Buying Property Abroad
A couple of decades ago it was still quite unusual for someone in Britain to consider buying a property abroad and if they did they would almost certainly be looking at Spain or France. Today, people are routinely buying properties abroad in exotic and unusual locations that many people would find difficulty in placing on the map.
Many factors have caused this change, including the emergence of low-cost airlines, new air routes, a growth of mortgages for property abroad, an increase of UK homeowners with sufficient equity in their main homes to borrow to finance a second home purchase, as well as a growing realisation of how much property you can get for your money and the low cost of living in many countries when compared with the UK. The improvement of technology means that many people can now work abroad, not being tied to an office in the UK.
If you fall in love with a property abroad it is vital to thoroughly research the practicalities of owning it. If you are buying investment properties abroad, is the local market emerging, or has the best potential for capital growth and good rental returns long gone? What is access like? It may enjoy the convenience of a low cost air route from the UK at present, but do you have a workable alternative option should this route be discontinued at a later date? If you need rental income to help fund the purchase, how realistic is it that you will attract an adequate level of lettings? If you wish to restore the property, will there be considerable hurdles to overcome, such as a lack of tradespeople in the locality with the necessary skills required, access problems to the property, or language difficulties? What is the legal process like for buying a property in the country in question, or the taxation position? There are many questions to answer if you want your property ownership to be straightforward.
Crucially, when you come to buy you need to be legally represented by an experienced, independent lawyer. The confusing maze of conveyancing laws in different countries open up considerable potential pitfalls for the ignorant and unwary. It is important to have the necessary safeguards in place to prevent you buying a property with no title, with no or inadequate planning permission, or that has also been sold to someone else or maybe that is subject to debts - or one of the many other pitfalls that could occur.
By Ben West