Top Tips for Buying a House Abroad

Monday, 10 Oct 2016

Buying a House Abroad

Buying a second home abroad or moving permanently to sunnier climes is something many of us aspire to. Buying a home abroad is a big step to take and it comes with a wealth of important decisions to make and many more things to think about. Send My Bag has put together ten tips to help you avoid any costly or stress-inducing oversights and to help your move abroad go as smooth as possible.

1.  Research, Research, Research

You will be in the best position to make an informed decision regarding your purchase abroad if you commit to researching your potential property and the surrounding area. Make a point of visiting the area several times before you decide to buy, to make sure that this is the right place for you and your needs. Once you have decided on a location, you will need to become fully aware of the protocol for buying a property in your chosen country, as well as your right to reside in that location. You will also need to look into your own financial situation, to make sure that you have the resources to make a commitment to buy. This includes being aware of property prices and all the many extra charges you might incur when making a real-estate purchase, including taxes, insurance fees, survey fees and lawyer fees. 

2. Think About Why You Are Buying a Property Abroad

You should decide what the principle reason behind your purchase is. This will inform what kind of research you carry out and what features of your property and location you prioritise. Are you buying a holiday home for only you and your family to enjoy? Are you planning to move abroad permanently, possibly for your retirement? Are you buying to let? Is your home abroad intended as an investment? If you are moving permanently or for your own enjoyment during private holidays, you should make sure the property and the surrounding area appeals to you as somewhere you can easily enjoy yourself and where you won’t get bored too easily. If you are planning on renting out the property, you should ask yourself whether you are willing to put in the work required. Will you be able to respond to booking requests and enquiries, as well as deal with any potential complaints? You will need to hire someone nearby to manage and clean the property if you will not be living close by yourself. Also, you need to ensure that you will be able to generate the rental income you require. If buying for investment or for rental, you should ensure the décor of the property is neutral enough to match general tastes.

3. Don’t Lose Money on Bad Exchange Rates

When you have made the decision to buy and had your offer accepted by the vendor, it is time to consider how you might pay for your purchase. You will probably need to transfer money from your bank account at home, at which point you may be hit by your bank’s poor exchange rates and potential fees. To avoid this, you should seek out a company specialising in foreign currency transfers, such as CurrencyFair. CurrencyFair is a website that allows you to transfer money internationally at much better rates than your bank.

4. Sort Out the Legal Side of Things

As buying a property abroad is one of the biggest steps you will take in your lifetime, it is vital that your purchase goes smoothly and that you fulfil all legal requirements. You should, therefore, seek independent legal advice to keep you right regarding issues such as title deeds, taxes, planning permission, planned development work, contracts, placing deposits, transferring ownership, etc.

5. Hire an Interpreter

If you are not fluent in the local language, make sure you hire a translator/ interpreter to translate any documents pertaining to the purchase of your property. This may be provided by your lawyer. You may also want to hire an interpreter/ guide to help you first scout out the area you are interested in and to ask the advice and opinions of local residents.

6. Rent Before you Buy

Why not consider spending a prolonged period in your intended location by renting a property. This will give you the scope to properly research the area, but it will also give insight into how the local rental market works – ideal if you intend to rent out your own property. You will learn about potential rental incomes, and how local landlords/ letting agencies interact with tenants. It is also a chance to experience local amenities and holidays and to get to know your potential neighbours – both fellow ex-pats and locals. This is also a means of checking out your potential competition in the rental market.

7. Beware of Buying Off-Plan

It is often riskier to commit to buying a property off-plan than a ready-built one, as the project could come up against a number of problems before, and if, it is built. Delays to completion could have a knock-on effect on your plans at home, and there is always the risk that the developer could go bankrupt, leaving you without your dream property and with little chance of receiving your deposit back.

8. Ship Your Possessions Abroad

Once you have the keys to your new property, and you intend to holiday/ set up permanently there, you will need to transport your possessions from home. Airlines are making it increasingly difficult and extremely expensive to bring any substantial amount of luggage with you. Having your much-loved possessions with you, however, can help to turn your new property into a home. So, why not ship your luggage to your new location using Send My Bag. Send My Bag has many international routes, with a great-value flat rate for each route up to a massive 30 kg. This means that you can bring your favourite clothes, books, DVDs, etc. to quickly help you set up home abroad.

9. Insurance 

Don’t forget to obtain insurance for your new property, in case anything unexpected occurs. If you are renting out your property, you should obtain insurance that offers personal cover for those using your property. Otherwise you may be liable if someone injures themselves. Shop around to find the best deal for you and seek help if you don’t understand the terms of your insurance policy.

10. Get Involved

If you are moving permanently or plan to visit your property on a regular basis, you should try to get involved with the local community. To help with any homesickness you might experience, you could join a local group of ex-pats, with whom you can reminisce about your home country. You should also try to integrate with local people too, whether simply by making conversation with your neighbours or by joining a local club. A significant hurdle to overcome may be a language barrier. It is imperative that you try to learn the local language. This can start well before you move, whether you take a formal class at home or simply teach yourself using books or one of the many online resources now available, such as language apps, websites like Babbel, or more substantial software such as Rosetta Stone. Most people you meet abroad will be thrilled that you have made the effort to learn their language and these people will be crucial to helping you become fluent. Moreover, mixing with local people will ensure that you get to know local customs so that you can communicate in ways that won’t offend!

Check out our guide to moving abroad for more great relocation tips from Send My Bag. If you are moving to the UK, you will want to read our advice on relocating to the UK. Want to move abroad but don't know where? Have a look at our Top Ten Reasons to Move to the USA and our Top Ten Reasons to Move to Australia.

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