Your place in the sun
FIVE-MINUTE GUIDE TO... OWNING PROPERTY OVERSEAS
BRITONS stuck at home during the Covid-19 lockdown may be forgiven for spending their time searching overseas property portals and dreaming of buying a place in the sun once the pandemic is finally over.
Property markets in top destinations such as Spain, France, Portugal, Italy and the US are also in lockdown. However when they reopen, buyers will be out hunting for bargains.
They need to be realistic though, as flights may be costlier and some carriers could go bust, which could make it harder to access properties.
Overseas property and finance specialist Simon Conn said appetite for foreign property remains strong and will return once conditions improve: “Our customers are putting their plans on hold for now but eight out of 10 plan to press on as the pandemic recedes.”
There could be plenty of bargains out there, as financially stricken vendors rush to sell and potential buyers drop out after losing their jobs.
David Fuster, founding partner of Spanish law firm Fuster & Associates, expects a short-term dip in prices but a recovery once the pandemic is under control: “A search on foreign property portals suggest a 10 per cent drop in the sales price of second-hand homes, as many owners are under financial pressure right now.”
Those who have cash or can get cheap financing could find great buying opportunities, Fuster added.
Marc Pritchard, sales and marketing director at developer Taylor Wimpey España, said buyers may benefit from today’s low interest rates, but cautious lenders may tighten criteria, so start planning your finances in advance.
But tread carefully: “If buying new, look for experienced developers with the financial strength to survive the crisis.” Pritchard said buyers can carry out virtual online property visits, researching their chosen area using Google Maps and Images, or contact developers direct.
Dreams of a home in the sun endure. he added: “Spain’s sunny weather, beaches, golf courses, lifestyle and gastronomy will still be there when the lockdown ends.”
Bargain seekers also have to factor currency fluctuations into their calculations, as the pound has fallen 2.93 per cent this year against the euro and
6.68 per cent against the US dollar, making foreign property more expensive in sterling terms.
Edouard Metzger, chief technology officer at currency transfer service Pagofx, urged buyers to keep an eye on currency markets and be ready to send money at the right time.
“Also, beware of hidden charges by your payment provider which can wipe out any gains from moving money at the right time,” he said.
Conn advised that to insure a troublefree purchase, hire an independent lawyer and surveyor with no links to the vendor or developer and get all contracts accurately translated into English.
Those nervous about the impact of flights might consider buying a property they could drive to from the UK, for example in France, Spain or Portugal, he added.
Conn said one thing British buyers do not have to worry about is Brexit, regardless of what happens in withdrawal talks: “Britons will still be free to buy in the same way as people from non-eu countries, such as Switzerland or Russia.”
ALLURE: Bargain seekers will return