The United Nations International Migration Report 2017 suggests that around 258 million people do not live in the countries in which they were born. Data also shows that while around 1.3 million British citizens live in European Union countries, around 1.2 million reside in Australia.
While most people who move overseas end up renting homes, instances of people wanting to buy homes in foreign lands are not uncommon. Besides, several people are now looking at buying real estate overseas as a means of investment. However, if you plan to purchase a property in a country you don’t know much about, various aspects require your attention.
Government regulations surrounding whether foreigners may purchase property tend to vary from one country to another. In Australia, foreigners may purchase a new home but not an established one, and they require permission from the Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB). In Thailand, foreigners may purchase homes in condominiums and apartments that have at least 51% local ownership. The U.S., Spain, and Germany treat international home buyers in almost the same manner as local buyers.
Several counties impose property taxes, which you need to keep paying as long as you remain a property owner. If you plan to sell the property at some point, you might also need to pay capital gains tax. Since tax implications are largely region-specific, it is important that you understand the intricacies before actually purchasing a property.
Even if you live in the country where you wish to purchase a property, it pays to determine your tax residency status. For instance, while you might not be a citizen or permanent resident of a country, you might still be treated as a resident for taxation purposes, as can be the case in Australia.
Getting to understand local regulations can be a time consuming and daunting process. Consider using the services of a lawyer who handles real estate cases so you may rest easy when it comes to checking the property’s title and transferring it in your name. Local real estate agents, on the other hand, may have listings that are unique to them.
Hiring a lawyer comes at a cost, and depending on which country you wish to purchase property in, you might also need to pay real estate agent fees. In the U.S., home buyers don’t pay agent fees, sellers do. Real estate agent fees in Germany vary from two percent to six percent. In India, you might need to pay one percent to two percent.
When buying a home from the secondary market, consider using the services of a professional surveyor. While you will need to pay a fee, this step can help avoid nasty surprises such as structural damage and plumbing problems, which tend to lead to noticeable expenses.
Depending on the country you wish to purchase property in, you may find banks that provide home loans to non-citizens. However, even in countries where it is legal for foreigners to get home loans, not many banks cater to this niche. In addition, there’s a good chance that you will need to pay at least 40% of the property’s value as down payment. If possible, consider getting pre-approved, as this gives you a clear indication of where you stand.
If you wish to make the down payment and pay all associated costs while you’re still in the UK, consider using the services of specialist money transfer companies instead of banks. This is because the former tend to fare noticeably better than the latter when it comes to cost-effectiveness, speed, and customer service.
Flambard Williams has partnered with Cornhill Foreign Exchange so our clients can receive the best possible deal. Depending on where you live and the country where you want to send money, you may also turn to alternatives such as TransferWise, OFX, WorldFirst, or Currencies Direct.
While buying property in a foreign country might seem complicated, you can tide through the process easier with the right kind of help close at hand. Ultimately, it is best that you don’t try to cut corners because they might turn out to be expensive later on.
Article contributed by Jon from iCompareFX.com