Buying, Selling and Investing in Property Overseas Frequently Asked Questions

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Overseas frequently asked questions for buying, selling and investing.
Below are the top questions we've been asked about buying, selling and investing overseas - so we thought it would be helpful to publish them! Don't forget you can email us on enquiries@designsonproperty.co.uk or call us on 0845 838 1763 if you need support before, during or after your overseas property purchase.

Where can I find property for sale abroad?
You can find property for sale abroad via many UK estate agents and property portals. However you must never buy a property without visiting the country/property first and considering what would happen if you needed to sell it urgently.

Need to find out more? Try our Property Overseas Store or join as a member of Designs on Property and receive support throughout your property project including all our factsheets and ebooks for free. We will even save you £££s money when booking services such as overseas property sales agents!

Can I use a solicitor based in the UK?
When buying abroad, unless it is a country with long established property laws that are adhered to, you should use both an international property lawyer and a local property lawyer who is fluent in english and fully qualified.

Need to find out more? Try our Property Overseas Store or join as a member of Designs on Property and receive support throughout your property project including all our factsheets and ebooks for free. We will even save you £££s money when booking services such as independent legal property experts!

Where can I find a solicitor abroad?
It's best to seek an international property law firm, or UK firm that specialises in legals abroad which you can find via our overseas services section. You will also need a local lawyer to the country you are buying in who must be english speaking.

Need to find out more? Try our Property Overseas Store or join as a member of Designs on Property and receive support throughout your property project including all our factsheets and ebooks for free. We will even save you £££s money when booking services such as independent legal property experts!

Can I get a mortgage for a foreign property?
It is possible to get a foreign mortgage in some countries, but not all. Usually countries that are EU based will offer mortgages to British people, however there are some countries which don't actually allow any foreign property ownership, or if they do, they have to be bought in partnership with a local.

Need to find out more? Try our Property Overseas Store or join as a member of Designs on Property and receive support throughout your property project including all our factsheets and ebooks for free. We will even save you £££s money when booking services such as independent overseas finance companies!

What are the top 10 countries for property investment?
This depends on what your investment objectives are. If you are looking for the best return, then you will need to look at countries that are growing rapidly, where the locals can afford to rent or buy and where there is a shortage of accommodation. If you are looking for a property that doubles up as a holiday home, you would be looking at completely different hotspots.

Need to find out more? Try our Property Overseas Store or join as a member of Designs on Property and receive support throughout your property project including all our factsheets and ebooks for free. We will even save you £££s money when ordering overseas property books!

Does the legal process abroad take longer than in the UK?
Typically buying and selling abroad will (and should) take longer than the UK. You should schedule visits to go back out to the country/property during any buying/selling process so you can keep track of the legal process and sort out any potential problems quickly.

Need to find out more? Try our Property Overseas Store or join as a member of Designs on Property and receive support throughout your property project including all our factsheets and ebooks for free. We will even save you £££s money when booking services such as independent overseas legal experts!

Do I need to find a translator?
Ideally if you have local and international professionals that can speak english, then you shouldn't need a translator. However never sign any agreements or agree any prices either verbally or in writing without written translations that you understand.

Need to find out more? Try our Property Overseas Store or join as a member of Designs on Property and receive support throughout your property project including all our factsheets and ebooks for free. We will even save you £££s money when booking services such as english speaking lawyers and agents!

How can I find out whether my purchase is legitimate?
A legal company should be able to check that you own the land the property was built on; that the person that sold you the land/property was the sole owner or if there are others that could contest ownership.

Need to find out more? Try our Property Overseas Store or join as a member of Designs on Property and receive support throughout your property project including all our factsheets and ebooks for free. We will even save you £££s money when booking services such as independent overseas property experts!

How does the legal process work overseas?
The legal process is often completely different overseas versus the UK and then varies depending on the country's land/property laws. For example, most buyers/sellers go straight to exchange and don't have an 'exchange' stage. It is essential to understand every step of the legal process to ensure that you legally own the property. 

Need to find out more? Try our Property Overseas Store or join as a member of Designs on Property and receive support throughout your property project including all our factsheets and ebooks for free. We will even save you £££s money when booking services such as independent property legal experts!

Do I need to get a survey carried out?
Absolutely. Never stint on an independent property survey and never trust what the owner or a developer/builder say. Look for an english speaking, RICS recognised surveyor to carry out a survey for you. This is even the case on a new build as you rarely have the protection you would have in the UK should you have problems post purchase.

Need to find out more? Try our Property Overseas Store or join as a member of Designs on Property and receive support throughout your property project including all our factsheets and ebooks for free. We will even save you £££s money when booking services such as qualified international property surveyors!

Are there any advantages to buying a new build?
In some countries new builds are checked and regulated but not by all. They can be a good buy overseas, but you need to check the builder owns the land; is solvent and never complete unless you have the required paperwork.

Need to find out more? Try our Property Overseas Store or join as a member of Designs on Property and receive support throughout your property project including all our factsheets and ebooks for free. We will even save you £££s money when booking services such as english speaking snagging services!

What do I need to look out for when buying off plan?
If you are buying off plan you need to know exactly where your property is going to be built and have some insurance in case the developer goes bust. You also need to know what else is going to be built around you. You may have stunning views now but what if there was planning permission that would mean these disappear or you end up on a building site for years?

Need to find out more? Try our Property Overseas Store or join as a member of Designs on Property and receive support throughout your property project including all our factsheets and ebooks for free. We will even save you £££s money when booking services such as insurance for property deposits!

Can I purchase a property abroad without having to view it?
No, never do this, however much of a good idea it might seem. You wouldn't do it at home, so don't do it abroad!

Need to find out more? Try our Property Overseas Store or join as a member of Designs on Property and receive support throughout your property project including all our factsheets and ebooks for free. We will even save you £££s money when booking services such as international property buying agents!

Are foreign legal representatives as slow as the solicitors in the UK?
Often slower! But sometimes they are quicker. You should always have an international and a local lawyer carry out the conveyancing on a home abroad.

Need to find out more? Try our Property Overseas Store or join as a member of Designs on Property and receive support throughout your property project including all our factsheets and ebooks for free. We will even save you £££s money when booking services such as english speaking legal experts!

I do I need to learn the native language prior to purchasing a property abroad?
It would certainly help, but as English is such an international language it is usually easy to find locals that speak the language and a translator that you can trust to tell you everything that's being said/put in writing!

Need to find out more? Try our Property Overseas Store or join as a member of Designs on Property and receive support throughout your property project including all our factsheets and ebooks for free. We will even save you £££s money when booking services such as translators!

Spanish authorities have a reputation for land grabbing from owners abroad.  How can I make sure this does not happen to me?
Land grab is tricky to avoid as in parts of Spain it's actually allowed legally. You need to know the area well, understand what else might be built locally before you buy and make sure that your builder has built with the proper paperwork.

Need to find out more? Try our Property Overseas Store or join as a member of Designs on Property and receive support throughout your property project including all our factsheets and ebooks for free. We will even save you £££s money when booking services such as independent property agents in Spain!

What are the best websites for property sales abroad?
There are lots of different sites. Watch out because the english sites advertising foreign property may charge more for properties than they would typically sold to a local. Ideally visit the area and get to know good local agents who are members of AIPP.

Need to find out more? Try our Property Overseas Store or join as a member of Designs on Property and receive support throughout your property project including all our factsheets and ebooks for free. We will even save you £££s money when booking services such as international estate and letting agents!

Can a surveyor in the UK carry out a survey abroad?
They can certainly understand the structural side, but may not have the local knowledge/understanding to do a proper, full survey.

Need to find out more? Try our Property Overseas Store or join as a member of Designs on Property and receive support throughout your property project including all our factsheets and ebooks for free. We will even save you £££s money when booking services such as RICS qualified surveyors!

Who specialises in financing overseas property purchases?
There are lots of companies that will specialise in finance for overseas property and in the past these have included high street banks. However you need to check their fees as they can often be quite high and require high deposits.

Need to find out more? Try our Property Overseas Store or join as a member of Designs on Property and receive support throughout your property project including all our factsheets and ebooks for free. We will even save you £££s money when booking services such as overseas finance!

How does the exchange of monies work?
This is an essential 'need to know' factor when buying/selling abroad. You can usually choose to buy property in pounds sterling, but are likely to have to exchange this at some point into the local currency of the country you are buying. It is usually a lot cheaper to deal with specialist foreign exchange companies rather than go through your own bank.

Need to find out more? Try our Property Overseas Store or join as a member of Designs on Property and receive support throughout your property project including all our factsheets and ebooks for free. We will even save you £££s money when booking services such as foreign currency exchange!

Should I rent before I buy?
If you are planning on living abroad permanently it is a much better idea to rent your property out in the UK and rent abroad so you get to know the local area and over time can be sure you really want to up sticks and move!

Need to find out more? Try our Property Overseas Store or join as a member of Designs on Property and receive support throughout your property project including all our factsheets and ebooks for free. We will even save you £££s money when booking services such as a letting agent to look after your home!

If a property is under offer, can I still make an offer on it?
This depends on the local rules in the country. Many countries move straight to exchange when an offer is made, so unlike the UK you are more restricted on being able to make an offer once someone else has.

Need to find out more? Try our Property Overseas Store or join as a member of Designs on Property and receive support throughout your property project including all our factsheets and ebooks for free. We will even save you £££s money when booking services such as independent property valuation services!

Which are the best overseas property publications to read?
There are many! If you are investing in overseas to make money then you can read our Overseas book section or our own factsheets and eBook on buying abroad.

Need to find out more? Try our Property Overseas Store or join as a member of Designs on Property and receive support throughout your property project including all our factsheets and ebooks for free. We will even save you £££s money when buying books about overseas property!

Do I need insurance?
You will undoubtedly need buildings and contents insurance and specialist letting insurance if you are renting out the property.

Need to find out more? Try our Property Overseas Store or join as a member of Designs on Property and receive support throughout your property project including all our factsheets and ebooks for free. We will even save you £££s money when booking services such as insurance!

Can I use my property for holiday rentals?
You can rent your property out for tourists to rent, but many countries will require a certificate to do so and you may have to pay tax in that country on income you earn and when you sell.

Need to find out more? Try our Property Overseas Store or join as a member of Designs on Property and receive support throughout your property project including all our factsheets and ebooks for free. We will even save you £££s money when booking services such as letting abroad!

How do I find a removal company?
There are lots of removal companies that will help move your items to and from the UK. Visit our overseas removal services page for more information.

Need to find out more? Try our Property Overseas Store or join as a member of Designs on Property and receive support throughout your property project including all our factsheets and ebooks for free. We will even save you £££s money when booking services such as international removal companies!

Do I have to pay tax on my purchase?
Tax on properties overseas works in two ways. You may have to pay tax in the country that you have bought a property from. This could be income tax or a type of 'capital gains tax' or some countries even charge VAT on properties you purchase. However the UK has 'tax treaties' with some countries which may mean you continue to pay taxes as a UK citizen.

Need to find out more? Try our Property Overseas Store or join as a member of Designs on Property and receive support throughout your property project including all our factsheets and ebooks for free. We will even save you £££s money when booking services such as independent property tax experts!

How do I make an offer?
Offers are typically made to the seller, estate agent or other property professional that is managing the purchase/sale of the property.

Need to find out more? Try our Property Overseas Store or join as a member of Designs on Property and receive support throughout your property project including all our factsheets and ebooks for free. We will even save you £££s money when booking services such as overseas property valuations!

Are there agents that will help relocate people abroad?
If you are looking to move abroad, then it's worth contacting a relocation agent as they can help save you a lot of time and money with work visas or permits and help with settling you in successfully to your new country.

Need to find out more? Try our Property Overseas Store or join as a member of Designs on Property and receive support throughout your property project including all our factsheets and ebooks for free. We will even save you £££s money when booking services such as independent overseas property agents!

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