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Never Ignore These Essentials When Buying Properties Abroad.

Whether they are retirement presents to yourself or accommodation for family holidays, second homes are precious due to the time, money and effort invested into their purchase and upkeep. It is because of their importance and impact on their owner’s lives, that we want to warn our readers around certain pitfalls that could leave them either out of pocket or as victims of fraud. By using our essential information, your transaction and obtainment of a foreign property will be safe.

Check Your False-Sense-of-Security.

Do not assume that because you have bought and sold properties before that you know exactly what you are doing. We are sure your last sale/buy went smoothly, but the sale of a house can be very complicated, confusing and offers multiple chances to slip up. For this reason, we have a list of things to double check before (and during) the process.

  • The legal system may be different in another country, so once you know the location of your second home, brush up your knowledge on how they deal with the property market. You will literally be in foreign territory, so you need to understand their way of doing things.
  • Before getting into the ins and outs of an agreement, make sure the property seller or developer have the right to be in such heavy negotiations by confirming whether they own the title deeds. (And then check the deeds have not been offered as collateral for any loans.)
  • Check if the current owner has any outstanding utility bills or local tax demands, or anything to that effect. You may be liable upon purchase and why should you have to pay what someone else owes?
  • Before buying anything, talk to the locals near to your property to get an update on local problems. For example, is there flooding in the winter? What is the crime rate? Is there ever a lack of water or electricity supply? Is mobile phone signal hard to come by?
  • Make sure that your estate agent, lawyer, independent legal advice representative (and anyone else you appoint to help you through the process) is qualified to practice their discipline in your second property’s country as well as the UK.

Think for Yourself.

  • If something feels wrong with the sale – even if it is just a nagging feeling of some unknown origin making you hesitate – then do not finalise anything. Buying a property is a big deal and you have to be 100% sure of what you are doing; so, put off giving that final signature and use the extra time to do a little digging, finding out where the nagging feeling is coming from.
  • Do not automatically agree to installments recommended by the estate agents or anyone else you have hired as an aide. They are running a business and will help themselves where possible, so make sure you are doing the same for you. Take their advice, sure, but build on it with your own research; this includes with mortgages, who you use as an independent translator or interpreter, and agreements with the developer/seller.
  • Consider drawing up a will in the second country, even if you have already made one in the UK. This is because the other country’s legal system might work differently and you need to make sure that your property is left to someone of your

Off-Plan Properties.

For those who do not know, an off-plan property is a property that has not yet had a structure constructed upon it. For an off-plan property, you may need a couple more reassurances:

  • Do not make any payments without a bank guarantee. Also, make sure you check the terms of said guarantee carefully before making any payments.
  • Ensure the institution giving you that all-important guarantee is authorised to do so in the country where your property is.
  • With regards to the sales contract you have with the developer, ensure that it states the developer must return all advance amounts (plus any interest) if the construction started after the appointed date, or is not completed by the agreed deadline.

One Last Piece of Advice: Keep a hard copy of any and all receipts, contracts and property details – everything to do with the process. Electronic versions are too easy to lose since all it takes is one slip of the mouse onto the ‘Delete’ button, or one virus on your computer, and it could be lost or corrupted. Take your hard copy of everything and keep them all together, organised however you think is best, whether it be by date, contents, or sender.

We hope this article has been of some help to you. To read our previous investment blog about second homes (discussing the pros and cons of ownership), visit our blog: www.enlightenea.co.uk/blog.

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