Home Buyers Look Abroad

The Journal (Newcastle, England), February 2, 2005 | Go to article overview

Home Buyers Look Abroad


Byline: By Richard Freeman-Wallace

It's that time of year again when we feel sun-starved and start yearning for sunshine, sea and sangria.

It's not surprising that more British people have bought properties abroad in the last 30 years than any other European country.

Now young people are joining the "jet-to-let" generation. They are looking abroad to take their first step on the property ladder because house prices are too high for them in the UK, according to a report by Oceanico Developments.

Nearly half of the 18 to 29-year-olds questioned planned to buy abroad. However, if you decide to join them by buying overseas, you must be aware of the legalities, because property law can be fraught with difficulties.

No two countries in the world have the same legal systems, so the rules of buying a home or land have complicated idiosyncrasies, depending on location.

To complicate things further, regions within countries may have their own property specific regulations.

First and foremost, consider the costs. Generally these will include:

* An estate agent's fee for buyers (this is common in many parts of Europe).

* Legal fees.

* Taxes.

* Architect's fees, rebuilding costs and decorating.

* Fees if you are selling your current property, and moving costs.

* Fees if you later decide to sell your property abroad (perhaps because it was an investment), including capital gains tax.

Renting out

If you are planning to rent out your overseas property, here are a few things to bear in mind:

* You may not be able to rent all year round. Plan for about five to six months a year.

* You will face letting costs, including cleaning and maintenance. These may be higher than if you were living in the property all year round.

* You may be liable to tax on your rental income in that particular country. Or there may be a "double taxation" agreement with the UK, which means you are liable to tax over here. You should always get advice from an expert in that particular tax jurisdiction.

Outside of the EU the legal aspects of buying property are equally changeable.

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