Brexit cre­at­ing myths al­ready when it comes to buy­ing EU prop­erty

Financial Mirror (Cyprus) - - FRONT PAGE -

Hav­ing lived through the Scot­tish ref­er­en­dum on in­de­pen­dence from Eng­land it is like a déjà vu feel­ing ap­proach­ing the UK vote on stay­ing in the Euro­pean Union that we now know will take place in June.

Brexit, the term con­jured up to de­scribe leav­ing the EU, is al­ready hit­ting the head­lines and, as there was in Scot­land, there is a lot of scare­mon­ger­ing go­ing on and it won’t stop un­til the day of the poll.

Ex­pats are go­ing to be stranded in France with­out health­care, Bri­tish peo­ple won’t be able to sell their se­cond homes in Europe, the cur­rency ex­change will af­fect sales, yup, they are all com­ing out of the wood­work.

I wish th­ese kind of head­lines were never writ­ten but I also wish, and hope, that peo­ple will take time to look be­yond the head­lines, es­pe­cially when it comes to buy­ing and sell­ing prop­erty in the EU, par­tic­u­larly France and Spain where the vast ma­jor­ity of Bri­tish buy­ers can be found.

One of the first ‘ myths’ is that Bri­tish peo­ple will be put off buy­ing in places like France and Spain, afraid that it might mean they won’t ‘ own’ their home if the UK leaves. Non­sense, peo­ple hap­pily bought and sold in th­ese coun­tries be­fore and re­ally noth­ing will change in terms of the process.

I am cur­rently sell­ing a prop­erty in France that I have owned for 30 years and I can re­port that the Spring sell­ing sea­son has started al­ready with view­ing be­ing booked by Bri­tish peo­ple for the com­ing weeks.

An­other myth is that peo­ple with hol­i­day homes in Spain and Franc would sud­denly need a visa to visit. This is highly un­likely as it would mean French and Spa­niards need­ing visas to visit Bri­tain and no one in the EU is go­ing to want such a rad­i­cal change.

It should be re­mem­bered that tens of thou­sands of Bri­tish peo­ple own hol­i­day homes in coun­tries like the United States and Turkey and don’t have prob­lems with vis­it­ing or own­er­ship. Like­wise, Chi­nese and Aus­tralians own hol­i­day homes in France and Spain with­out prob­lems.

One area which might be af­fected is get­ting a mort­gage. Cur­rently, it is cheap and fairly easy to get a mort­gage in France or Spain and there is a chance that rates might rise for Bri­tish buy­ers if the UK is no longer a mem­ber of the EU be­cause banks in EU coun­tries view cus­tomers from out with the EU dif­fer­ently and of­ten charge higher rates.

Non-EU cit­i­zens are usu­ally sub­ject to more strin­gent con­di­tions when se­cur­ing a mort­gage, for in­stance pro­vid­ing a larger de­posit. But spe­cial ar­range­ments could be ar­ranged such as cur­rently with peo­ple from Switzer­land and Fin­land who are mem­bers of the Euro­pean Eco­nomic Area (EEA) but not the EU.

In­deed is it highly likely that if the UK left the EU it would be­come a mem­ber of the EAA. It should be noted that many banks lend across bor­ders, and Brexit may not ul­ti­mately cause lenders to re­gard Bri­tons as pos­ing higher risks.

I don’t be­lieve buy­ers have any­thing to worry about what­ever the out­come of the vote in June. They should take ad­van­tage of lower prices in both France and Spain and fol­low their dreams.

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