What are the golden rules for buying foreign property?

Written by: Graham Gilbert Date: 31 march 2007

The three golden rules for buying property abroad are:

  1. Take independent legal advice
  2. Get a full structural survey done on the property
  3. Speak the language or find someone who does

If you don't do the necessary checks your bargain can fast become a money pit into which you throw good money after bad. So do not be lured by a cheap price tag.

Do not accept pressure from the seller or the agent to buy without the necessary checks. If they are putting pressure on you then ask yourself why, could it be that they want you to commit yourself before you spot a problem? This is the oldest trick in the book and all you need to say is:

"Look, we're going through a process, we're buying this property but we're doing all our enquiries first, if you push us we will walk away".

If you have a limited grasp of French there IS a language barrier - how are you going to read the paperwork and understand the full implications of the contract? OK so the agent speaks fluent English but he has a vested interest in the sale going through - he is not an independent translator and he has no duty of care towards you.

It is essential to have an expert on hand who is fluent in the language and who is fully versed in the legal system so as to represent your interest - if only someone you can fax the contract through to before you sign it!

Get the right people invoved at the right time and you can avoid potential disasters.

We'd love to hear from you!

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