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December 2015

Buying Property Abroad

Published: Friday 11 December 2015

1. Firstly, you need to find a destination country and a property.

That varies on your aims - investment, residence, part-time occupation etc. It also varies depending on whether you're looking at a country that's a part of the EU or not. If you're buying within the EU then moving and buying will be much easier due to EU laws, which are very similar to laws within the UK. However, laws outside of the EU tend to be more complex and difficult to understand, especially if they are written in a different language. No matter where you move, it's important that you find a good estate agent via word-of-mouth or through a professional organisation. Researching and being prepared are essential for buying property overseas.

2. The next step is to research both your destination country and your business model.

If you're buying in hope of eventually renting or selling then be sure to do your research on the area, market strength, local economy performance and upkeep costs. Some overseas buyers hope to rent out their property during winter months, if they're using the property as a holiday home - if this is you, then be sure to check that you are able to carry out a short-term let and gather an idea of likely income.

3. Save yourself money by shopping around for mortgages and currency specialists.

While interest rates for overseas mortgages are usually lower than mortgages in the UK, lending criteria and loan-to-value regulations have been tightened in many places after the bursting of housing bubbles and detailed documentation will usually be required to prove you can afford to buy. Allow yourself plenty of time to shop around for the best price. Similarly with currency conversion, allowing yourself plenty of time could save you a small fortune due to currency volatility. Find currency specialists, like Halo Financial, as soon as you know you want to buy and they can find you the best rates and help you take advantage of this volatility in the markets to save you money.

4. If you plan to live abroad then work out your tax, healthcare and pension requirements.

Familiarising yourself with the different monetary regulations and healthcare plans will give you a better idea of whether living in your destination country will actually be beneficial to you long-term. If you're a Brit moving within the EU then you can claim the UK state pension and it will rise annually. However, if you move outside the EU then it won't rise. Many UK-based pension schemes will pay only in sterling, or only into a UK bank account, leaving your future income at risk from currency fluctuations. Again, it is best to research this and find out as soon as possible.

5. Seek expert advice from a lawyer who specialises in property and can speak English.

This is important and should certainly be planned for, as it happens too often that expats come up against language barriers and sign something they don't fully understand. This can come back to bite you, so it is always recommended that you seek expert legal advice and guidance. They will also have knowledge of the area and the locals so can steer you from dodgy companies or deals.