In an incredibly witty blog entry by Penny Wise published on the LowTax.net website in early December, the writer comments that by about 2020 the UK will be inhabited by “Polish plumbers, Turkish bricklayers, Russian billionaires and Brazilian football players” because the rest of us who are actively buying property abroad will have all expatriated!
I’m not sure if Penny Wise is completely correct in her findings, but then the most recent statistics do reveal that 3.8 million Brits and Irish already own overseas real estate – meaning that if you count each family as having an average of four members, 15 million of us can escape abroad if we want to already. So why are we all buying property abroad?
Well, there are many reasons cited by those surveyed with the majority buying property abroad as some form of investment. Some are buying international real estate in a bid to get on the housing ladder in the UK some day, some are buying purely a holiday home but hoping they can one day resell for a profit and others are just buying to let, but choosing an affordable and/or attractive international market in which to make their money.
The rate of growth in the homes overseas ownership market is running at about 13% per annum at the moment. This means that there is competition for buyers, opportunity for vendors and plenty of potential for developers. So what considerations should you keep in mind if you’re thinking of buying property abroad.
Location – I know it sounds obvious, but you need to not only think carefully about the nation in which you will be buying but the location within the nation! When it comes to the nation, if you’re buying for investment you need to ensure the property is close to international transport links, is in a market where there is demand and affordability for your property type, and you need to make sure the location is desirable. If you’re buying for your own enjoyment these practical tips also count – but in addition you will of course be factoring in your own personal choice.
Price – Make sure you examine your chosen property and compare it to others in the vicinity of a similar size, quality etc. You don’t want to find you have paid over the odds for something and therefore made it harder for yourself to profit. At the same time – if something appears too good and affordable to be true, you’re going to want to question why!
Legalities and Contracts – in some nations you have to have a company in place through which to own freehold title to property. This is the case in Bulgaria and Montenegro at the moment for example. In some nations like Northern Cyprus there are issues with some forms of title deed that you need to be informed about, and in other countries, overseas buyers do not have the same rights as local purchasers. Forewarned is forearmed, ignorance is no excuse and aside from these clichés – you really must get expert legal help and get informed before you commit your signature to any form of purchase contract.
These are the most basic considerations to keep in mind when buying property abroad no matter what your personal reasons are for purchase. If you keep a clear head, act cautiously and sensibly at all times and don’t let rose coloured glasses and stunning views of the ocean cloud your judgment you shouldn’t go wrong.