For anyone buying a dream home overseas, a viewing trip is a crucial part of the purchase journey.
Many people discover the region they would like to live in whilst on holiday. But while you can check out an area and take a quick peek at a few properties while on your travels, a short trip somewhere is a very different experience to living there.
In order to truly get to know a place, it’s best to plan a trip for the sole purpose of exploring the area and browsing properties. This allows you to acclimatise to your chosen country, region or town in a way that you simply can’t when your focus is on unwinding, entertaining the family, or ticking sights and activities of your bucket list.
It’s best to go during the quiet season, as then you’ll have a better picture of what the place really looks like. It’s easy to put on a façade for the tourists, but what does the region offer during the rest of the year?
While there is no fixed process for a viewing trip there are, however, a few popular approaches.
Going on a viewing trip with an estate agent
Increasingly the most popular option, going on a viewing trip organised by a carefully selected estate agent has many benefits:
> They will listen to what you are looking for and use their expert knowledge to help you see the most suitable properties in the time that you have. Their priority is getting a sale, so they will want to make sure that they impress you with properties that meet your needs and that fall within the correct price range.
> They will show you the most comprehensive range of properties in an area – from new developments, to resale properties.
> An agent will know which developers are the best and which ones you should avoid – make sure you make the most of this knowledge and don’t be afraid to pick their brains at any point.
Going on a viewing trip with a developer
Organising a trip with a developer was all the rage back in the property boom of the mid-2000s. At the time, developers were selling so much property that they were more than happy to subsidise huge numbers of potential buyers to visit their developments, no matter whether or not these people were serious about purchasing. Despite this becoming less popular over the years, there are still a number of larger developers who offer low-priced viewing trips, say around £200/£300 for a two or three night stay, where your days are spent viewing various different properties and complexes.
On these trips, the majority of time will be taken up by the developer. They are investing time, energy and money in you and, should you choose not to buy through them, they don’t make a penny. Although you are under absolutely no obligation to buy with them – and should not allow yourself to be pressured – you should not just treat the trip as a free holiday.
The major disadvantage of going on a viewing trip with a developer is that they will only show you their own properties.
You will usually be given little or no time to explore the spectrum of properties and prices offered by other developers compared to those that an estate agent would be able to show you. For this reason, if you decide to take this type of trip, you need to be 100 percent sure that the style of property the developer has is exactly what you want and is within your budget.
A self-organised trip
If there are a range of properties and areas that you want to explore, you may decide to organise your own trip. The major advantage of this is that you will be able to take things at your own pace and won’t have to worry about sticking to the strict itinerary that the other options often involve.
The success of your self-organised trip will be based upon how much research and preparation you conduct before you go. Make sure you know which developments you would like to see and contact the developer beforehand – they may even arrange someone to come and pick you up, which means you can avoid the hassle of negotiating public transport or car hire.
Preparing for Viewing Trip
Preparation is essential ahead of a viewing trip – you’ll need to make sure the agent know exactly what you are looking for. Good agents will carefully consider your requirements and how you intend to use the property when suggesting properties that might interest you.
Make a list of the features your property “must have’s”, things which you wil not compromise on e.g. number of bedrooms, pool, distance to beach or resort. Then make a list of features that it would be nice to have, but not essential e.g. ocean view, private pool or private car parking. It is important to be realistic, especially about your budget, would a beachfront property really come within budget? Our property checklist should help you structure your thoughts on what your are looking for in your dream property. Download property checklist.
The agent once he has firm grasp of your requirements, ahead of you proceeding with the viewing trip, you will agree a schedule of the properties you will be viewin and have detailed information on them.
Making The Most Of Your Viewing Trip
You are on the ground in the destination for a limited period so it is important you take an organised approached to get the most out of the trip.
Quiz the agent about the area, what is it like in the off-season, best restaurants, best beaches, public transport availability, traffic noise, how are the neighbours, why hasn’t it been sold yet, what is included, what is the situation regarding licenses and deeds, what is the rental market like in the area, any new developments or projects in the region, what expat communities are there in the area etc.
Make sure you have complete clarity on all the costs of ownership, service charges, taxes, average rate of increase in costs etc. Your agent should be able to provide this information.
Similarly, to get the most out of the agent you need to be open and honest about the ideal property you want and what you can realistically afford.
Finally, take lots of pictures and notes for each property, so you can review them later and keep receipts as in some countries the costs of searching for a property can be considered a tax deductable.
We hope you have found our viewing trip guide useful. If you have more questions or need assistance planning a viewing trip, please do not hesitate in contacting the team at Overseas Property Forum on +44 (0)330 0575 990 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.