The Coronavirus pandemic has created a new normal for the real estate industry, with each part of the buying journey adapting to the situation.
Real Estate agents now provide detailed floor plans, virtual video tours and make extensive use of video calls to serve their clients. Similarly, lawyers and government departments are more accepting of eSigned documents. So property buyers have moved online for a significant proportion of the buying process, in some cases entirely online – the real estate industry has seen a considerable increase in ‘not visited’ purchases.
With the easing of restrictions in many countries, it has become possible to buy a property overseas despite the Covid-19 restrictions remaining in place. Just keep in mind that you will need to self-isolate on your return to the UK.
Travelling to your destination country in most cases is legally OK, but be aware and comply with Foreign Office guidance. If you are already in the destination country, simply follow the local rules. Unless you are in a hurry, there is no need to rush back home, but you will be required to self-isolate. Also, the lockdowns are designed to stop the spread of Covid-19, they do not prevent buyers from moving into their new overseas property, providing that there are no occupants, with all the keys etc. being passed on remotely.
Financial service providers such as foreign exchange specialists and mortgage brokers are operating as normal, and their in-depth experience helping clients buy property overseas will ensure things run smoothly, despite Covid-19 restrictions.
What do I need to know?
Popular destinations for Britons – Spain, France and Italy were some of the worst affected, negatively impacted their second housing markets. However, this means there is more scope to negotiate with sellers. Also, with the Brexit transition period ending 31 December 2020, this could be an ideal opportunity to get residency in an EU country, keeping all your EU rights intact.
While it has not been a complete return to normal, countries have put in place guidelines that have brought about some degree of normality to the international real estate sector. However, buyers need to take additional care during the purchase process.
As mentioned in a previous post, it is advisable to get expert, independent help for your overseas property purchase, with the three essential services being Agent, Lawyer and Currency Transfer Expert.
An experienced independent lawyer working solely in your interests will ensure there are no horrible surprises and reduce the risk of delays. Due to Covid-19, many buyers have given lawyers power of attorney, allowing them to act on their behalf when finalising the overseas property purchase.
Thanks to lockdown, you will now have to do more research online. Luckily, agents are now better set up to serve their clients online. Don’t be afraid to ask detailed questions. Also, investing time in research will save you a lot of time later, visiting properties that don’t meet your requirements.
At the same time, you start speaking to Agents and Lawyer, you should be opening an account with a Currency Expert. Covid-19 and Brexit have created a perfect storm of increased currency market volatility. They’ll help you work out your budget range, reduce your exposure to currency volatility, get the maximum value from your currency transfer and ensure your payment arrives in the right account on time.
The team at Overseas Property Forum can put you in touch with the right people, no matter where you are in the buying process. Call us +44 (0)330 0575 990.