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22nd September, 2017

10 Things to Know Before Buying Your First Home Overseas

10 Things to Know Before Buying Your First Home Overseas

Are you dreaming of Tuscan vineyards, Spanish villas, or a high-rise penthouse in Dubai? Buying international property is a dream that many people share. However, the international property market can be uncharted territory for the first-time international property buyer. Our Fine & Country agents from around the world share their best tips for buying international property for the first time.

1. Buy high-quality

Quality is essential when purchasing your first home overseas. It can be tempting to buy property at a lower standard than you would expect from your home country, but you may be unhappy with a low-quality property further down the road. Cecilia Reinaldo of Fine & Country Dubai says, “in Dubai, look for property with a golf course view, and high-end developments with quality standard finishing.” Guy Watson-Smith of Fine & Country France adds: “don’t buy cheap, and stretch your budget as far as it will go in prime locations. This means that you will buy the best your chosen destination has to offer.” A high-quality property should always be your priority.

2. Know your visa requirements

Not all property markets are the same. Buying a house in the UK is a very different process from buying a property anywhere else in the world. Don’t be daunted, though - purchasing property abroad involves a bit of organisation, but is certainly worth it. Elizabeth McKenzie of Fine & Country South Africa says: “research the buying procedure, engage with a reputable real estate company, and know your visa requirements, so a sale doesn’t fall through at the last moment. If you eventually plan to sell or let your property, be sure that you’ve read about capital gains tax and how it will affect you.”

3. Be aware of different cultural norms

Just as the property buying process is different in every country, the culture surrounding property purchases is different as well. A home that’s classified as a two-bedroom apartment in one country may only have enough square footage to be classified as a one-bedroom apartment in another country. Nuno Durao of Fine & Country Portugal says; “first-time international buyers should recognize that different countries have different issues, legally, and with perceptions. There will be plenty of things that you won’t expect, so we advise getting a local expert. They’ll have the experience and track record to help a first-time buyer through the international property purchasing process.”

4. Don’t be afraid to move quickly

International property markets are fast-paced, so don’t be afraid to make a decision or you might end up being disappointed. Anteea Burlacu of Fine & Country Barcelona says: “We advise first-time buyers to ‘go for it’ when they see a flat they like. The market in Barcelona moves very fast, and a property might not be available if they take a long time to make a decision.”

5. Choose a reputable estate agent.

Getting a local expert is one of the best ways to make sure that your first international property purchase goes smoothly. Research the agents in the area where you want to buy, and ask them questions about the culture in that part of the world. A local expert will be able to provide the insight into the properties that are available, and will help a first-time buyer achieve the best price for the property.

6. Look to the future

“Pay attention to the capital appreciation, or whether or not an area is gaining or losing value,” adds Nuno Durao of Fine & Country Portugal. You may be perfectly happy in your international property at the moment, but looking to the future is always a prudent idea, and taking a look at the market and asking a local expert is one of the best ways to gauge value.

7. Choose a prime property

The definition of a prime property varies depending on location, but there are some tried-and-true ways to tell if a property is in demand. “Properties in central Barcelona with a tourist license are always in high demand, as well as building with lifts and properties that have been modernised but kept their original features. A balcony or terrace is another good sign of a prime property, too,” adds Anteea Burlacu of Fine & Country Barcelona.

8. Make sure you’re able to own property as a foreign national

Before you begin looking for property, check that it’s legal for you to own property as a foreign national. Some countries have very strict rules about who can own property, and it would be a shame to spend time on a visa process that could ultimately prove futile.

9. Visit your chosen area and rent a house instead of staying in a hotel before you buy

Living in an area is very different from visiting one and staying in a hotel. Visit the area you plan to buy in at least three times before choosing to purchase a property, and rent a house to stay in instead of staying in a hotel. This will give you a good idea of how much you like a neighbourhood, or if you should look in another part of the city or town.

10. Check the legalities of owning a foreign property in your country

When you purchase property internationally, you don’t leave your home behind. Check with your home country about their policies on owning foreign property. While most countries will allow you to own a home in another country without too many additional taxes, it’s always a good idea to check, so you don’t get a surprise after purchasing your new home.

Interested in purchasing property internationally? Fine & Country has offices all over the world. Find an agent today, and get in touch with a local property expert who can help you find the international property of your dreams.

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