Written by Richard Way,
14th December 2018

If your New Year’s Resolution is to buy a home in the sun in 2019, or even to move abroad entirely, don’t wait until after Christmas. This is the perfect time to start your serious planning. Why not get the extended family involved too? Read our checklist for making 2019 your best year ever!

If I’ve discovered anything from my own property in Spain, and helping hundreds of others to buy around the world, it’s that eventually you’ll just need to get on with it! You may have been dreaming about it for years and made little progress beyond checking out the property listings. Perfectly understandable, it’s a big step. But follow our checklist and you’ll be well on your way.

If I’ve discovered anything from helping hundreds of others to buy around the world, it’s that eventually you just need to get on with it!

1. Work out your budget

Step back from the frenzy of Christmas for a few moments and take time to calculate what realistically you can afford to spend on a foreign property in 2019. Many people will be hoping to buy outright with cash, whether from selling their UK home or downshifting. But you might be able to keep your UK home by using savings, pensions or selling the odd heirloom or two. Or maybe go in with friends and family and split the cost (and work!).

Others will need to borrow money. If you’re expecting to buy with a mortgage, it’s best to speak to a mortgage broker and get an agreement in principle. If you do it before you view property you’ll be deemed a serious buyer and be better placed to negotiate. The good news is, mortgage rates are still very low, especially in Europe, thanks to European Central Bank rates remaining at historic lows.

How about equity release? Read our new guide How to Pay for a Spanish Property. It explains the various versions of equity release even if you’re buying in a different country.

Just remember though, until you know for sure what your funds are worth in euros, you don’t really know how much you have to spend in a Eurozone country. Speak to Smart Currency Exchange directly on 020 7898 0541, or download their really handy currency guide for property buyers.

Planning your move abroad

Plan your Great Escape abroad this Christmas

2. Get browsing!

Armed with your budget and an idea of the resort or area where you’d like to buy, it’s time to get browsing on-line. What better way to fill those periods of festive downtime? While the rest of the family are dosing in front of the TV after a belly-full of turkey, you’ll be planning the most exciting present they’ll ever get – a holiday home in the sunshine!

Start by checking out our own property listings for Spain, France, Portugal or Italy. For property over €500,000 we have a brand new website, Distinction. Take note of the useful gizmo at the bottom of each property. It illustrates how a property’s sterling price has changed over the past six months.

Before long you’ll develop an overview of the areas and types of property that match your wish-list and budget. Send us an enquiry about any property you like and we’ll put you in touch with the agent.

3. Contact our partner agents

We know that our readers really value being put in touch with a trusted estate agent. (In our most recent survey, 72% of readers asked us for estate agent recommendations). After all, browsing on-line will only tell you so much about a property.

When you’ve found some homes to get the juices flowing, send an enquiry about them. The agent will get in touch. (If they don’t give, them a call in the New Year. Some expat agents use this period to return to the UK to visit family.)

Property Guides will be at five Your Overseas Home shows in 2019. See if one will be near you.

The agent will evaluate your preferences and budget, and advise on how suitable your property choices are. A good agent’s local knowledge and experience make their guidance at this stage invaluable. They may know of other properties that match your wish-list too.

You could also book to visit some property shows in the New Year. Property Guides will be at five Your Overseas Home shows in 2019. See if one will be near you.

Register to visit a property exhibition

4. Viewing trip – get it in the diary!

Make a viewing trip the first thing you pencil into your sparkling new 2019 diary! Sit down with your partner and choose dates for flying out to do viewings in the New Year. You don’t even have to decide where exactly you’re flying to, just reserve some dates. You can then discuss your visit with your estate agent and when you’re ready, get on and book flights and car hire. As always, the sooner you book flights with the likes of easyJet and Ryanair the cheaper they are. Avoid the February half-term if you can.

5. Open a currency account

It’s never too early to plan how and when to exchange your sterling funds into euros or dollars. This is especially true as we head into 2019 and yet another year of Brexit-induced currency volatility. When you register with Smart Currency Exchange you can chat through your plans with your own named Personal Trader. It won’t cost you a penny and comes with no obligation.

One particularly good way to move your plans along this Christmas is to fix your currency with a forward contract. That way you will know your budget and be protected from a collapse in the value of the pound this year.

6. Download our guide

Our guide is the perfect tool to prepare you for all of the above. If you haven’t already read it, download it here today.

About The Author

Richard Way

Richard Way has been an influential and independent voice on all aspects of buying overseas property for over 15 years. He was editor of A Place In The Sun magazine, has edited books on buying in Spain, is a regular on the panel at Your Overseas Home, has appeared on the BBC and helped the Foreign and Commonwealth Office on expat matters. Richard is a property owner on the Costa Brava, Spain, and in Puglia.

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