Purchasing your expat dream home can be a nightmare

Published:  31 Dec at 6 PM
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If you’ve had enough of Brexit, the weather, floods, rising prices and the UK government’s antics over the past three years, buying a property overseas might well be the answer.

For the vast majority of non-working expats, two issues form the spur for leaving the UK on a permanent basis – the rising cost of living and the fall in an acceptable lifestyle. Moving overseas isn’t a panacea for curing all ills, but it can provide a bolt-hole for those who get it right. Given that Brits are, reputably, a nation of homeowners, it’s normal for those emigrating to warmer, cheaper climes to rush out and buy their dream property in an exotic location – or even in Spain!.

However, no matter where in the world you’re settling, property purchase pitfalls are much the same and can cost horrendous amounts to set right. Research has to be done and questions must be asked, with evasive replies or long-winded reassurances the first indication that all may not be as stated. Once you’re on the alert, the next step is to contact an English-speaking lawyer, preferably one who lives a good way from your chosen destination and isn’t best buddies with the developer.

Questions about the land on which your chosen property is built are mandatory, as there’s always the risk of it having being set aside for agriculture or being green belt land. Checking building permits is also essential, as the lack of same can result in demolition at a later date. Also, checking on activity in the region such as loud nightlife, nearby commercial estates, an unsafe neighbourhood or even floods and earthquakes will help prevent the mistake of a lifetime! Planning permission and licenses are the next hurdle as, in many countries, getting utilities depends on having the correct licenses for the build.

Another common issue is poor construction, with a final professional survey and valuation essential in identifying future issues. Other important issues are poor soil, inadequate foundations and substandard building materials. Finally, it’s essential to have your purchase contract translated into English by a professional, rather than accepting a poorly done version along with the original contract. It doesn’t matter where in the world you’re planning to settle, as the above is commonplace in the vast majority of expat destinations.
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