Seven tips on taking a viewing trip

You’ve been looking at overseas property websites for a while now. You’ve spent long hours watching daytime TV shows about buying abroad. It’s about time you took things to the next level.

The next step on your journey to owning an overseas home is probably a property viewing trip. There are two kinds of viewing trip. The first are those where you’re not quite ready to buy – you might have a property in the UK to sell, for example, and have not yet persuaded your spouse that it’s the right idea! – but you want to get a proper look at what is available.

The other sort are the serious buying trips where you’re ready to roll. If that’s you, here are seven tips that we have learned from our decade (and more) helping people to buy homes abroad.


Before you go

Be on the same page with your partner. Before you book all those estate agent viewings, check with any other decision makers in the household about what, exactly, you’re looking for. One good way is to buy two copies of a property magazine and, independently, each mark the properties you either love or believe are only fit for the wrecking ball. Now swap copies and marvel at your partner’s taste!

At Smart we can ensure that if you pay a 10% deposit on this trip, by the time you pay the balance in weeks or months exchange rate changes haven’t taken the price out of your reach.

Know your budget. As any traveller knows, exchange rates vary significantly from day to day. That’s bad enough when you’re just nipping over to Barcelona for a weekend, but when you’re spending hundreds of thousands buying a house, a process taking several months, you need to know exactly what it will cost. That is why you should speak to a currency company before you go looking, not after. At Smart we have a range of ways to ensure that if you pay a 10% deposit on this trip, by the time you complete in weeks or months, exchange rate changes haven’t taken the price out of your reach.

Get your team in place. Another cost variable is buying expenses, such as tax, fees and lawyers, which can add 10% to the price. You definitely want to get lawyered up though, as you’ll be out of your comfort zone and spending a lot of money.


While you’re looking

Imagination, imagination, imagination. With many overseas homes, especially if you’re looking for something past its first flush of youth, you’ll need to engage the imagination and not just the eyes. Don’t expect a John Lewis kitchen or Farrow & Ball feature wall, and the most sparkling pool resembles a swamp after a week or two’s neglect. So do consider that ugly duckling property, which might be tens of thousands cheaper but cost just hundreds to turn into a stunner.

Think long term. Really long term. The joy of owning bricks and mortar is in its longevity. Right now, you may only care whether the pool is toddler-proof, but before you know it the kids will be screaming for WiFi, then a local bar. Don’t you just love the idea of this being a place your family will cherish for generations?


Making that decision

Be bold. When the world is your oyster, how do you settle on one place? Around the next headland there might be a cheaper property with a better view. Well, there will always be somewhere else, but if you love it and you can afford it, just do it.

Be ready. If you find the place you love, you will often be asked to sign a holding deposit (there’s less chance of gazumping abroad, thank heavens). This is where having your lawyer and currency expert chosen, briefed and ready for your call, pays dividends. You can have the contract checked and be ready to put a holding deposit down straight away. If you leave it until you get home, the best places will be gone.

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