Written by Richard Way,
Last Modified: 19th February 2020

2020 is marching along but there’s time to buy a home abroad before the early summer (and maybe keep your EU rights within the transition period too). Here’s your seven-step guide to getting it done!

Establish your budget carefully

Start by working out what how much you have to spend in Sterling. You may be using savings, inheritance money, equity release or the proceeds from the sale of your UK home, or a combination. Whichever it is, be sure to be realistic, don’t over-stretch yourself and remember you won’t really know your buying power until you know how much your funds are worth in euros or whatever the local currency is where you purchase.

Don’t miss your free tickets to Your Overseas Home in Manchester on 25th April – the show dedicated specifically to helping serious buyers get expert advice from estate agents, lawyers and specialists in tax, currency, removals and more for France, Spain and Portugal.

Ours at last! A home in the sun…

Register with Smart Currency Exchange

Once you’ve opened a no-obligation account with the currency exchange experts, chat with your dedicated account manager about your buying timeframe and how much Sterling you have to spend. They will guide you on the different solutions for transferring money, ultimately helping you to establish what you have to spend in the local currency of your overseas home. You may decide to use a forward contract, allowing you to secure an exchange rate for the day you need to pay a deposit or complete on your purchase. Once you have an idea of your Sterling and foreign currency budgets, you can start looking seriously at suitable destinations and property types. To learn more about how Smart Currency Exchange can help you with payments for your overseas property purchase, down their free guide, The Property Buyer’s Guide to Currency.

Decide on your area

You probably already know the country you want to buy in, so with one eye on your budget, you can start to pin down your preferred area(s) or towns and resorts. Don’t let your heart take control – think practically! Keys things to consider include: accessibility, including transfers and frequency of flights from the UK; the seasonality of your resort, especially if you want to visit in the winter months; whether you want to be somewhere rural, coastal, traditional, touristy or modern; how close you need to be to bars and restaurants, amenities or the beach; and whether you want to be around other expats, amongst the local population or a bit of both.

Read more about buying a home in your favourite country by clicking on the link: France, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Cyprus, Greece, USA, Canada, Turkey, UK, Ireland

Choose your lawyer

That you should employ an independent lawyer to protect your interests when you buy abroad is a no-brainer. It also makes sense to appoint one early on in the process, even before you’ve started viewing properties. It means your lawyer is on-standby ready to field any queries you have or check a reservation contract once you find a property. But equally important, your lawyer can start some of the legal administration required to become a property-owner, such as applying for a tax identification number or opening a bank account. In some destinations popular with expats, Brexit has caused delays in the granting of tax identification numbers to foreigners, so the sooner your lawyer can start applying for these, the better. It’s often worthwhile granting your lawyer power of attorney.

Your lawyer can start some of the legal administration required to become a property-owner, such as applying for a tax identification number or opening a bank account.

Nail down your property priorities

Thinking about your ideal property, make two lists – one for your must-haves and the other for your like-to-haves. The first one should include things you won’t compromise on, such as number of bedrooms, private pool, off-road parking; the second should cover things it would be nice to have, which could include a sea view, two bathrooms or a solarium. The list may change along the way, but it’s a starting point for you to show your estate agent.

A good agent will help make your search much faster and more focused.

A good agent will help make your search much faster and more focused.

Pick an estate agency

You’re ready to start researching properties and lining up viewings. Buyers tend to stick with one, sometimes two, estate agencies when purchasing abroad and let them do much of the searching for them. Good agents will be able to source any properties matching your wish-list in their local area, often working in partnership with other agents whose listings might include a suitable property for a client. Start building a relationship with your agent by phone and email, asking them to send you details of properties they believe could be suitable for you. You can show them others you might have found on-line. Work with them to compile short-list of properties to go and view.

Go on a viewing trip

It’s time to really make things happen! Speak to your agent and organise a week, or long weekend, when you can fly out and view your chosen properties with them. Let them put together a flexible timetable for your time there – they’ve done this hundreds of times, they know what works – and be open to suggestions of other properties they might have unexpectedly come across. At the same time, don’t be afraid to say no to viewing something you don’t like the look of. Typically, your agent will offer to organise hotel accommodation, transfers from the airport and even the odd meal out – accept as much or little of their hospitality as makes you comfortable. A good agent only wants to help as much as possible, but understands that some people prefer more time on their own. Thanks to the preparation you have done prior, you should be in a position to make an offer during your viewing trip. And if it doesn’t happen the first time, it’ll happen during your next trip, or the one after…!!

For more tips on getting the most from your viewing trip, download the free Viewing Trip Guide.

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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