Ensuring your expat dream home avoids the dodgy deals trap

Published:  11 Mar at 6 PM
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One of the most exciting aspects of emigrating is the thought of a new home in attractive surroundings at a bargain price compared with property in the home country.

However, with dodgy property deals everywhere from Europe to the Caribbean and Asia hitting the headlines, how are you to avoid your dream becoming a nightmare? Mis-selling scandals, scams and downright poor management of condo blocks can all result in financial disasters for expat owners or investors.

Spain, Cyprus, Barbados and Thailand are all in the news right now, with tales of property speculation bubbles, demolitions due to fraudulent building permits and off-plan villas paid for but never completed causing misery amongst those caught out. The Cyprus scandal is being investigated by the EU of, and British law enforcement is investigating mis-selling in Barbados and Thailand.

Expats who are determined to buy rather than rent are advised to take independent advice and check every aspect of the chosen property and its paperwork. An English–speaking lawyer, expert in the real estate sector and with no connections in the chosen locality, should be able to unravel any traps or doubtful legalities.

Permits, planning permission, previous ownership, licenses and other permissions should be just some of the issues under the spotlight before you part with your cash. Permits for access to water and electricity as well as road access should be especially examined if you’re having a house built in a rural area.

Employing an independent surveyor from outside the area to check the construction as well as the finished property is essential, and a valuation should also be provided once your home is certified as fit for the purpose. Checking the small print on your contract is another must, and if you’ve been given a translation of the contract as well as the original, a professional comparison will discover any discrepancies.
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