Should I Stay or Should I go: Buying Property Abroad

In the 10 years leading up to 2011 3.6 million Britons upped sticks in search of the sun, and 66% of those expats confirmed that they are now happier and enjoy a better quality of life in their new country. If you are looking to join the ranks of those relocating, whether it be for permanent emigration or a holiday home, follow our handy guide to buying property abroad.

Know what you're Looking for

Browse properties before going to view them, and ask yourself exactly what you want in a property abroad. Your requirements may depend on what the property is being used for – if this is for permanent residence, you will know what is important to you in your current home, and what traits are necessary and what could be negotiated on. For example, would you prefer to be in the middle of town or in a more secluded spot? Other factors to consider are the distance from the beach, what local amenities are available and what the neighbours will be like.

However if the property is to be used as a holiday home, you may wish to consider additional factors such as space for visitors and where the closest airport is.

Knowing what you want will help you be thorough in your search and avoid any delays if you forget to find out important information before the buying process begins.

Know where and what to Buy

As with any property purchase, it's imperative to consider where you are looking to invest, and in what type of property. Figures show that the price of repossessed properties in Spain fell by 65% in 2012, making them a bargain for potential buyers, but repossessions are more likely to happen in areas where the value of homes will stay low. This is ideal for buying, but could cause issues if you want to resell in the future.

France is also a popular destination with low interest rates and property prices in Italy are starting to decrease as the result of their recent sluggish economy. However the sweet also comes with the sour, as property tax hikes affect buyers in France and mortgage legal fees can reach extortionate in Italy. Researching the recent economic history and available rates in countries that you are considering buy in will ensure that you are getting the most for your money and buying in a secure environment when your investment is less at risk.

Know how to Buy

Discuss your plans with a solicitor and financial professional as this will allow you to quash any queries and ensure that you know what fees you can expect to face, so that you can set the correct funds aside. Setting up an overseas account with outgoing direct debits in the native country to your property will help you to manage costs and avoid further taxes. Setting up automatic payments and keeping in touch with overseas agents will ensure that you are fully informed and safe from being stung from additional charges – foreign banks are not lenient with those who do not maintain payments.

Know how to Save Money

Once you know what and where you're buying, you'll start to get an understanding of how much you'll need for a deposit. Remember to factor in taxes and solicitor fees. Using budgeting software is a good way to keep on top of your spending and make sure you meet your saving target, and look out for any money saving tips as every pound gets you closer to your goal.

You can also arrange a Regular Overseas Payment (ROP) plan to go from your UK based bank account, which can be arranged by several organisations who will exchange your money for the correct currency and transfer as necessary. However, using a specialist currency broker will be much more economical – for example, when buying a property worth £200,000, you can save up to £6,000 in fees. Most banks and organisations will offer this service, so check with your provider.

Rosie Percy writes for a variety of topics and across a range of industries including health, finance and education. Rosie lives and works in Brighton.

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