If you’re considering buying a property overseas, you’ll need to bear in mind that the legal system and steps to follow may be very different from those you have experienced in the UK. This guide is intended as practical advice which to consider when purchasing a property or timeshare overseas.
Consider drawing up a will in the country you own your overseas property in, to ensure that those you wish to inherit your property and assets overseas actually do so as inheritance laws may differ to that of the UK. Having made all your enquiries, ask yourself if you are satisfied in your own mind that you can go ahead with the purchase of the property in question without encountering problems. If not, make more checks.
Many property owners encounter problems with their property because they did not seek independent legal advice and instead used lawyers and translators/interpreters who were recommended by the estate agent or developer and in some cases were acting for both parties. Appoint an independent, English-speaking lawyer who is licensed to practice and is experienced in property sales.
If you choose to work with a British estate agent, promoter or lawyer, check that they are qualified to practice both in the UK and overseas and that they are reliable and have experience of operating in the country in which you intend buying. Also check that that they are registered with the Law Society in the UK and specialise in international transactions.
You should also check that your lawyer has professional indemnity insurance.
If you don’t have a good understanding of the language of the country in which you’re intending to buy, make sure that you get all contracts and relevant documentation translated by an independent translator and that an interpreter accompanies you to all meetings. Be wary of using a translator or interpreter that has been recommended by the agent or lawyer.
Do your homework: you should analyse and compare a range of different products and services offered by different lending companies. Do not automatically take a mortgage recommended by the seller or their agent. If you have any doubts about the terms and conditions, ask the lender to clarify.
Look for the mortgage which is most appropriate for your capabilities and needs. There are a range of mortgages on offer, and you should pay special attention to the interest rate and repayment period, fees for setting up the mortgage as well as early repayment and cancellation fees.
Make sure you fully understand the mortgage agreement you sign.
Also consider the impact of fluctuations of the local currency against Pounds Sterling and how any changes may affect your interest rate rises on your repayments.
If you believe that you have been a victim of fraud and you have no insurance policy/bank guarantee you should seek independent legal advice regarding taking legal action through the courts. Further information is available in the property fraud guidance.
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