Buying & Selling

Top 5 tips for buying a house abroad

If you’re moving to a new country, finding a home is one of the most important things you can do. Reduce the risk of legal pitfalls and bad property investments with these tips for buying a house abroad.

Buying a house abroad

By Expatica

Updated 28-2-2024

Many people who have traveled abroad have felt the temptation of buying a house abroad. British residents often consider buying overseas property in nearby European countries like France or Spain; real estate agents often locate near popular tourist attractions to sell property to such visitors.

Sometimes the price of foreign real estate can seem very attractive due to the foreign exchange rate favoring the prospective buyers’ currency. Tourists can also become enamored with a delightful travel destination; this, perhaps, leads to an interest in buying overseas property as a way to spend more time there. Others might be interested in investing in real estate in an undervalued housing market; perhaps there is a good chance that it will appreciate substantially over time.

A couple that just moved into their new house

Relocating to a new country is a difficult process; your moving abroad checklist will have many moving parts working together simultaneously, not the least of which is your housing situation. Whatever your motivation for buying a house abroad, the following five tips can help assure that you have a more positive experience in doing so.

Tip #1: Investigate the market thoroughly

Although global property price trends do occur, real estate markets in different locales can go through cycles of rising and then correcting lower. These can be completely independent of each other.

In short, just because property values are rising in your neighborhood doesn’t mean that they are also rising in Spain. Such trends are especially important for investors; investors typically want to buy near the bottom and sell near the top of a cycle.

Also, some countries prevent or limit real estate ownership by foreigners. Ensure that you have the legal right to buy real estate in that country and under what conditions. This is a necessary step before handing over any money in order to avoid scams or bitter disappointment.

Basically, it makes sense to do your homework about the real estate market in the country you are considering making a purchase before putting up your money. This includes checking the currency exchange rate and stability in the country you wish to make a purchase.

Tip #2: Obtain professional purchase assistance

Buying a house abroad directly from the owners can result in great deals. Nevertheless, if you are unfamiliar with a country’s real estate market, then purchasing through a professional real estate agent or from a reputable property developer can provide useful guidance that can help you avoid many pitfalls when buying overseas property.

Such professionals typically have an obligation to see that you are properly informed about the details of the purchase. They will also usually make an effort to complete the deal and assure your satisfaction with it.

Although real estate deals in your country of residence generally do not require the services of a lawyer, having an independent professional attorney representing your interests and watching out for potential legal problems can be invaluable when buying overseas property.

Tip #4: Have key documents translated

Before signing any documents relating to a potential real estate transaction, make sure that you have them professionally translated if they are written in a language that you are not entirely comfortable reading. You need to know exactly what you and the seller are agreeing to in words you can clearly understand.

Tip #5: Saving money on mortgage payments

Once you have read, understood, and agreed to the terms of an overseas property purchase, you will then need to make arrangements to pay for it.

When transferring funds relating to a property, you should find a better foreign exchange solution than simply visiting a bank.

Some banks provide poor services, which often involve very wide dealing spreads and limited transaction sizes. Be aware of this and research what your options are.