With the fluctuating state of today’s UK property market, it’s no wonder so many of us are following our dream and buying a home abroad.
Thousands of buyers are trading in grey skies and crippling interest rates for luxury living on sparkling coastlines, where market prices and the cost of living remain low enough for even budget buyers to turn their dream into a reality.
The National Association of Estate Agents list Spain and France as the most popular locations for UK buyers, but in recent years a thriving tourism economy and continued growth potential has seen countries like Morocco, Egypt, Turkey, Greece and Bulgaria become sought-after hotspots.
Overseas property can be highly lucrative investment, with some off-plan developments and holiday apartments returning excellent rental yields and a potential second income.
For those simply in search of a sun-drenched base for family holidays, there’s even more choice.
You could have a scenic townhouse on a Bulgarian mountain resort, a luxury apartment on the stunning island of Crete or a beachside villa on one of Spain’s top golf resorts – for less than the price of studio flat in the UK.
However, buying abroad can be an extremely daunting process, so it’s important to have a clear idea of what you want to achieve from your purchase.
The NAEA advises buyers to be realistic with finances and stick to a set budget.
Take into consideration all the unseen extras like solicitor’s fees, yearly service charges, maintenance, notary fees, local taxes, land registry charges and fluctuating currency rates, which could affect repayments.
Every country has a different set of legislation and potential legal pitfalls which could impact on your investment, so it’s important to do your homework.
In Spain, for instance, buyers have to make out a will in Spanish before they’re able to purchase, while owners of French property have to pay two local property taxes, regardless of whether they’re a permanent resident or not.
A reputable agent can help to steer you around the process. For peace of mind and a stress-free venture, it pays to use an organisation that’s registered with the Federation of Overseas Property Developers, Agents and Consultants.
This gives buyers extra protection against disreputable companies because all FOPDAC members have their credentials checked before they’re allowed to join – particularly important if you’re looking for a local agent to sub-let on your behalf.
If you’ve set your heart on a property in a non-EU country, the NAEA advises that you check the agent belongs to the International Association of Real Estate Agents.
There’s certainly a lot to take into consideration when buying abroad, but don’t let it put you off pursuing your dream home.
If you use a trusted agent and exercise the same caution and care as you would when buying a UK property, you should have a problem-free transaction and a second home that could pay dividends – whether for financial gain or sheer relaxation!