Top Tips For Buying A Property Abroad

Buying a property is stressful enough when you’re buying it in the country you live already. Buying a property abroad is even more of a challenge, whether you’re planning to move abroad, buy a vacation home for yourself, or buy an investment property to rent as a home or a vacation let. If you’re buying a property that is in a country that you aren’t in it's hard, but not impossible. You need to do a lot of research before you buy, to make sure you’re making the right choice. 

  1. Ask a lot of questions about where the property has been built before considering it too seriously. For example, you need to know if the land the property has been built on should have been set aside for land agriculture or a green belt. Does the land have a history of flooding or other problems? Make sure you know about potential problems before you start the process of buying anything. 
  2. Bring in an independent lawyer to help you and to give you advice. Ideally, you want this lawyer to speak both English and the local language of the country you are buying in. If you’re buying real estate in a foreign country, then it will help a lot to have someone locally who can help you to understand local laws and make sure you aren’t being ripped off. A local lawyer can also help you to avoid any potential permit issues that you might miss. 
  3. Research the area. You want to know plenty about the location you’re planning to buy a property in so you aren’t caught out with any nasty surprises later on. You should find out if the area is known to experience earthquakes or volcanic activity. Do some research into what the neighborhood is like to live or stay in too. Is it noisy overnight? Is it considered to be a safe area? Is traffic a problem? All of these things could impact your ability to let the property if you’re buying it as an investment, as well as impacting your own enjoyment of it if you’re buying for you. 
  4. Look into the planning permission requirements in the local area. If you want to make any changes to a condo you’re buying, then you’ll need to know what kind of licenses and permissions you will need in order to do so. Your property may also need proper licenses to allow you to live there. Make sure you do this research thoroughly. If you don’t have the right permissions in place, then you may not be able to live in your property legally or set up things like utilities. 
  5. In some areas, poor construction can be a big problem. To avoid being caught out by bad construction, always get a valuation from a professional surveyor who is informed about the country you’re buying in. Even a new build should be checked over to make sure there aren’t any problems. Have the property checked for poor soil, insufficient foundations, substandard building materials, or questionable building locations like flood areas. 
  6. When you’re buying a property abroad, you will need to have an understanding of what you need to do with contracts. In many areas, you will only get one contract in the local language, which can mean you’re signing things without really understanding what you’re signing. To make sure what you’re signing is clear to you, you should get a professional translation done. If you get a copy in the local language, and the second copy in English, make sure you get the translation checked so you know the two copies actually do match up. 
  7. If you’re planning to buy an investment property in order to rent it out, either as a home or a vacation let, you need to think about how you will manage the property. Make sure you’ve factored in the cost of maintaining the property into your budget as well as the cost of just buying it. Are you going to manage the property yourself or are you going to employ a managing agent to look after it for you? A local managing agent is a good idea if you don’t live in the area, as they will be able to handle things like lost keys or repairs that are needed without you having to travel, saving a lot of time. Make sure that you can earn enough profit from renting your property out to cover the costs of hiring this management agent. 
  8. Think about other costs. If you’re buying the property to rent out, you will need to spend some money on it to make repairs and refresh it as wear and tear begins to show. How often you need to do this will vary on the kind of let you choose. A vacation let is likely to need more attention. As guests will only be staying in it for a short time, they’re less likely to worry about taking care of it. The high turnover of people staying there is likely to cause more wear and tear, so you’ll need more repairs, and therefore, more money spent on it. 

If you’re buying a property abroad, then it is very important to do a lot of research beforehand. Without proper research, it’s easy to accidentally get stung by not understanding the local laws or the permits you need. Don’t attempt to buy a property without bringing in a local lawyer to help you. You need to work with someone who speaks the language, so they can negotiate for you, translate contracts, and help you to understand everything you’re signing, the permits you need, and anything else that is confusing you about the sale. Don’t rush into any decisions. Buying any property should always be taken seriously, but this is especially true of buying a property in another country, as it can be very easy to get confused by local laws, and of course, it’s harder to arrange viewing any properties at all.

*Contributed by Sam Jones. *Image - free for commercial use

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