Buying International Real Estate: Guide to the Global Property Market

5 mins read

If you are thinking of investing in international real estate, this is a wise move to make. After all, any savvy investor has a broad portfolio of various types of property. Additionally, you might want a summer place in the sun, to retire and live abroad. And what a choice there is! Hundreds of countries all with a unique culture, food, traditions, and lifestyle, have a multitude of buyers and sellers from every corner.

British buyers often like Spain, Portugal, and France, while others like Americans often look to exotic destinations like Mexico, Costa Rica, and the Philippines. Some people head to France for the Alpine skiing regions, while others prefer sandy beaches and hot temperatures. Now, comes the next question, people often ask.

That is where the best country is? The truth is when asking which country is best for properties, there is no one right answer for everyone, and the cheapest country isn’t necessarily the best investment either. The answer depends on many factors to consider when choosing where to buy. Let us look at those now.

Tips for International Real Estate Investment

1: Reason for Buying

This is probably the most crucial aspect because it decides the type of house you will buy. If investing is a primary reason, look at more than just gardens and private pools. Assess the local tourism market if it is a buy-to-let, or for capital growth, regional developments, and investments by councils into social amenities. If you plan to use it as a summer home, consider the nearest distance to bars, restaurants, banks, supermarkets, and bus routes. If you plan to live there all year round, space and living costs are significant factors.

2: Budget, House Values, and Exchange Rates

Any savvy investor will say budget comes first, especially when taking out a mortgage to fund the purchase. Also remember that all overseas real estate markets price in their home country’s currency. We have many clients who buy abroad and still talk about the value of their house in their home country currency.

buying overseas

The exchange rate plays a large factor in long term capital growth or decline. This is a risk or gain to take when investing abroad because they change daily. Also look at using a foreign exchange company to transfer funds to save money on banks rates. Sit down with pen and paper and calculate your budget before choosing a new home. Factor in extra costs like lawyer, solicitors, and furniture. Account for roughly 10 to 15% for this.

3: Culture and Language

For the large part, most English-speaking home buyers don’t know the language of the country they buy-in. In most cases, they do not need to, because they buy in tourist resorts where locals speak English to improve their job chances in bars, restaurants, and hotels. But, remember for legal processes, like property buying or residency applications, you need a translator. Additionally, get to know about the culture of potential places on your list. For example, in Turkey, the westernised south and west coasts hosts many Europeans but head North to the Bursa region, and it is conservative. That is why many Middle-Eastern nationalities buy there.

3: Think Locally – Not Countrywide

Rather than looking at countries, look at regions. For example, southern Spain is popular with foreign buyers while few venture to the North, simply because the weather climate is hotter. Likewise, expat communities pack the Aegean and Mediterranean coasts of Turkey but hardly anyone goes to the conservative east, with no beaches, a traditional culture, and few locals that speak foreign languages. People looking at holiday lodges in the UK tend to stick to well-known holiday destinations like Cornwall and the Isle of Wight. Whereas in Portugal, Chiado, Estrela, and Belem stand out. So rather than ask which country to buy in, choose a country and research potential places.

4: Buying Process and Fiscal Policy

Naturally, every country has its own rules and regulations. As your estate agent, we walk all our customers through the process, so they are never on their own, but timeframes can vastly differ. For investments, also check out the country’s tax policies, especially when it comes to capital gains, and renting out the home. Certain places like Paris have clamped down on self-catering rentals made through companies like Air BNB, and Turkey has implemented a system for proprietors to record details of everyone who stays. This is an extra factor to consider alongside paying income on any earnings.

international real estate

5: Think Mid to Long Term

For many investors, flipping houses is a prime opportunity to make quick cash. However, it never works abroad. Local knowledge of the market and where to snap up those bargain properties is essential. Additionally, auctioned repossessed houses are a whole new ballgame. For capital growth, always think mid to long term.

6: Citizenship by Real Estate Investment

Whether your purpose for buying is an investment, a summer holiday home or long-term residence, some countries offer a citizenship scheme. At the moment, Portugal’s system has seen much success, especially from nationalities who want to become an EU citizen. Likewise, Turkey’s system receives much success from Middle Eastern nationalities. It is essential to review the small print, though. For example, in Spain, investing only gets family residency, and you don’t receive citizenship until you have lived there for ten years. Every country’s minimum entry-level and application requirements vary.

buy a home abroad

7: Your International Home Search

Finding international properties for sale is relatively easy. Start by browsing our portfolio of apartments and villas for sale around the world. This will help you to compare precisely what you get for your money, and the standard of housing. Each listing contains everything to know, including location, price, and home features. To find out more about any listing, use the contact details or enquiry form, and we will send it through via email.

8: Also of Interest

Top Countries to Buy Overseas Property: As mentioned before, some countries are more popular than others for overseas house purchases. Reasons vary from the language, value for money, culture or merely the flight distance between home destinations. For this article, we combed our databases and collected the stats of where we receive the most enquiries for, and where people ultimately end up. We also discuss the reasons why.

European Countries for Retirement: Many people dream of living in Europe and why not? With a fabulous culture, art, and dining scene, as well as sandy beaches and gorgeous landscapes, it is a great destination to choose. But where stands out as the best place not only for home purchases but also for living and working there?

About Us: We are Spot Blue, an international real estate agent. We have helped buyers invest, move, and live to the chosen destination of their dreams. Having been featured in many award-winning publications, our years of experience, and local knowledge from our estate agents around the world, allow us to keep up to date with developments so we can help clients maximise their capital growth and build a well performing property portfolio. Call us today and chat with an agent about investing in international real estate.

uk holiday homes for sale

About Natalie

Natalie is a dedicated real estate professional currently working at Spot Blue International Property. With over a decade of experience in the industry, she has acquired a wealth of knowledge and expertise regarding global properties.