An Aussie Guide For Buying Real Estate Properties Overseas

May 27, 2022
Buying Real Estate Properties Overseas

There’s certainly no shortage of people who want to own real estate properties abroad. Whether it be a hideout, commercial investment, or maybe you’re just seeking a fresh start elsewhere.

Whatever the case, buying property is often an excellent investment. However, it’s important to note that buying properties overseas comes with its formalities, causing the process to be more hassle than usual.

As an Australian resident, it’s easy to purchase property locally. But if you’re buying overseas, you should consider other details before purchasing a property. Inform yourself since the laws are different when you’re buying property abroad.

That said, here’s an Aussie guide for buying real estate overseas. 

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How To Find A Property  

Before everything else, if you’re buying a property, you have to go house hunting. But since you cannot visit the property up close and personal, the best place to start is by checking online on the various portals for properties that may pique your interest.

Nowadays, almost every real estate agent locally and internationally advertises their listings online. Also, you could consult with local agents like Mitcham real estate agents or others who can advise you on where to look for properties, and if they have any leads, they can advise you further. 

How To Get A Mortgage  

Typically, you may not be able to get a loan for overseas property in Australia because local banks can’t use the overseas property as collateral. Therefore, you have to liaise with overseas lenders.

It is where you’d need to contact the relevant real estate agent in the desired country so that they can help you with these processes. Foreign mortgage requirements differ from country to country.

Some countries require higher initial deposits as opposed to others. However, the higher the deposit you can offer above the standard requirement, the better. 

Independent Advice  

Buying Real Estate Properties Overseas
Real estate agent and customers shaking hands together celebrating finished contract after about home insurance and investment loan, handshake and successful deal.

Now, since there are a lot of formalities that could be involved in buying property overseas, you need to seek the advice of an independent legal advisor. There are certain things you need to check before signing a contract that requires expert legal evaluation.

You need to follow and observe some legal procedures when buying a property – both locally and in an overseas country. Different countries and regions have different legal rules regarding foreigners acquiring property. Plus, various regions also have sets of policies in general.  

For example, you could notice that most English-speaking countries such as the USA, Canada, Australia, and Britain follow common law. If you buy a house in these places, you will have the title of ownership, among other pertinent documents. Whereas most countries in Latin America mostly follow civil law in which they use horizontal property regimes.   

The other type of independent advice you need relates to taxes. Your local attorney may be able to help you with this, too. If there are tax law experts, they can help you make sure that your tax records are in order.  

Additionally, there are probably many other considerations that will vary on a case-by-case basis that you need to know. All the more reason why you need independent advisors before buying a property overseas. 

Exchange Rates  

Buying Real Estate Properties Overseas

Exchange rates may fly over some people’s heads. But they matter when it comes to international transactions. A fluctuation in the exchange rate may cause you to pay more or less than you expected in real terms.

So, before you consider buying a house elsewhere, compare the exchange rates. Exchange rates are vital because if you get a mortgage in a foreign country, fluctuations may affect your mortgage payments.

The extent to which they’re affected depends on the exchange rate variations. You can’t control exchange rates. You have to work with what’s there.  

Alternatively, there are some safety nets that you can opt for, such as a forward contract. It allows you to use a fixed exchange rate for international transfers for a sustained period regardless of fluctuations.

It helps you to secure the property at a favourable exchange rate. Another option is a market order which is slightly different in that you get to convert your money only when a particular exchange rate is reached. The broker does this all for you. 

Costs  

It should be no surprise that buying a property overseas comes with costs. There are many costs you ought to consider that may be involved.

Some of them are mortgage fees, chartered surveyor fees, bank transfer fees, shipping costs, service fees, income taxes, translation fees, and consultancy fees, among many other probable costs.

Now, these will differ on a case-by-case basis. But the ones mentioned above are the costs you can expect to incur when buying real estate overseas.   

For instance, with property or income taxes, you need a tax expert in an overseas country to help you get your finances right. The reason is that you will probably pay taxes in that local currency.

So, it’s worth getting some advice to handle the tax aspect of acquiring and owning a house there. Also, be careful when making international transfers and look for brokers with better international transfer fees than local banks. 

Language Barriers  

Buying Real Estate Properties Overseas

Every country has a local language. In Australia, English is the home language. While there are many areas wherein English is the primary or secondary language, others don’t converse at all.

For example, if you’re buying property in a French-speaking area, language becomes an impediment. All the contracts you’re going to sign typically will be in the foreign countries’ native language.   

Bear in mind that there will be a lot of back-and-forth communication between all parties until the transfer is complete.

Therefore, for the most part, if you’re going to be buying a property overseas, you may have to hire a translator. It will also help if you look for independent advisors and real estate agents who know how to converse in English.  

Conclusion 

This article is not exhaustive by any stretch. You have to approach buying real estate from overseas on a case-by-case basis.

So, you may need to consult with legal and tax professionals locally and overseas to ensure that your acquisition goes through smoothly. Also, work with trusted real estate agents in the process both locally and abroad.

Remember, always be mindful of legal compliance issues whenever you want to do something like this. It’s easier said than done. But with help, it’s possible.

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