Brexit creating myths already when it comes to buying EU property
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.