The idea of buying an overseas property is something many of us dream of. But what’s the reality and where should you start your search?
Starting your search
It’s easy to do a lot of your window shopping on the web. But be aware that until you actually see the property yourself, you won’t know what you’re getting into. There are lots of websites that list overseas properties and some that are better for specific countries.
I’ve started by listing those sites that are worth looking at if you want to get a feel for the overseas property market:
- A Place in the Sun (an offshoot of the Channel 4 series) was quite easy to use and listed lots of properties. The only criticism (and it’s a relatively minor one) was that the tiers between the minimum prices were broader than on some other sites, so if you knew exactly what your budget was, you might be shown properties you weren’t interested in. There are some useful buying guides on the site and it probably has a bit more information than some overseas property websites.
- Primelocation has an international property section. It has a full country list with a drop-down menu or you can click on an image of popular countries. You can really narrow the region you’d like to view properties in so you’re only seeing properties in a specific part of the country you’re interested in. This was more detailed than most of the other websites I looked at.
- Rightmove has an overseas property section. You can easily click on the photo of a country to get started and search via an interactive map. You can filter your results by price in euros or pounds, by the number of bedrooms and other amenities.
- Zoopla has an overseas property section. It’s very easy to search by country but when I searched for specific regions in Italy, for example, it only came up with a limited selection. There was a good choice of properties when I looked.
SAVVY TIP: If the sites belong to companies you’ve never heard of and they’ve not signed up to any trade body, type their name and ‘complaint’ or ‘problem’ into Google. If there have been one or two complaints, it may not be a problem, but a string of disgruntled customers should raise alarm bells.
You can also look at country specific overseas property websites. These are normally run by overseas property buying services or estates agents. I’ve listed a couple of sites that I’ve dealt with in the past to get you started:
Casa Travella has been selling properties in Italy for over 20 years its founder, Linda Travella, is a real expert in Italian property. The company sells new and resale villas, houses and apartments in Tuscany, the Lakes, Liguria and Sardinia.
SAVVY TIP: There’s a good selection of properties, both old and new, as well as a luxury section of properties that cost €1 million or more. The downside that I could see was that the website isn’t great on mobile.
Properties in Italy. This firm of agents only deals with properties in Venice and the Veneto (the region that Venice is in). The photos on the site are quite basic but it includes a Google map to show the location and a floor plan.
Where to buy in Italy isn’t a property selling website but – as its name suggests – has lots of information about where to buy. It has been written by a British journalist and includes buyer case studies and recommended estate agents for each region. It’s worth a look.
If you want to buy in Spain, don’t do anything before you visit Spanish Property Insight. The website has been created by a journalist and author called Mark Stücklin. He knows more about buying property in Spain than many experts. It doesn’t list properties for sale and is heavy on words of warning. But it should mean you don’t get caught out.
SAVVY TIP: Spain saw a dramatic fall in property prices in 2008. But some are beginning to talk up the market again. Be careful as many experts aren’t so optimistic. If you do decide to buy, it’s vital that you use your own independent lawyer (and not one supplied by the developers).
SAVVY TIP: Be aware that low cost airlines are rumoured to be considering cutting flights to a number of destinations this winter or switching airports they fly from. Flights to La Rochelle are expected to be cut during the winter months and other French destinations are reportedly being considered
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