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Property -> Buying Abroad

By Natalie Hale (March 2005)

Thinking of buying abroad? - Here's a few things to consider.Ever dream of cashing in your chips and moving overseas? If so, you're not alone. One in three Britons are plotting their escape from these islands to live abroad. And according to projections, a massive six million Brits will be living on foreign shores by 2020. Less stress, shorter working hours, better healthcare, better weather - the list of motivations is endless. If you're one of the many people dead set on leaving the country and escaping to paradise, there are a few things you need to consider.

Start off by holidaying in the area you're considering and evaluate whether you can picture yourself going about your daily life. Are there enough shops or is it just row upon row of bars and restaurants?

Beach HouseThe best source of knowledge is those who have done it before. There's no shortage of ex-pats with good, bad and ugly moving stories to learn from. And many Mediterranean coastal towns have ex-pat clubs and societies to scour for advice and information. As enthusiastic as you may be, once you have found a property to meet your needs that's within your price range and almost certainly cheaper than a similar property in the UK, do not act too hastily!

Often buyers get carried away and believe everything the agent said. Remember that any estate agents you deal with will be acting in the seller's interests and not yours, so make sure that you have a good lawyer on your side who speaks the local language fluently. They'll need to be able to deal effortlessly with the laws and regulations that may differ significantly from those in the UK.

For instance, did you know that before you can buy a property in Spain you need to make a will in Spanish and that you could end up inheriting the debts of the vendor? It's all part of the learning and evaluation process that you'll need to get to grips with before you can even contemplate putting in an offer on the house of your dreams.

Federation of Overseas Developers Agents and Consultants (FOPDAC) membership is the only universal quality standard for overseas property professionals.

FOPDAC chairman Adrian Medd advised: "Always ensure you seek specialist advice from independent English-speaking lawyers before considering a purchase overseas. They should be proficient in your chosen country's laws and processes and know the specifics involved in buying a property there.

"This is the most fundamental advice I can give. If you don't follow this route, then you're asking for trouble.

"Agents who are members of FOPDAC will always refer you to the right people. Members of FOPDAC abide by the code of ethics that ensures clients are properly informed of what they are doing at the appropriate time and introduced to reliable independent legal advisors who can safeguard the client's interests."

Once you've decided on a property, it's a good idea to start a direct debit from a native bank account to pay for all your bills. Be careful not to miss payments and always read those red letters - foreign banks are not lenient with those who don't pay up in time.

If you're considering renting out the property when it's empty, bear in mind that advertising here in the UK for what is abroad, could result in tax demands from both the English and foreign authorities.

Buying Abroad can offer a very attractive lifestyleSo there are many potential difficulties and pitfalls in buying property abroad, and any oversights could prove extremely expensive. But get it right, and moving abroad can be a wonderful, life-changing experience that could give you a new lease of life and a fresh start. As Adrian Medd said: "There are many advantages to buying abroad, including excellent infrastructure, roads and healthcare. Then, of course, there's the superb way of life. It's a very attractive lifestyle."


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