Let’s rewind the clock to 1973, the year the UK joined the European Union (EU). According to Looking at Great Britain – a study of “British people and customs”, published that year, holidaymakers “seeking a day’s sunshine by the sea and those who enjoy poking around another town” were drawn to British resorts every year. Since then, however, our travelling habits have changed slightly, to say the least. The number of trips we make to popular European cities and resorts has grown exponentially, allowing us to swap saucy postcards and kiss-me-quick hats in Blackpool for sun-drenched Mediterranean beaches. Thousands of us have even gone a step further and bought a home in our favourite destination, enabling us to fully benefit from the perks of EU membership: tax, insurance, health care, travel etc.
Anyone wanting to invest in property in the EU in the coming months will be wondering how Brexit might impact these favourable arrangements once it becomes a reality. Trying to answer this question conclusively is a bit like putting your finger in the wind at present because exit negations are still ongoing, meaning we don’t know the exact terms of our exit. That doesn’t mean to say we can’t analyse the potential challenges that could arise for property owners when we finally wave goodbye to the EU.
Getting to your holiday home
The EU could require UK citizens to apply for a visa to visit a country within its borders once both parties have said their fond farewells, which might make popping over to your pad in the sun to top up your tan less of a breeze. Thankfully, according to a number of property and travel experts, it’s “highly unlikely” that Brexit will create a requirement for visas to visit our EU neighbours. Even if the worse did happen and you had to plan your winter jaunts a little more carefully, it’s worth remembering that thousands of Brits own property in counties with visa requirements – most notably the US and Turkey – without any problem.
Securing a mortgage
Political disunion could make it harder for British borrowers to obtain a mortgage abroad – or they could be required to pay higher rates. However, countries such as France and Spain, where the ever faithful Brits make up the largest portion of overseas buyers, may push back on plans to implement arrangements that deter them from buying there.
There are only two things certain in life: death and taxes. The latter of the two is made more bearable by EU citizenship, if you purchase a property in the EU. It brings with it a certain level of protection that non-EU citizens don’t benefit from. If Britain withdraws from the EU but remains in the single market, our current tax treatment should remain. Therefore, if Theresa May is to be believed and Brexit means Brexit – aka an absolute departure from the EU – the tax implications of buying overseas could come under the microscope.
Currently, Britons can visit any EU country and expect to receive the same medical service as local residents, and at the same cost – great news for any budding bullfighters! There is a precedent for reciprocal healthcare in the shape of Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway, but again it’s dependent on their continuing membership of the single market.
The health of the pound is more of an immediate issue for anyone considering purchasing a property overseas. After all, the exchange rate will impact your budget and any detrimental market movements could even scupper your plans to buy a farmhouse in France or a villa in Spain altogether. Plus it will hold sway over the value of any ongoing transfers you need to make once you’re in possession of the keys and enjoying your new home.
It’s no secret that the pound has nosedived in value since the Yes vote was announced back in June. And with Article 50 – the two year process for leaving the EU – looming on the horizon, the pound will come under even greater pressure as political and economic uncertainty intensifies. This downward trend has highlighted the need to obtain the best deal possible when transferring your money overseas. By seeking expert market guidance from a currency specialist, you will be able to navigate the ups and downs of the currency market and keep your plans on track.
For a step-by-step guide to buying a property overseas, download a free guide to buying property overseas.
Private seller, advertise on Green-acres
Agency, advertise on Green-acres