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Avoiding rushed overseas property purchases post-Covid lockdown restrictions easing

With lockdown restrictions relating to Covid-19 easing around the world, this article provides a breakdown of why it is crucial to not dive head-first into your overseas property purchase with your somewhat ‘new-found freedom’.

Written by Simon Conn on 26 July 2021

While living through a global pandemic, rendering house hunting anywhere abroad somewhat of an impossible challenge, the eagerly anticipated ease of lockdown restrictions has arrived.

With this ease of the rules comes the inevitable urge to quickly pick up where you may have left off in your overseas property journey, however, avoiding rushing this particular type of financial decision can drastically reduce your risk of enduring some extremely costly errors, both immediate and in the future.

Below is a breakdown of why it is crucial to not dive head-first into your overseas property purchase with your somewhat ‘new-found freedom’.

Avoiding the ‘common mistakes’

Property and finance experts can see a clear, evolving pattern in the consequences of individuals that have acted out of sheer urgency in the past.

Of course experts know and understand why you would want to wrap up the process that you may have began over 16 months ago, but it is so important to reiterate frequently to yourself, that the only difference that will emerge from taking a calm and thoughtful approach, will only be fewer nasty surprises along the road.

Another stance that may encourage you to take a step back in your approach, is to apply scenarios which would apply to the property not being overseas…

Would you ever consider purchasing a property that was a 30-minute drive away from yourself, without physically viewing it first? Or without having any real experience on what the surrounding neighbourhood and people are like first?

To most, the answer to these would of course be a hard no. So why are these questions so often forgotten when it comes to an abroad purchase?

Of course it goes without saying that practicality comes into play when a short drive is swapped with a flight overseas!... but the importance of the original questions remains and unfortunately are not diminished by travel plans. This will be a home you own.

Investing into a decision as large as an overseas property purchase, without having a clear understanding of the area, legal obligations, the property itself and an array of other details would not be classed a smart financial decision.

Strategise to avoid over-paying

Foreign buyers can commonly be taken advantage of when it comes to property prices. Local agents will sometimes seize the opportunity to inflate the asking prices, knowing that a foreign buyer is more likely to not know the area or average market price.

This is just another reason why it is important to shop around and familiarise yourself with the surrounding properties and other agents.

Seeking out an independent surveyor that is ideally not locally based can help you check that the valuation given is appropriate, at the same time checking and comparing other surrounding properties.

A surveyor can also help ensure you are not paying for a property with guaranteed impending issues. These can be factors such as the quality of building materials used, foundation depths and location suitability.

Understanding the contractual obligations, legalities, and tax practicality of your potential new home

If relocating to your new home, you need to understand the tax obligations that apply to your move, and depending on the location, being careful to avoid paying tax in two different places at the same time.

This is something which could be easily overlooked, especially when not taking your time to fully understand your purchase amid the ease of lockdown restrictions. Professional advice should always be sought from an overseas tax expert.

This also applies to the understanding that you may want to sell on one day, making it necessary to make sure you know if there are any problems with the house, its planning permissions or its building licenses that could potentially prevent you from selling in the future.

A massive part of any overseas purchase process will be the translation, understanding and details of the sales contract.

Sometimes your contract may only be provided in the local language. Despite you ever feeling that you fully understanding everything that has been discussed throughout the buying process, you must never sign a contract without being able to understand it in its entirety.

Once you have had the contract translated, having an independent lawyer that can verify that the translation is a true and exact version of the original is important to ensure that you are not signing on to anything not covered within the original contract, and to avoid any extra changes or conditions to your purchase.

Seeking advice and fighting the tempting urge to rush

The bottom line is to approach finding and buying your dream home in the sun with your eyes wide open.

The lift on the UK lockdown restrictions has felt like a very long time coming for many, and has effectively caused countless people to feel as though their plans have been set back months, if not years.

But what every individual should be aiming to avoid is making an error in such a huge life decision, that they could potentially end up paying for in the years to come.

Whether the plans are relocation, retirement, health related or just for a general enjoyment that a year-long summer can bring, professional advice from an overseas property and finance expert can be the difference between multiple costly errors, or a successful move abroad.