Top Things to Consider When Buying a Property Overseas – (Part One)
Whether you’re buying an overseas property to live in, to use as a second/holiday home or as an investment, there are certain things you need to consider – beyond house size, style and price!
Here we take a look at the top things you should think about when buying an overseas property, starting with the most fundamental – Where, Why and How.
Before you do anything else it really is important to sit down and devote serious time to thinking about why you want to buy an overseas property.
What you intend to do with the property you purchase can make a big difference to where you focus your property search, what kind of property you buy and how much you’re willing to spend.
For example, if you’re buying a property to let you’ll need to research rental markets and will probably either need to buy a property that’s already in good condition or one which can be renovated quickly.
If you’re buying a property for investment purposes on the other hand, you may need to do some in-depth location research and investigate housing market trends to see whether you stand a good chance of making a return on your outlay.
Meanwhile, if you’re looking to buy a property to live in yourself your approach to finding it is more likely to be led by your emotional responses to the building/area than by figures.
In all of these circumstances remember, while falling in love with a property is great, getting carried away can lead to disaster! Having a firm idea of why you want the property and what you want to get from it in the long term will make it easier to narrow your search, and might even help you keep your budget in check.
Once you know why you’re purchasing an overseas property you need to narrow down the where. Before you start looking at individual properties, make sure that the country and region you’re looking in are 100 percent right for you.
Whether you’re intending to live in the property or not it’s always better to have visited the area in which it’s situated – and not just once during a holiday. In order to get a realistic impression of the area visit during different seasons (when possible), do plenty of research and talk to locals/other foreigners who own property in the region. Local town halls, bars and restaurants can be great sources of information.
Investigate what the cost of living is like in the area and what sort of wages are achievable etc.
And always look into the property market in the area your considering. Are values going up or down? Are there any factors (approved building developments etc) which could significantly alter the value of your property over the next couple of years? Are there any environmental considerations you’ll need to prepare for?
Property purchases, whether overseas or not, nearly always come with delays and unexpected additional costs. Therefore, knowing exactly how you’re going to be funding your purchase is essential.
Before you make any firm decisions work out a detailed and realistic budget. Make sure you know exactly how much you can afford to spend, vague estimations won’t do! In your budget factor in all costs – not only the purchase itself but things like getting the utilities connected and furnishing/decorating your property.
Earmark some money for unexpected or emergency situations, and (if possible) set aside more than you think you’ll need so that you can cover yourself in most eventualities.
If you’re using the sale of an existing property to fund your overseas buy you can save a serious amount of money by planning in advance how you’re going to convert your money. Currency exchange brokers are typically cheaper to use than banks, can offer a more competitive exchange rate and can provide advice on protecting yourself from negative fluctuations in the currency market. Currency brokers like TorFX allow you to fix a favourable rate up to a year in advance, ensuring that you get the most for your money.
Another important financial aspect which should be considered before taking the plunge and buying a property overseas is how much it will cost you to get a flight home. You may not intend to go home on a regular basis, but emergency situations could crop up or you might find the estrangement from family more difficult to deal with than you had anticipated. Look up the average price of a flight for every month of the year so you know in advance just how much seasonal fluctuations could affect your travel costs. Knowing how much it will cost you to get back home at any time of the year might alter your plans, or it might just help you to budget your funds more effectively.
In the second part of Top things to Consider When Buying a Property Overseas we’ll take a look at a few of the legal and cultural issues involved!