Guide to buying property abroad during coronavirus lockdown

The landscape for buying and selling property abroad is constantly altering due to the coronavirus pandemic, which has prompted unprecedented nationwide lockdowns across the world.

Whilst the global outlook is becoming more optimistic in 2021, with many economies expected to recover by early-2022, COVID-19 is still imposing many financial challenges. Many businesses have been forced to temporarily close and governments have implemented ‘stay-at-home’ or ‘stay local’ policies and social distancing measures in efforts to curb the spreading of Covid-19. Planes are grounded and non-essential travel and physical viewings are prohibited, which has disrupted the normal operations involved with buying property abroad.

Instead, homebuyers are using the latest technology and online platforms to take virtual tours viewing inside properties and surrounding neighbourhoods.

Many are also turning to social media to source investment hotspots and gain insight into living abroad.

Some first-time buyers are reserving properties having only seen them online and it may be that when the world emerges from the current coronavirus crisis, the way we buy and sell overseas property will have permanently changed.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), who officially declared the coronavirus outbreak a pandemic on March 11th 2020, COVID-19 has infected over 128 million people and claimed more than 2.8 million lives worldwide.

The coronavirus lockdowns imposed to halt the spread of the virus do not prevent buyers from moving into their newly built properties abroad, providing that there are no occupants, and essential information and keys are handed over remotely.

Banks and foreign exchange specialists such as Halo Financial are continuing to process international money payments to pay for the purchase of international property.

Whether you need to exchange currency for a deposit, outright purchase or mortgage payment on an overseas property, Halo Financial offers a service tailored to your needs.

They understand that buying overseas property and living abroad, particularly amid the current pandemic, can be a daunting prospect but their team of currency specialists will ensure the process is simple and stress free with the aim of maximising the value of your currency exchange.

Popular destinations for Britons such as SpainFrance and Italy are some of the countries worst affected by the coronavirus and lockdown measures have negatively impacted their second housing markets.

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How to effectively source overseas property amid coronavirus lockdowns?

Spain followed Italy in being the first European countries to be ravaged by Covid-19, and both countries each have a death toll upwards of 75,000 and more than 3 million cases of infection. Spain imposed a coronavirus lockdown mid-March 2020 and resultantly the country’s property and construction markets, alongside other non-essential areas of activity, began to stall.

According to property law firm Fuster & Associates, the Spanish property market resumed activity on April 13th 2020 with officials imposing strict procedures and action guidelines to ensure operations run safely and prevent further spreading of the virus.

Fuster & Associates noted that while it is not a complete return to normal business operations, the guidelines that have been introduced have brought about some semblance of normality to the international real estate sector.

David Fuster, a property lawyer and the founding partner of Fuster & Associates, said: “It is perfectly possible to purchase the home of your dreams here in Spain.” However, he advised buyers to “take additional precautions to ensure the quality, safety and efficiency of the purchase process.”

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Liaise with a lawyer

Appoint and speak with an independent lawyer, who will assure that all legal requirements for your overseas property purchase are adhered to by agents.

Your lawyer can begin to undertake the formal procedures associated with becoming a homeowner, such as applying for a tax identification number or opening a foreign bank account, to minimise the risk of delays in the buying process.

However, it should be worth noting that for those purchasing new build properties that are still under construction, they may encounter inevitable delays due to the coronavirus lockdowns, which will have disrupted construction timetables.

During the coronavirus crisis, many buyers have given lawyers power of attorney, allowing them to act on behalf of the purchaser in matters relating to their property transaction.

Buying property abroad through online property portals

Adapt to the current coronavirus restrictions and use certified online property portals to fulfil your overseas property investment.

Property websites such as RightmoveZoopla and OnTheMarket have overseas property sections that allow you to filter and compare properties in your chosen destination.

Virtual house viewings also allow prospective buyers to visually walk through a property, which will help narrow your search while offering a realistic viewing experience.

Invest your time in research during the lockdown, so that when restrictions ease, you can visit your preferred property without delay. Many companies have various tools at their disposal to help online buyers learn about buying overseas properties and living abroad.

Speak with an industry expert at Halo Financial to familiarise yourself with the financial procedures involved in currency exchange, as exchange rate fluctuations can significantly influence the cost of the overseas property you wish to buy.

Speak with a dedicated currency expert

Don’t overlook the importance of your currency transfer requirements.

If you’re buying a property in America and need to send US dollars (USD), you’ve found a dream property in Europe and need to make a payment in euros (EUR) or are travelling down under to Australia, proactively managing your currency requirements will save you much time and money.

Traditionally people think banks are the only option when facilitating overseas currency transfers but specialist currency brokers can provide added value for money. Halo Financial are authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and will offer you a competitive advantage through lower fees and better exchange rates.

All in all, Halo Financial provides an international money transfer service that will help you navigate your way to a dream overseas property through the careful management of your currency exchange requirements.

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