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Buying Overseas Property

Fourteen Top Tips for Overseas Property Investment:

1. Buy what you want to buy. The most important decision when buying a property is deciding exactly what you want the property to do for you. Is it purely for short term capital gain to provide a one-off profit over a particular period of time? Or is it to provide long term regular income? Or is it mainly for your own use as a holiday home?

2. Ignore the hard sell. Many people go to dedicated overseas property exhibitions or go on overseas trips or "inspection flights" to view properties. It is important to stay focused on what you originally had in mind. Do not be swayed by the hard sell of estate agents.

3. Be careful buying off-plan. Off-plan involves buying a property before it is built. You cannot see exactly what you are buying and it can be a long time before the property and surrounding development is completed. Problems can arise if the building is not constructed according to the original schedule.

4. Allow 10% extra for expenses. The cost of buying a property abroad (taxes, conveyancing, lawyers fees, agents fees, VAT, etc) can be much higher than in your own country. The total can add up to 10% to the cost of buying a property.

5. Buying in an up-and-coming area. This will increase your capital appreciation. Buying in the fashionable areas of Spain or France means that property prices are already expensive and may not increase much further, or increase at a slower pace than in the past. Buying in a less-fashionable area of Spain or France, or in the up-and-coming property markets of Bulgaria, Turkey, and Croatia where prices are still low will increase the chance of a rapid price increase. It is important to note that the less-fashionable and up-and-coming areas still need to have all the virtues of the more established destinations. What you are really looking for is an undiscovered property hotspot. Often such places are neighbouring the more fashionable and expensive areas.

6. Buy a property in a place that is popular with locals as well as tourists. You should always think of the exit route from your investment. The day will come when you want to sell your property and you will want to have the largest possible potential market. Ideally your investment property should be an attractive property for investors of different nationalities as well as a possible home for local residents.

7. Adequate shops, restaurants, and facilities. Most people who want to use a property as a holiday home will want to be near shops, restaurants, and other facilities. This is particularly important if you want a rental income from your investment.

8. Is there an airport nearby? Is there adequate public transport? People who rent property will want somewhere that is easy to get to and will often gravitate to those places with a nearby airport.

9. Consider the property off-season. The property and area might look lovely in summer when all the restaurants and bars are open. But what about winter? Do all the facilities close? Does the area become a "ghost town"?

10. A room with a view. A view is a major bonus from both the rental and the resale perspective. A sea view is top of most peoples list but rural or mountain views can be just as stunning. Nothing beats sitting on a balcony or roof terrace wathcing the setting sun. Beware though that views can change and your beautiful view could be replaced by a view of a new concrete apartment block. Check local planning regulations carefully!

11. Check the inheritance laws of the country where you are buying. You may need a separate will made in that country as well as a will made in your home country. In France for example your children automatically inherit your house; your estate does not pass to your spouse.

12. Get your own independent advice. Do not rely on a lawyer recommended by the property agent or developer.

13. Learn the language of the country you are buying in. You don't have to become fluent but you should learn as much as you can.

14. Above all, buy a property YOU like in a place YOU like. The chances are that if you love it and would enjoy staying there then others will too!

Copyright 2005 Hugh Griffin

Through my website at I provide independent advice on buying property abroad. With many years of experience my advice is highly recommended by past clients. Follow my guidelines at if you are considering buying a home or investment property abroad.

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