Buying property abroad? Here are some of the issues you might face


If you’re an expat planning your big move to a foreign country or you’re simply looking to expand your rental or investment property portfolio beyond the shores of the UK, you are likely to find it’s not going to be a simple matter. Buying in this country can be difficult enough, but once the myriad problems of international regulations and language barriers are taken into account it can be quite a daunting prospect.

But there is help at hand. By doing your research online before making any decisions and by speaking to experts in the field who know their stuff about international property, it’s possible to make sound decisions and enjoy either a life in the sun or the benefits of an international property portfolio. This article will look at some of the main hurdles involved – and how they can be overcome.

Rules and regulations

Firstly, buying a property abroad is sometimes a regulated activity – and it’s not always simple for a foreign national to snap up a property wherever they like, no matter how much purchasing power they may have. In China, for example, you may need to demonstrate a year of residency in order to buy a residential property there. A smart move, then, is to find a specialist who can do this research for you and advise you on where is best to invest.

Transferring money abroad

Whether you’re planning to buy outright in cash or you need to use a deposit in order to get a mortgage, it’s likely – in fact, inevitable – that you’ll need to send some money from Britain to the foreign country at some stage in the process. But if the currency in the country is performing well compared to the British pound, there could be a large spanner in the works as the value of what you can buy will go down.

If you need to move right now, that could be a big problem. If you can afford to wait for the currency markets to settle down a bit, though, you may be able to ride out the low point and give the markets a chance to shift back into your favour. Another way that you can cut the costs of an international money transfer for property purchasing purposes, however, is to search for the best deal on fees. They are the commissions charged by a broker: by using a money transfer comparison site, though, you can find the lowest fee levels and save some cash on your transfer.

Cultural barriers

But there’s more to think about than simply the financial impact of your property purchasing decisions. There are also cultural issues to think about as well. Take the example of language. If you’re buying a place in a European country like Spain or France, there are no guarantees that your buyer or their agents will have enough of a grasp of the English language to converse in the specialist manner required for a property exchange. Hiring a specialist international property purchase advisor is a good way to get around that problem.

And even if you’re buying in an English-speaking international property hotspot such as Australia, you’ll still need to navigate other cultural differences – such as the speed, or otherwise, with which estate agents get information over to you, or the accepted norms when it comes to negotiating a purchase or sale price. In those scenarios, it may be worth researching online and asking on property forums about the etiquette involved.

The impact of Brexit

With Brexit on the horizon, it could well be about to become much harder for people to buy property abroad. The exact impact of Brexit on this area is unclear at the moment, but there are obvious risks. In Spain, for example, the tax on any revenue from renting out a property you own is currently 19% if you’re an EU citizen – but if you’re not, the tax is 24%. With rules like that in place across the EU, Britain leaving the bloc could well alter how much you pay in a number of arenas.

Buying a property outside Britain isn’t a task to be taken lightly. In fact, it’s something that’s likely to get even harder in some parts of the world thanks to the impact of Brexit. But don’t let that put you off: by thinking carefully about where to source your currency broker services and ensuring you know everything there is to know about planning and property rules in your new country of residence, it’s easy to get ahead of the game and make your property dreams come true.

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