Alexander Fordham is a writer for Property Guides, the experts in buying safely overseas. Here, he discusses how to buy a holiday home abroad that will be perfect for your family.
Holiday homes overseas are a growing market for British buyers, not least for those looking to take advantage of burgeoning markets abroad compared to the sluggishness of real estate prices back home. Perhaps you’re looking for the perfect home for the whole family to enjoy, for cousins to meet, for grandchildren to spend time with grandparents or grown-up siblings to stay without feeling like they’re imposing. Perhaps it’s an investment property, tapping into affordable-but-growing markets in hotspots like the Costa del Sol, the Algarve or Greek islands.
How do you buy a holiday home abroad?
The process of buying in much of Europe is relatively straightforward, but it does require some planning ahead. The main steps in buying are as follows:
- Property hunt: Start looking for homes online, using both big portals and individual estate agents’ sites. Remember that in many countries, like Spain, estate agents have access to all listings, so, once you find a trustworthy agent who understands your needs, they’ll be able to work with you for much of the process.
- Financial planning: At the same time as starting to look for homes, speak to a currency specialist about how to safely transfer your money abroad. The risk here, that banks will often gloss over, is that the price is fixed in euros only. The price in pounds changes every single day, even after you’ve agreed on a purchase – because the sales contract will agree to a price in euros. A €200,000 house has changed valued by almost £20,000 in only the last year. By using what’s called a ‘forward contract’, you can use a fixed exchange rate instead, so you know exactly how much you’re paying.
- Get your tax code: You can do this at any stage, but the earlier, the better. Many countries will let you apply for this from the UK or Ireland in their consulates, and it’ll make things like opening a bank account much easier.
- Head out on your viewing trip: Make sure you have your property shortlist and how to pay all sorted by this point. Speed is of the essence! You’ll be visiting several homes in one day, normally for around three-five days in total. Try not to see more than seven, otherwise, they start blending into one. With your finances in place, you’re in a position to immediately offer, rather than going back to sort it in the UK, only to find someone else has got there before you.
- Reservation agreement: Next, once the seller accepts the offer, you sign a reservation agreement and pay a small deposit to have the home off the market for around 15 days.
- Deposit contract: Once this cooling-off period is over, it’s time to sign the deposit contract and pay the full deposit. In this way, both you and the vendor are committed to the sale, so there’s no danger of being ‘gazumped’ like in the UK.
- Exchange: Finally, it’s time for the exchange of contracts, at the notary’s office. She or he will read out the sales contract, you will both sign and keys will be exchanged. The notary will register the property’s ownership transferral and, with that, you’re the proud owner of a holiday home abroad!
Can I still buy after Brexit?
In a word, yes! Even if there’s a no-deal Brexit, you’ll still be able to buy a property overseas. Homeownership doesn’t come under the EU’s four freedoms. What does, however, is the entry into its shared borders. While, for permanent residents, this would mean the need for a work or investment visa, for holiday homeowners only spending 90 days or less in a period of 180 days – as most do – then all you’ll likely need is a simple tourist visa. There is much talk at the moment of an electronic system which would give you a pass-through tourist visa for up to five years.
If you need to sell your home, then don’t forget to read our guide to ‘house viewings: how to sell your house quickly‘, and for more information on how to buy a holiday home abroad, visit PropertyGuides.com