From Translating Documents to Checking the Area: Great Advice for Buying a Foreign Property


Getting a foreign property in places like France and Spain is the dream for many people but you have to be careful so this article aims to give you some solid information to make the transactions, legal implements and the move, go smoothly. First of all, it is vital to know that a UK resident individual buying any kind of property abroad is still going to be exposed to UK tax on that property. This includes the kind of levies like UK Capital Gains Tax on property sales, UK Income Tax on rental income, and even in some cases UK Inheritance Tax on any foreign properties you leave to your children so these are some of the first things to be considered.

No matter whether it’s a second home somewhere sunny abroad, or you are just wanting a change of lifestyle and relocating to start a brand new experience in a foreign climate, there is a lot to consider.

That’s a pretty special event in your and your family’s life so you must carefully consider all of the aspects to making such a move beforehand.  Either way, it’s still an exciting move!

But staying level-headed for the next few moments.  As mentioned there are some very important considerations when it comes to buying a foreign pad.  It’s not the kind of purchase you want to get wrong at any point so making sure all of your boxes are ticked is key.  Some of the key points you will want to look at are in a shortlist here but always remember to do your own research before you even consider making such a bold move.  The Foreign & Commonwealth Office is always a good starting point for solid tips when you have got a firm idea of what you want to buy.

Take Your Time and Research.

It is important to take your time don’t succumb to heavy pressure from estate agents or developers to put down a deposit, research, research, research.  Do your research on the areas you are thinking of buying property in. Actually living somewhere can be very different from going on holiday there. If possible talk to locals to get an honest appraisal of local issues.

Do your research on the areas you are thinking of buying property in.  Try to get some local information and perhaps holiday there first and spend time talking to the locals in order to get an upfront and honest appraisal of local issues and situation right the way thru to checking out the local hospitals in any cases of emergency so you understand the capabilities of the facilities available to you. Talk to expats who have already been through these kinds of process on which you are thinking on embarking.

Legal Advice and Use of Translation Services.

You should always seek the correct local legal advice and look to use the services of a solid translation service so that the documents that you are both exchanging are fully understandable to both parties and precise You need to make sure that all the details and conditions of the building that are often in specific technical languages are easy to understand and correct for both language speakers.

The Foreign & Commonwealth Office has a list of English-speaking lawyers living abroad so it is always good to go and get some good feedback from them before committing to anything solid.

Hire an Independent Translation Service for Contracts.

Hire a professional independent translator as you may be moving to a place where you do not speak the language.  Any contractual agreements surrounding such a property purchase always involve a specialist language and legal system of its own.  It’s always worth hiring a professional company such as, an  independent translator who will make absolutely sure you are dealing and contracting with arrangements which are understandable and correctly documented for both parties. Some of the most requested services are for French and Spanish translation services for properties all over the respective countries.

Developers Background.

Do your homework on the developers and their background as much as possible after all the main thing they are interested in is your money. Always look at their track record, company accounts online, speak to others who have dealt with them directly in the past and get their feedback.  Obviously building quality and any ongoing problems may have occurred since they moved into their property which will be a red flag as to the building craftsmanship of these developers. Look and ask about things like issues with damp, mould or drainage, poor plastering falling off, leaks, concrete cancer, structural integrity, blocked drainage, poor appliances, cracking concrete as this will be your opportunity to find out to make a shortlist ready for your visit.  

Buying property from a plan is not going to tell you any of the answers to the questions we have pointed out so tread carefully and if you are happy with your choice always do the checklist above before any financial transaction takes place while ensuring you always get a bank guarantee if you are ready to go that far.  You must keep all of your research and records together and it is a good practice to get a copy of all of these logged in with your solicitor in case of any future issues. It is also a good idea to ensure that there’s a bank-backed guarantee that if the developer goes bust, the property will be completed to spec at no extra cost to you.  

Never agree verbally to any such agreement without the contracts and get the deeds as to who owns the title deeds and is able to transfer them to you. If you are buying a brand new property make sure the deeds exist. Also, check that the deeds haven’t been offered as collateral against any loans.  Make sure there are no encumbrances on the property you are looking to buy so you won’t buy these along with the property.

Always shop around for a better mortgage and ensure that you have taken out the right insurance policy covering every possible event that may come along at a later date.  Make sure you are aware of the Tax Law in the area you wish to move to and any other such bills and costs for the properties upkeep like gas, electric and water rates as such. We hope that this helps enlighten you as to the steps to take to secure the perfect foreign property. See you in the sun!

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