Buying property abroad? Top tips to follow

Buying a property in the UK is a hard-enough task and buying abroad is even harder to manage. From the language barriers that spring up when carrying out a transaction in a non-English speaking nation to the risk that standard property due diligence might be hard to secure, there are lots of reasons why many potential international buyers decide not to proceed.

But you shouldn’t let that put you off going ahead with an international property exchange. Just think of all the positives of making a move like that: from breaking into an international market which may well be more lucrative than the domestic one, to ensuring you have a holiday destination on tap for the rest of your life; there are lots of reasons to make the move. With that in mind, this article will share some top tips on buying foreign property.

Think about currency exchange

When buying a property abroad, you’ll have to transfer your cash from the UK to the new destination. You might be arranging mortgage finance with a lender in the new place, for example, or you may be buying directly from the seller. Either way, cash will need to cross borders at some stage in the process.

Depending on where you’re planning to buy, it could well be the case that the currency exchange rate will actually work in your favour. But if the relationship between the pound and the currency in your destination country isn’t great, then you could face problems – and you may in practice actually end up paying much more. In some cases, your only option may be to take the hit – but sometimes it’s worth waiting it out until the exchange rate moves in your favour.

Head, not heart

Getting into the market to buy a property abroad can quickly evoke romanticised notions of a beautiful cottage in the South of France or a villa on a Caribbean island. But the reality is often quite different, and just because somewhere is pretty it doesn’t make it necessarily a good investment. The market could be overheated in the location, for example, and you could end up losing money. Or you could find yourself purchasing what you consider to be your dream home, and then discovering it’s not actually the right place for you – leaving you with a property you might not have chosen if you’d had your commercial hat on in the first place.

As a result, using your head to assess the potential profitability rather than using your heart is a smart move. Sometimes, though, the best of both worlds can be found. If you’re looking for both a good investment and a travel destination, say, the Middle East is a good idea as it can tick both boxes – so following in the footsteps of leading regional property investors like Fahad Al-Rajaan may be worth considering.

Do your due diligence

If you were buying a property in the UK, there would be all sorts of obvious hoops to jump through. From securing a survey of the property to outline any structural issues to carefully reading through all of the information sent to you by the vendor, there are some tasks which are essential. And while for foreign properties the process required may be a little different, you should always seek to complete your due diligence no matter what. By speaking to a local property expert, you’ll be able to ensure you’ve covered all bases before you commit to a deal.

Get a translator 

Buying property abroad isn’t easy for a whole host of reasons. But perhaps the most pressing of these for many international exchanges is the language barrier. Unless you are a fluent speaker, it’s wise to give yourself the best possible chance of avoiding mishaps by hiring a translator. Crucial nuggets of information can get mixed up even if both parties have a medium level understanding of the languages involved, so it’s a good investment. When hiring a translator, you should ensure that they are able to work both orally and with the written word: that way, they’ll be able to accompany you to any on-site meetings as well as read over contracts and translate them before you sign.

Purchasing a property in a country other than Britain, then, is not a job for the faint-hearted – as there are all kinds of hurdles to jump before that happens. But by following the tips outlined here and doing everything from hiring a translator to carrying out due diligence, it’s possible to ensure that the transaction goes as smoothly as possible.