Don’t Get Scammed When Buying A Property Overseas
If you want a more relaxing lifestyle, and you prefer a life in the sun to the unrelenting misery of a UK winter, then you may well be thinking of joining the thousands of Brits who’ve bought a property overseas. But take heed, your dreams may well turn to nightmares if you don’t take professional advice.
Local laws and the unsuspecting purchaser
Every country has its own set of rules and regulations concerning property, and
there is no way that an overseas buyer can expect to be familiar with them all. It’s always a good idea to seek professional advice. If you are thinking of investing in Portugal property, or looking at a house in Italy then you should always talk to a local specialist who’ll be able to guide you through the legal process. Just because you are familiar with the house buying process in the UK, you are not qualified to understand some of the archaic laws concerning land and property overseas.
Buying in Spain
The Daily Telegraph published a feature that exposed some of the scams that may be encountered by the unwary. A number of Brits have bought properties in Spain, only to discover that these houses have contravened local planning laws and will have to be demolished. At least 4,000 people might find their dream homes could be demolished under the jaws of the bulldozer. In some parts of Spain, corruption is said to be rife and unscrupulous developers deliberately target the British market.
Innocent victims should be aware that the Foreign Office (FO) can do little in these local property disputes. A spokesman for the FO said, ‘we recognise this is a substantial problem and we can bring to the attention of the Spanish authorities the problems British residents are facing,’ but that’s all the FO can do.
Some popular scams
If a vendor suggests that a cash purchase will be a cheaper and easy option, this is probably not the case. The blog, proper-Spanish Tapas highlights some alarming stories concerning UK foreign property owners who wanted to sell their homes. In one instance, a woman who was trying to sell her house in France was approached directly and offered a sum of money above the advertised selling price. A £12,000 money order was placed in her account to cover legal costs, and the buyer asked the vendor to pass this on to his alleged lawyers. The buyer very wisely waited, ten days later the money order bounced. The house sale was never going to take place. Cash is never king in the property world.
You might lose your deposit
The first step for buying a home in any part of the world is usually to place your deposit with the vendor’s legal representatives. If you are thinking of buying a property overseas, try to check up on the validity of the development company or at least their financial security. Many purchasers have been caught out thanks, in part, to the crisis in the Eurozone, and have seen their hard earned deposits evaporate. The independent property advice hub, Buy Association advises that: ‘Scrimping on independent legal advice at the very beginning can cost you so much more in the long run.’