Buying a property abroad is now back on the wish list for thousands of Brits as many international property markets appear to have started to stabilise. UK favourites such as France, Portugal and Spain still offer low prices than you would find in the UK and remain desirable for those considering investment or a lifestyle purchase. Like any investment if you step wisely you can make profit on the purchase not only by securing a great price but also by securing the best possible exchange rate in advance.
Thankfully there are currency solutions such as forward currency exchange contracts, these offer the flexibility that can mitigate the risk of foreign currency fluctuations to provide price certainty and protect your proﬁts
Top 5 tips
1.) Location is everything
If you’re planning to let your property when you’re not using it, it’s important to bear the location and its accessibility for holidaymakers. How easy did you find getting to the property, How far from major transport links, what are the costs associated with travelling to the property. You have to remember when you rent a holiday home you are entering a competition where your clients will compare your homes location against others.
Ensure it’s in an easily accessible location with good local amenities and in an area popular with tourists. You should also investigate the competition – find out what the going rate is for rental on similar properties to get a realistic idea of how much you could make.
2.) Legal advice and contracts
Never sign a contract that you do not understand (e.g. if it’s in a foreign language). If two versions are provided, i.e. English & local language, ask your solicitor to confirm the English version is a true translation.
Check the inheritance and capital gains tax laws of the country where you are buying. For example, in France your children automatically inherit rights to your house; your estate may not automatically pass to your spouse and you may, therefore, need to compile a separate will.
If you take a mortgage out on a property in France or Spain, it may reduce your inheritance tax liability, as there is a debt on the property. If you rent out your property you will be liable for income tax
4.) Independent advice
Property developers , real estate agents and anyone with a vested interest in selling a home can sometimes genuinely be unaware of the fine print and costs when buying a property. They may mislead confuse or imply facts about a property to lunch that important commission earning sale. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office recognise this and so should you no matter how great the deal appears. They say:
“We strongly recommend that prospective purchasers of overseas property seek independent legal and financial advice at all stages of their purchase
5.) Use a Foreign Currency specialist
Don’t relay on your existing relationship with a high street bank, these can cost you thousands and can leave you at the mercy of foreign currency fluctuations. Currency Direct and other FX specialists can arrange a set rate in advice giving you complete control of the amount you will require to buy a property
If things go wrong when buying abroad
An overseas property purchase is not regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) so you will not be protected by the Financial Ombudsman Service or Financial Services Compensation Scheme if things go wrong, even if you use as FCA-registered financial