Buying a property overseas – what you need to consider

Buying a property overseas is something many expatriates consider, especially when the international move is long term. Some expats opt to rent first, to get a feel for the area, and then go on to buy later.
In most countries, buying a property follows a similar process to the UK, although each location has its own quirks. Regardless of your destination, however, here are some things to consider when looking to buy abroad.

Get professional help

Consider using an experienced professional service during the home-buying process. You need to work with someone who understands the real-estate market in your country of choice, can advise on property prices and help secure a deal.
When looking for a property in the first place, engage the services of a good, local estate agent. There are usually estate agents who specialise in helping expatriate buyers. The right agent can be invaluable; they can watch out for new properties that meet your criteria and keep you informed of developments.
Use an independent surveyor and get a valuation done as well – they ensure you know what you are buying. It’s not always possible to visit your new home as often as you would like in the early stages, so these reports are essential to help you make a good decision.
You should also hire a legal advisor who can liaise with the sellers or developers on your behalf. It’s important they understand the real-estate laws in your new country and can communicate in the local language. Documents and contracts are often prepared and submitted in the native language, so having a trustworthy and reputable legal team to help advise and inform is key.

Do your research

When buying a home abroad, give yourself as much time as possible. It helps if you can visit the location to get a feel for the area and to scout out potential neighbourhoods that suit you and your family. This includes looking at the local schools, facilities and transportation.
You should also research the local real-estate market to see what kinds of homes are available, their prices, and to spot any trends that could help you make a valuable investment. You will also need to research the country that you are buying in. Some countries have restrictions on foreign purchases.
After finding a property, it is always worth seeing it in person if possible. Ask as many questions as you can, and do a thorough inspection. Find out what you can about the area and any future developments that may affect your home.

Counting the cost

Buying property comes with a lot of additional financial concerns. If you require a mortgage, you can get this in the UK through a bank with international branches. Alternatively, you could go through a foreign bank in your new home country. It’s also worth researching exchange rates and money transfer fees, for when you need to move money to pay for the purchase.
There will inevitably be additional payments to make. There will be the fees for your financial advisor, legal advisor and estate agent. In some locations, you will be charged stamp duty on your property purchase. You may also need to pay an annual property tax, community fees (especially if you are buying in a development), council tax and other services.
You will also have to consider the costs associated with a move abroad. Using an international removals service helps with the practicalities of getting your belongings from the UK to your new home, so it’s one less thing to worry about.
The decision to make an international move and buy a property abroad is one that comes with a lot of decisions and research. However, with the right planning and preparation, you will soon be relaxing in your new home.