Christopher Nye, Senior Editor at The Luxury Property Show
Buying your dream home abroad can be confusing, and a little bit daunting. There are so many rules and regulations in place when you’re purchasing property in another country, that the planning alone can put some people off. Fortunately, the process can be made a lot simpler if you remember just five key things, outlined here by The Luxury Property Show.
A professional team
To buy property abroad, you’ll need to gather a good team of experts and professionals who can give you the best guidance for finding and securing your dream home. Start with an estate agent, lawyer, and currency specialist as the core of your team. Then, you may also wish to hire a mortgage adviser and independent financial adviser, plus a translator or interpreter to ease proceedings and make your purchase as smooth as possible. Try to assemble this team as early as possible during your buying journey so they can make sure you’re on the right track.
You’ll no doubt have a figure in mind when it comes to how much you want to spend, but don’t underestimate how important it is to stick to your budget. Even if you’re buying the property outright rather than applying for a mortgage, in addition to paying the price for your new home there may be all sorts of additional legal fees and taxes to pay on top. Fortunately, your professional team can advise you of these before you buy so you’re not caught out, which means all you have to do is make sure you’re not tempted to go for a property that’s beyond your means.
An important document bundle
No matter where in the world you’re buying property, your passport, proof of address, visa (if applicable), and property sales agreement are often the most important items of paperwork to take with you. Together they can act as your ID, and they’ll allow you to do things like open a bank account in the country you’re moving to, or even take out a loan to help finance your purchase. Your passport should be in date, and your proof of address is usually a utility bill or bank statement. Your property sales agreement can be any contract signed by you and the owner of the property at any stage of the buying process.
A tax code and a foreign bank account
Each country will have their own tax system, but in most cases you’ll need to acquire a tax code or tax identification number specifically for foreigners. For example, in Spain, this is known as your NIE; in Greece, it’s your AFM, and in Italy your codice fiscal. Some countries will require you to open a bank account on their soil before you can apply for your tax code, so make sure you allow time for that to process. You may also need to provide proof of income, such as several recent payslips.
Proposals and contracts
The buying process will be different depending on the country, but you’ll have to sign several documents along the way. Some may ask you to sign something similar to an intent to buy, which reserves the property without taking payment while you organise your finances. This may be followed by a deposit contract before a separate, final contract when your payment is completed in full, and you receive your keys. A good rule to follow is to document everything. No matter how small or insignificant a piece of paper may seem, file it away so you can refer back to it later if necessary.
“Buying property abroad can seem complicated, but in reality, there are only a few key things you need to bear in mind. The most important steps to remember are to organise your professional team, so they can provide detailed guidance specific to your circumstances, and to file every piece of paperwork you receive. I also highly recommend bundling documentation you’ll commonly be asked for, such as your passport, proof of address, and your property sales agreement.
“If you’re still looking for your perfect property, my advice would be to set your budget and start looking as early as possible to give yourself the best chance of finding somewhere that ticks all your boxes. Attend the best property shows, get in touch with reputable brokers and experts, and you’ll be best placed to find your dream home without compromising on what’s important to you.”
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