Your place in the sun

FIVE-MINUTE GUIDE TO... OWN­ING PROP­ERTY OVER­SEAS

Sunday Express - - FINANCIAL - By Har­vey Jones

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

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