February half term is coming up, the sun’s shining in southern Europe (20ºs in parts of the Costa del Sol already) and there are still ten months to move during the Brexit transition period to retain your EU rights. This sounds like prime viewing trip season to us! 

Your viewing trip is one of the most important parts of your property hunt: it’s when you take your shortlist of homes from the internet and start the hunt in earnest in real life. But it can be common to find yourself doing a trip and not quite finding that perfect home – so you have to come back a second or third time. So how can you increase the chances of it being successful? We look at our top 5 tips to do your viewing trip the right way.

1. Understand what kind of property suits your lifestyle

Most people know the basic advice to draw up a list of ‘must-haves’, ‘no-thank-yous’ and ‘nice-to-haves’. However, a common mistake is to make this up of features of the house from the off – land, a pool etc. Perhaps the most common delayer on a viewing trip is this criteria then being refined the more properties you see. So, to get it right from the office, make the starting point your lifestyle. Think about how you would use the property first, and then work out your features from that. It might be nice to have a few acres of land, but it won’t necessarily suit you if you want to be out and about and not needing to keep on top of maintenance and gardening. Likewise, if you’re planning only on making lots of short trips, you might actually want more storage than you’d think, so you can leave clothes and so on and not need to cart over a large amount of belongings every time.

2. Decide how to organise your trip

Generally, you’ll have two options. Firstly, you could organise it yourself: that way, you can arrange viewings with multiple agents at your own pace. Alternatively, you can do it through an agent, and they will arrange your accommodation and viewings from their own portfolio, usually for a very small cost of £99. Going through an agent will generally be the better option if you know the specific style of property you’re after and their portfolio matches that, whereas doing it yourself will usually work better if you want to see a very wide range of places in potentially a longer timeframe than two to three days and don’t mind paying for your own accommodation and transport.

3. Work out how you’re going to transfer your money

The second big delayer on a viewing trip is if you have to go home and make decisions that you could have made in advance. The property market can move fast in popular areas, and it’s important to remember that in many mainland European countries, it’s much harder to gazump someone else who’s made an offer. So, if you make an offer and need to pay the reservation deposit to secure it, you need to be able to act fast. Going back home and only just starting the conversation with a currency broker then can lead to delays which allow someone else to offer, pay their deposit and have the home secured.

Make sure that you're ready to act if needed.

Make sure that you’re ready to act if needed.

4. Control the number of properties and attendees

In the same vein as organising your finances, you need to make sure that all decision-makers are on the trip. That way, you don’t need to go and discuss things over with anyone else. Equally, try and limit the number of other people on the trip – sometimes it can bog things down or muddy the waters with too many people offering their opinion. The home needs to ultimately be right for you and no-one else! Viewing can be surprisingly tiring, so most agents will also recommend that you try and see no more than 5-7 a day. Any more and they will also start to blend into one.

5. Make use of your estate agent

Whether you organise your trip through an agent or not, do make the most of their knowledge. They will normally be living in the area you’re looking at, and will often be expats themselves. They’re a valuable source of information on the local area, and will be more than happy to recommend places to check out, whether it’s for dining, nightlife or leisure. Take the chance to look not just at the property but at the surrounding area, and imagine yourself living there. If it feels right, then it could be the one!

The pound could suddenly drop at any time, again, with so much uncertainty around the final trade negotiation deal with the EU – but you can protect your money against this risk. 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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