Buying a house anywhere in the world is a huge undertaking. But having to deal with all the forms, fees and regulations in a foreign country is a very stressful business as I found when looking for a property in Spain. So it would be even worse if you make a mistake. However, you can learn from me, and avoid these common pitfalls and you should be on your way to domestic bliss in your new dream home.
Not having a survey carried out
Your mortgage company will likely carry out a basic valuation survey, but you should also have an independent, more intricate survey done. This will show you any structural damage they may have missed. There is nothing worse than having to pay out thousands of euros to fix a problem that you could have seen before you even bought the property. Just seeing that a property looks fine is not enough. If your new house is older than 25 years old, you will definitely need a survey, but you should not take a risk, even on newer properties.
Getting the wrong mortgage:
Getting an interest only mortgage may be tempting payments are lower, and it may be easier to get initially, but remember you are only paying off the interest on the loan, not paying it off. Make sure you have a repayment mortgage when buying abroad.
Paying too much
Falling in love with your potential new home can make you do strange things. Deciding you must have a home will make you pay over the odds, pushing an already strained budget to breaking point, and making you more likely to be in negative equity down the line. For a realistic idea of prices, look at plenty of websites in different areas. In Javea there are better villas for the price than in the similar resort of Sitges, for example.
Buying in the wrong area:
Buying a house in an underrated area can be a boon, if the surrounding house prices increase, then yours will also. Unfortunately lots of people speculate on this with the homes they plan to live in, and when the rise in prices does not occur, they are left with a house in an undesirable area. Also, it is advisable to rent before buying abroad to make sure you will enjoy living in the new area.
Not saving money for decorating:
So you have found your house, had your survey done, been approved for your mortgage and moved in to your dream house. But did you think about the extra money you will need to make the place just the way you want it? Remember to factor in redecorating costs when you move, or you will have to live in a house you do not like for a while.
Good luck finding your new home, and hopefully you will remember to avoid those common mistakes.