skip to main content
Speak to a International mortgage expert >

7 tips that can turn your foreign property dream into a reality

Many of us dream about buying a property abroad, especially after a perfect summer holiday. Here are Simon Conn's top seven tips to getting the foreign property of your dream

Written by Simon Conn on 14 August 2017

If you have every returned from a holiday abroad and uttered the words "I could buy a property there", you are not alone. Every year hundreds of thousands of people spend weeks abroad to enjoy better weather, relaxed atmospheres and different cultures, and it's quite possible that over half have come back and at least thought about living abroad.

Simon Conn, an overseas property and finance specialist, says that his most popular time is in August and September when people decide they want to make their dream a reality.

While many people will not follow up on their dream, there are plenty who will and actively start researching what it might take to live abroad, including the impact of uprooting your family, establishing what income opportunities or risks may apply and currency considerations both now and in the future. It's also important to consider that your holiday provided a relaxing time, and once back in the reality of life, simply changing location may not remove the day-to-day stresses which accompany most peoples' lives - if anything they are likely to add to them.

Of course, not everybody wants to move abroad and many people start to think about purchasing a holiday home abroad, which removes many of the risks of moving - but generates it's own factors for consideration, such as what to do when you're not staying there.

Ultimately, whatever the primary motivation, what is key to any move abroad is finding the perfect foreign property to move to, below are Simon's top seven tips for making your foreign property dream come true, in his own words.

Has the property been constructed legally?

Initially, make sure that the property you are interested in has been built legally. Some have been built in areas that are set aside for green belt or agriculture land, or are illegally close to the coast. Environmental authorities have been known to demolish homes built too near the shoreline or on unregistered rural land.

Do not overpay for any property

Be warned - some unscrupulous agents see foreign buyers coming – so do not pay more than you need to. Prices can be inflated because a large number of foreign buyers are interested, or because the property is situated in a touristy area. If banks are not currently lending in that area, a true price may not have been set.

Ensure you get an independent survey

Instruct an independent surveyor, ideally one who is not locally based, to check the valuation and comparable properties in the area.

Check the build quality of the property

Check if there are any construction issues. We have dealt with cases where new properties have been built in poor soil with unsatisfactory foundation depths, others where sub-standard building materials have been used, or where they’ve been built in dubious locations, such as flood plains, or too close to nearby cliffs.

Construction difficulties are not unique to new properties, just as older properties may have hidden issues such as damp, timber rot, wiring defects or subsidence. Getting an independent valuation done will highlight any problems. If you are buying a new property, check the developer’s past building record.

Visit the property at least once

Never sign up for a property that you have not taken the time to visit. When you do visit, do so during the day and night. Talk to people who already live in the area to get a better understanding of what it is really like.

And if you do not see the property in real life, what may have looked great in a sales brochure could end up being located in problematic or totally unsuitable areas. Your dream home may actually be situated next to a motorway, a local airfield or a rubbish dump.

Know what's in the contract before you sign anything

Perhaps the most important piece of advice I can give is to make sure you know what you are signing. You may only receive a contract in the local language, or two contracts – one in the local language and one in English.

The term 'lost in translation is one we are all familiar with, but when it comes to contracts for an overseas property, you could be at risk of experiencing its full impact. In many cases, it has come to light that the translation is not a true version of the original. In other cases, people have not bothered to have the contract translated at all.

The safest option is to check with an independent lawyer, or a professional translator who can verify that the translation is a true version of the original. Otherwise, you could unwittingly be agreeing to extra conditions or charges not covered under the original contract.

Get independent advice from someone who knows what they are doing

Take independent advice from an English-speaking lawyer and similar independent professionals, such as surveyors or architects. Buying a property overseas can be one of the best decisions you ever make, but I would urge you to do your research and take the proper steps before taking the plunge.

Simon has been in the overseas property and finance business for more than 35 years and believes that getting proper, independent advice can help minimise any chance of avoiding the most common mistakes - and also ensure that moving to another country can be the best decision you've ever made.

If you would like to have a free consultation with Simon, enter your details using the form and we will ask Simon to contact you and arrange a free consultation, during which he will answer your questions and provide information which could help you find your perfect foreign property.