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Buying Property Abroad? 6 Tips to Get You Started

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Buying Property Abroad? 6 Tips to Get You Started
5 min. read
couple in front of modern house

Image: fizkes / Shutterstock.com

If you’ve ever traveled abroad to discover the wonders of the world, you’ll know how easy it is to fall in love with a place. Perhaps you’re thinking more seriously about returning, and as the thought of buying property abroad becomes ever more tempting, you begin to wonder how feasible it is. 

Sound familiar? The only trouble is, it can be hard to know where to start, and with foreign properties often many miles away, the process of buying abroad can seem increasingly difficult. Well, worry no more, as we’ve got 6 essential tips to get you started. Check them out below.

Be certain it’s possible

Around the world, different countries have different laws dictating who can and cannot purchase land and property in their country. Before you find a home you’ve fallen in love with, and contact the owner, just make sure that you’re allowed to buy there first.

A quick search online is usually enough to determine whether you can buy a property in a particular country or not, and exactly which steps you need to take to do so. Research thoroughly, as even if you can buy a home in your country of choice, you may be limited to how you can use it. For example, in Australia, foreigners typically can purchase a home, but if they’re not living in it, they can be subject to hefty fines.

Know what you want

Do you want to relocate completely, or are you thinking about buying a holiday home that you can rent out while you’re not there? You may even be contemplating opening a business. Knowing this in advance is important, as you may be limited as to what you can do with your property. You don’t want to spend thousands of dollars on a place, only to find that you can’t rent it out, or open up a business, for example.

If you’re looking to relocate, consider the specific location, and the impact it can have on your life. Knowing whether you want the peace and tranquility of the countryside, or the hustle and bustle and opportunity of the city, allows you to focus your search.

Spend as much time there as possible

One trip abroad is enough to fall in love with a place, but it’s by no means enough to know whether buying a property there is the right move for you. Once you know it’s possible, don’t rush in. Visit again, and spend a longer time in the area you’re considering buying in. Use the trip to visit properties for sale, to get a grip on the market, but also to spend time living like a local. You might even consider renting a place for a month or two to really get a feel for the place. You never know, it might not be the paradise you thought it was.

It’s also a good idea to visit at different times during the year. In this way, you’ll see how life changes from season to season, and whether the bustling seaside town you fell in love with in the summer is as happy in the winter as well.

Made your choice and found the home of your dreams? Don’t buy it without visiting in person! You can carry out your own inspection, and see that it is everything you were told it was. If you buy without seeing it in person first, you may be in for a nasty surprise when you finally do arrive.

Understand the market

Like at home, local real estate markets fluctuate and have their own character. Understanding this is particularly important when you’re looking to buy a property abroad, though it can be more difficult to keep on top of things. Do your research online, and speak to locals who might be able to give you a good idea of what’s worth what. Reaching out to other expats in the area is also a great idea, as they are often in a better position to advise than most, having been through the process themselves. Learn from their mistakes, and heed their advice, though sometimes with a pinch of salt!

Hire a professional team

When buying a property abroad, it’s almost essential to hire a team of experienced pros to help you along the way. Even if you’re fluent in the local language, understanding the various laws and local market quirks can be extremely difficult from thousands of miles away. Ideally, your team will be on location and eager to help out.

A local real estate agent with a great track record is a must and it’s worth speaking with several before making your choice. Additionally, you might need an accredited translator to legally translate any documents, as well as a real estate lawyer to ensure the process is all above board. In some countries, you are required by law to hire legal services such as notaries to finalize the transaction.

Consider a currency broker

If everything else has fallen into place, and you’re ready to transfer the money and claim your prize, there’s one last thing to consider. You can save, or lose a lot of money depending on the conversion rate from USD to local currency. Using a traditional bank for such an exchange might not be the best approach, as they often charge high fees, impose tight restrictions, and offer a poor conversion rate.

Instead, consider using a currency broker. These companies are dedicated to finding the best rates for you and will do all the work, making the whole process much easier. They typically offer a broad range of products, so even if you’re not ready to send the funds just yet, you can lock in a favorable exchange rate.

The key to buying a property abroad is to do your research and be prepared. Leave no stone unturned as you browse the legalities, and hire the services of those who know the ins and outs. Also, avoid rushing into this decision, as you might live to regret your choices!

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