Much of Europe is now on lockdown or semi-lockdown as coronavirus takes hold and governments attempt to contain its spread. For many people who had begun or planned to begin the process of buying a home abroad, it can be disappointing for things to grind to a halt – but you don’t have to entirely put your dream on hold. Here’s what you can do.
Make the most of online portals and phone conversations
It’s easy to browse other homes from the comfort of your own! Start your property hunt on Green-Acres’ portal, looking in both areas that you know and love and those you perhaps don’t know so well – you can even explore these areas on Google Streetview, looking at the nearest shops, services and general environment of a street or village.
Draw up a shortlist of properties you’d like, and have anyone else involved in the process, whether a partner or older children, draw up their own shortlist. Then, compare notes and start whittling down to the final ‘grand shortlist’!
Start speaking to estate agents
Many agents will be going through a lull at the moment, so now’s an ideal time to start the conversation with them. The more time they have to understand your search and what you’re looking for (and not looking for), the better equipped they will be to show you the perfect homes when things return to normalcy and you can come out to view.
Plan your currency transfer
Sending your money abroad to pay for a house isn’t quite as simple as buying holiday money, and even that is not simple with the amount of volatility on the currency markets now. The big risk of paying for a home using another currency if you just send it through the banks is that you don’t know exactly how much it will cost. The foreign exchange markets never stop moving, and so when you agree to, say, €300,000, you don’t know that the cost of those euros in pounds, dollars or whatever it is will be the same when you come to pay. Very often, it can be thousands different.
The simple way to protect yourself against this is to lock in the same exchange rate through your currency broker with what’s known as a ‘forward contact’. This means that you agree in advance how much euros you will need over the next year and how much they will cost you in pounds. You pay a 10% deposit upon signing the contract, the currency broker buys the total amount and then you pay the rest as normal over the year. That way, even when the exchange rates drop, you don’t find yourself unexpectedly forking out thousands extra. Find out more about how this works in the Property Buyer’s Guide to Currency.
Make use of power of attorney
If you’re already further down the process, all is not lost! If you’re comfortable with it, you can grant your lawyer power of attorney to sign certain documents on your behalf, so that things can still progress. If you can have papers signed and allow the notary to commence searches, this could be a good use of the quiet period, for instance.
It’s easy to protect your money against the risk of sending it overseas. Find out how in the Property Buyer’s Guide to Currency
If you find the home of your dreams but it’s beyond your budget, effective negotiation could make the vital difference. Download the How to Negotiate Abroad Guide.
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