How to avoid the pitfalls of buying a home abroad: From legal wrangles to currency worries, the eight key issues you need to consider
Couple who bought a decrepit French Château for $500k after seeing just FOUR of its 94 rooms reveal the major lessons they've learned while renovating a 300-year-old monument
- Perth-born couple Karina and Craig Waters bought a crumbling French Château in 2013 to renovate
- The couple spoke to FEMAIL about their extensive restoration process over the past five years
- Mrs Waters also shared the major lessons they've learned about the cost and process of restoration
- The couple bought the Château for $500K after it was on the market for four years - they saw just four rooms
- While Spain and France are popular spots, other countries are more affordable
- Bulgaria and Brazil are among the most affordable places to buy a second home
- Each country will have a different legal system so it's important to wise up
1. Picking the wrong location
Bedrooms : 12
Habitable Size : 600m2
Land Size : 26,000m2
Surrounded by green hills and bubbling waters of the Creuze and Beauze, this castle welcomes you in the heart of France and the Limousin area.
This former home of a legendary tapestry family, along with its 12th-century chapel, has now been transformed into a beautiful boutique hotel Comprising 10 luxury suites boasting unique atmosphere.
The Château Sallandrouze is an ideal venue for an intimate country break. The shaded pergola overlooking the large park Allows you to fully unwind.
Number of rooms: 10
Type of property: Hotel
Due to a sale falling through this genuine distressed sale must be sold over the next 14 days the price is non negotiable and it’s a first come first served basis.
Situated in the heart of the historical town of Aubusson surrounded by green hills and bubbling rivers of the Limousin is this former home of a legendary tapestry family, which has now been transformed into a beautiful boutique hotel comprising 10 luxury suites in 2008.
The property has been completely renovated to the highest standards over a 3 year period from 2005 – 2008 with no expense spared at a cost of around 2.5 million euros, unfortunately due to the fact the property has been empty now for over a year it will require a little freshening up, but this can be achieved at very little cost and time.
The property is spread over 5 levels with the basement holding the kitchens, spa and treatment rooms, boiler room and storage, ground floor is an abundance of reception rooms with fireplaces and luxury wall papers overlooking the lovely landscaped gardens at the back, the rooms all have the original high ceilings and a lovely glass veranda. The next two levels have 10 large spacious and light bedrooms all en-suite and the 5th level is 2 owners’ apartments. The chateau also has lift access to all floors.
This property would be absolutely ideal for anyone wanting a business or a private residence as it’s situated on the outskirts of a busy tourist town.
I must stress at this price this is a bargain and should not be missed it has been priced to sell not to sit looking pretty on the market and has recently been valued at well over 1.5 million euros.
Description Chateau Sallandrouze
Room features Chateau Sallandrouze
Bathroom with bathtub
Bathroom with shower
Windows that open
WiFi in the rooms
Hotel features Chateau Sallandrouze
Garden or park
Child/ Baby Cot
WiFi in Lobby
After thinking for a few months and testing the coffers for funds. I decided for just a simple house of character.
- Carry out exhaustive research. Attend international property shows and speak to experts. Subscribe to magazines and websites devoted to expats in your chosen country. Ask plenty of questions in the forums.
- When you have narrowed down an area, take trips out there to get an understanding of what life is really like – and the costs involved.
2. Legal lapses
- Before you buy, find a good, local, independent, bilingual lawyer with no ties to the vendor – or to the estate agent or property developer. You must find someone who will act in your interests.
- Never sign paperwork in a foreign language.
- Note that lawyers perform different functions in different countries, so do not assume they will do all the necessary background checks. Get to grips with their responsibilities – and yours.
3. Mortgage mistakes
- When budgeting for your deposit and mortgage, be sure to set aside sufficient money to cover agents’ fees, legal costs, survey fees, property registration, moving costs and insurance. Also factor in any tax on property transactions.
- Speak to a specialist overseas mortgage broker who can help you devise the best buying approach. They can also explain any tax implications.
- If you are buying a property with the aim of letting it, make sure you have done all the financial sums.
4. Currency calamity
- Do not make the mistake of going straight to your bank for currency. Try a specialist such as TransferWise, FairFX, Caxton FX, Moneycorp or Fexco, as they often offer lower charges and better exchange rates.
- Look beyond any upfront fee. Nilan Peiris, from TransferWise, says: ‘While most people concentrate on the upfront fee – with many banks advertising zero per cent commission to send money abroad – the crucial issue is the exchange rate.’
- Look at fixing an exchange rate in advance. That way, regardless of how the market moves, you can be certain of the price of the property. With a ‘forward contract’ you can lock in a competitive exchange rate for up to 12 months – so you will not lose out if the pound weakens.
- Check out tools such as the real time currency rate tracker from TransferWise. This sends live updates to your inbox when the rate for your chosen currency is favourable.
5. Forgetting ongoing costs
- Research all likely future costs related to a property purchase before you sign on the dotted line.
- When paying for ongoing costs, try to ensure you convert your pounds at the best possible exchange rate.
6. Underestimating how hard it is to move
- Make sure you use reputable destination agents.
- Do your research to avoid being faced with unexpected bills as you go through the process.
7. Pension pitfalls
- If the state pension is a significant part of your income, think carefully about any overseas move as you could see its value eroded.
- Remember to factor in any personal pensions. Patrick Connolly, of Bath-based adviser Chase de Vere, says: ‘You can leave this money in the UK or potentially transfer it to an overseas pension scheme. But you need to be careful because pension rules vary across countries.
- ‘Overseas pensions can be more expensive or less flexible than your UK pension and if you do not transfer to the right type of scheme, you could face a stiff initial penalty – in some cases 40 per cent or more.’
- Consider putting off your purchase until the position on Brexit is clear.
- If you are set on pushing ahead, keep abreast of all political developments.
- If you are worried about the impact on currency values, a forex specialist can help you reduce any risks.