1. Find a good agent
Getting in touch with a good agent, or agents, is the first step towards a successful viewing trip. They will listen to your needs and select properties that fit your wish-list, enabling you to maximise your time in the country.
Before you choose an agent though, make sure that they cover the area that you want to buy in and that they have properties that meet your criteria. The agent’s website may list lots of properties, but if there is one that you have your heart set on, make sure that it is still available before departing on your trip, as popular properties sell fast.
To help you assess how efficient an agent is, call them before you go, to get a sense of how helpful they are. You could also send them an email and see how quick they are to respond. Don’t be afraid to ask them what their service includes, what their fee structure is and what after sales services they offer. Also, ask for references so that you can talk to people who have used them successfully before. It is important you feel comfortable be able to ask them open questions.
2. Be ready to send money abroad
For most people, buying a property in a foreign currency, ie euros, means having to transfer funds from a UK bank account to a foreign account in the country where the property is. You need to think about this in advance of your viewing trip – it may be you find a property and need to pay a deposit to secure it.
The safest and cheapest way to organise sending money abroad is to speak to a currency exchange specialist, such as Smart Currency Exchange. This is important for a number of reasons. Firstly, Smart can help you to set your budget in both Sterling and the foreign currency you are purchasing in. Secondly, it is very important to understand how quickly exchange rates can move and how significant these movements can be. Smart Currency Exchange has five tips for overseas property-buyers:
1. Understand the consequences of currency fluctuations
2. Use a forward contract to avoid losses by fixing the price of your property
3. Open an account with a currency specialist as soon as possible
4. Know your Sterling budget before you travel
5. Prefund your brokers currency client account to minimise inefficiencies
3. Hire an independent solicitor
Finally, buying property anywhere can be a complicated process, but when you add in the complications of different laws and language barriers, it is important that you have someone on your side who understands how things operate and will protect your interests. For this reason, it is advisable to employ an independent, bilingual lawyer who is well versed in property sales and who can guide you through every aspect of the buying process. Remember, different countries have different laws. You could take your solicitor’s details with you on the viewing trip, contacting them if you have any queries or need to sign something or pay a deposit.