There are five main stages to buying a property abroad:
1. Conducting research and Due Diligence on foreign property
Researching your chosen market and potential property purchase is strongly advised. Use some of the information on this website, in the individual country sections, the snapshot profiles and more in-depth STEP profiles, for each country, for example.
2. Making an Offer on a property abroad
Having done the research into the specific area, or country, and once a property has been chosen, a verbal offer should be made through the agent. Once an agreement on price is reached, a reservation fee may be required (mostly for off-plan).
At this stage, if not earlier, a lawyer should be appointed to check and formalise the agreement, before you part with any money. For off-plan there is often little room for negotiation, as the price is normally discounted already. Although if there are a few units left in the final phase of construction, sometimes a developer may be more accommodating. For a resale property, then there may be room for negotiation, depending on the vendor's personal situation.
3. Appointing a Lawyer for the property transaction
It is wise to appoint a lawyer who is fluent in your language, so that you properly understand all the legalities and exactly what is happening. You can have a local lawyer, or a lawyer based in your home territory, but who also knows the legal set-up in the country you are buying in. We can suggest appropriate lawyers to carry out the necessary checks on the property and complete the legal requirements of the sale.
4. The Purchase of a home abroad
Each country may have its own idiosyncrasies (see individual country profiles for specifics). Normally the buyer opens an account with a local bank, through which relevant payments can be made. It is possible to transfer money to this account, to then be converted into the local currency of the property purchase, in order to pay funds to the vendor. However this is not always the cheapest or most cost-effective way. Often a foreign exchange company offers better rates, which can then transfer funds to the local bank. We can introduce to forex dealers with competitive rates.
5. Completion on your apartment or house overseas
Whether it is an off plan, or re-sale property, then the completion process is usually the same. The buyer will go, with their lawyer and the vendor, to the notary for all the final contract paperwork to be signed. At this stage, any final monies outstanding are paid and then Title, or ownership, transferred to the buyer as the new owner. This may be done locally at a town hall or registry office and the title paperwork then forwarded on.
For off-plan property, typically the procedure is:
Reservation Fee - This is required immediately, to reserve the unit(s) and lock into the price. The required reservation fee depends on the unit chosen, the developer and the development.
Deposit - After 30 days, 20-30% of the price of the property is due. Different developers may require different deposit payment percentages. They may also require interim payments throughout the construction process. It is important to fully understand exactly what payment structure is in place, before committing to a property purchase.
Completion - Upon completion, the remaining 70-80% is payable (if further staged payments have not been made).
For re-sale property, typically the procedure is:
Deposit - can be 10% in some countries or up to 30% of the asking price.
Completion - the final monies will be paid at the time of signing in the notary's office. The time frame from reservation to completion, in most cases, can be quite short - sometimes only 6 weeks. In cases where the country has a more bureaucratic process, then this can take longer.
It usually saves time, effort and money if the finances or mortgage can be arranged and in place, prior to the physical property search and commitment to purchase. This is of particular relevance where the mortgage application process may take a while. For example with markets like Poland, where only a handful of banks may lend to foreign nationals and there are fewer mortgage products available, the application process may take slightly longer.
Please remember that:
For new and re-sale property purchases, all upfront payments may be forfeited, should the buyer decide to pull out of the sale prior to completion for a reason which is not stipulated in the contract.
In the case of an off-plan purchase it is important to ensure there is a relevant clause in the purchase contract stating that the developer will allow the buyer to sell on, prior to completion, if that is the intention (or "flip" the property as it is sometimes known). Any breach of the terms of a sales contract may result in loss of monies paid up to that point.
Property Venture® helps time-strapped expats and professionals, who don’t have the local presence, or capacity, to acquire the targeted amount of properties for them. Property Venture® is an award-winning, Boutique property consultancy that provides bespoke Property Finding or sourcing and mentoring for clients.
A decade-long Advisory Board member of the Association of International Property Professionals (AIPP), the Industry Body improving standards for buyers of foreign property. As well as members of the UK Property Redress Scheme. We are known for our quality customer service and non-pressurised approach to sales. Take a look at what our clients say