At the OverseasGuidesCompany.com, we regularly speak to readers who are about to embark on property viewing trips abroad. The success of a trip of this nature largely depends on the steps that travellers have taken beforehand. To help travellers prepare for such an excursion, we have compiled some of our top tips for how to make the most out of any international viewing.
Prior to booking your ticket, be sure to sit down and establish a number of things that you want to achieve during your trip. Although it’s a wonderful luxury to be able to visit your country of choice with no real plan or wish list, if – like most people – you’re on a budget, it pays to be informed. To prevent yourself from wasting your time looking at areas that aren’t suitable, grab yourself a cup of tea, sit down, and work out answers to the following questions:
Where do you want to buy?
You can’t plan a viewing trip without knowing your destination. You don’t need to know the exact street you wish to move to, but take some time to read up on areas that have piqued your interest so you can narrow down the borders of your search. If the internet doesn’t provide you with the answers you need, chat to a property agent from the region in question – they could suggest areas that you may not have thought of.
What is your budget?
From the get-go, you need to know how much money you would like to spend. First, you’ll need to work out exactly what your budget is once it’s been translated into the local currency. Second, you’ll need to factor in the various taxes and fees that you’ll be charged on top of the asking price. Knowing your entire budget from the outset means that you can avoid wasting time viewing properties that are out of your price range.
What type of property do you want?
There’s no point viewing rural properties if you want to be within walking distance of your morning coffee fix. Working out what kind of property you want and all of the specific features that you desire will help your agent to narrow down the search. The more detailed you can be, the better.
Once you know exactly what you’re looking for, you need to seek the right team of people to help you get it. The following factors are so instrumental to a successful viewing trip that we’ve dubbed them The Golden Three: if you have these three elements in place prior to flying, you’ll be in a strong position to make an offer while on your viewing trip.
The Golden Three
1: Find the right agent
The right agent is worth their weight in gold. Not only should they listen to your needs and do everything they can to find properties that really suit you, but they should also be a font of knowledge on the local area.
To establish if they are the right agent for you, double check that they cover the areas that you are interested in, and that they have the kinds of properties you are seeking on their books. Don’t be afraid to test out their service: drop them an email or give them a call and gauge how helpful they are. Don’t be afraid to seek references too. A good agent should have numerous satisfied customers to call upon in this instance.
2: Organise your currency exchange
Before you can make a purchase abroad, you will need to transfer your money into the correct currency. If you don’t manage this exchange process carefully, you can lose money as a result of adverse exchange rates. This can easily put a property that was well within your budget completely out of your reach.
We recommend chatting to our trusted partner, Smart Currency Exchange, prior to your trip. The company will offer its expert knowledge and lock in favourable exchange rates in order to help you to set a budget. It will also be able to make fast transfers for you, should you need to complete the process quickly.
3: Secure a good solicitor
Buying a property anywhere is a complicated process, but when you factor in international laws and language barriers, it really helps to have someone who understands how things operate on your side. We recommend that you seek an independent, bilingual solicitor who is well versed in property sales to help guide you through the process.
When you’re seeing multiple properties over the space of a few short days, you’ll find that they blur into one. This means it’s vital to be organised: be sure to take notes and photos of each property to refer back to later. It’s also beneficial to take a friend or family member along with you – having someone to seek a second opinion from, bounce ideas off of, or simply talk things through with will help keep you on track. Your companion might also notice things that you may not have done, or think of questions that you might not have considered.
Don’t be too polite to fact check – your developer might tell you that your balcony is south-facing, but until you pull out that compass app, you won’t know if they are telling the truth or just looking to make a quick sale.
It’s also a good idea to visit the property out of hours: yes, the street your potential new property is on might be lovely and peaceful at 10am, but what about at midnight? It’s worth swinging by just to make sure that it doesn’t become the loudest street in town as soon as the sun goes down.
By Elaine Ferguson, Head of the Resource Centre at OverseasGuidesCompany.com