Top tips for buying a property overseas

Published:  25 Jul at 6 PM
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With an increasing number of Britons planning to emigrate and overseas property prices at a healthy low, it’s hardly surprising that the temptation of a home abroad is difficult to resist.

Motivations vary from investing when prices are low in the expectation that they will rise, through netting an affordable holiday home to living the dream in the sun after early retirement. However, unless research is undertaken, property dreams can easily turn into property nightmares.

Remembering that what goes up can also come down is an encouragement to research the real estate market history in your chosen location as well as a discouragement from getting carried away. Italy, Spain, Portugal and Greece are showing real estate bargains at the moment, but it’s best to begin researching prices on your own before consulting estate agents aiming at overseas buyers.

Some countries, especially in Asia, limit or even prevent ownership of real estate by foreigners, and even more prevent direct ownership of land. Avoiding scams or dodgy agents by doing your own research is essential if you’re considering purchasing outside the EU, with local online expat forums your best source of free information.

Using a trustworthy, reputable real estate agent or developer may not be the cheapest way forward but, in unfamiliar locations, it’s perhaps the safest. At best, pitfalls due to language difficulties can be avoided and. at worst, you’ll have a better chance of redress if a serious problem such as land title arises.

One essential is getting all documents related to the sale reliably translated before you sign or pass over any money. Dependent on your chosen country, this can be expensive, but ensures that you fully understand exactly what you’re getting as part of your overseas dream deal.
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