Very rarely do you buy a house without seeing it first. Obviously with a property abroad this is going to take a lot more effort than a drive across town. Either way, it’s something completely worth doing as you can only tell so much about a house or a location from photos on the internet. A trip to where you are considering buying is the only way to help you know for sure if it is the right place for you.
Explore the locality whilst you're there
Of course you’re not just visiting a property though, you’ll be able to get a feel for the area as well. When you go out there, take your time to get a feel for place you might be moving to.
- Visit the property and surrounding area during different times of the day, look out for local noisy spots; bars, schools, restaurants and such. If you’re able to, speaking with the locals whilst you’re there will help you get a feel for the place and your new prospective neighbours.
- View a manageable number of properties per day - the temptation is to see as many as possible and quickly as you can, but this may make recalling the subtle details of each property difficult.
- Consider what the property might be like in the winter months; houses tend to look a lot better when the sun is shining! Have a thorough walk around the property and get an idea of the current state of the building – your note book will come in handy here.
- If there is work to be done, is it realistic with your ability / budget?
- Speak with your property agent and ask questions about the likely running costs for the property, such as utilities, maintenance fees and extras like your internet service – if the latter is important to you make sure to check on the general connectivity in the area before deciding to make an offer.
- Use the local transport system – if you will have your own car when you move abroad, you might consider this for when friends or family come to visit.
- Try also speaking to some of the locals about the area and see what the British expat community is like in that area as they will be able to give you invaluable information.
Bring your phrasebook
Having a translator on hand is advisable when the time comes for more formal visits and the signing of papers, but a simple viewing might not justify that cost. If you can’t speak the language, get together some useful phrases and questions so that you can interact with the person showing you around. It might not get you too far, but the more information you can get yourself the better.
A trip doesn’t mean commitment
While the trip you’ve made to see the property might have involved a lot of effort, don’t feel like you have to justify that by making a decision there and then. Even if you fall in love with the place, be wary. You wouldn’t say yes on the spot in the UK and the same applies here.
Finding a place that you want is just the beginning. What it’ll do is help you focus your research more effectively which means it will be easier to know if you’re making the right choice. Also, under no circumstances should you sign for a property without a translator. Don’t get caught out.