the properties you’re interested in and to secure the right kind of mortgage.

Purchasing additional properties

If you’re looking at buying additional properties in order to invest, you’ll find that things become more complicated. Some countries have rules restricting the number of properties foreigners can own, or even on the way in which locals are permitted to develop property portfolios. Again, getting independent legal and financial advice will help you to navigate this situation so that you can take advantage of opportunities. The big advantage you’ll have when buying additional properties is your existing knowledge of the market.