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Travel & living abroad

Buying a property abroad

We strongly recommend that prospective purchasers of overseas property seek independent legal and financial advice at all stages of their purchase.

The following information is suggested only as general advice which you may wish to take into account when purchasing property overseas. Before making a decision you should fully research and understand all aspects of the purchase before committing to buy.

Buy with CARE

Go into it with Caution, make sure you seek Advice - local laws can be complex and unclear, do your own Research then Evaluate on the basis of that before you proceed.

Proceed with Caution

  • Buying a property overseas is a major decision and make sure you look at a wide range of information and advice before you buy. You should proceed with caution.

Seek independent legal Advice

  • Appoint a lawyer who is experienced in property law, who only represents you and is fully independent of anyone else involved in the transaction e.g. the estate agent, vendor and developer. 
  • Do not sign any papers or hand over any money until you have taken independent legal advice.

Do your Research

It is important to thoroughly research the property laws in the country you are considering purchasing in, as well as companies you might use (developers, estate agents and lawyers).
  • Search through local papers and local property forums
  • Read independent purchasing guides
  • Compare property prices
  • Visit your location
  • Do your numbers
  • Use a chartered surveyor – with around 100,000 qualified members in 140 countries the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) provides qualified and experienced professionals who can offer independent and impartial advice
  • Look out for companies who are registered with the Association of International Property Professionals (AIPP)

Search Embassy and High Commission websites.

You can find further advice on living in a country on our websites. Below are links to information on some of the most popular destinations for Britons living abroad.

Australia
Canada
Cyprus
France
Germany
Ireland
New Zealand
Bulgaria
Turkey
Spain
USA

Evaluate

  • Once you have all the information and completed all your searches; when you have taken independent legal advice and when you are confident that you know all there is to know about the property laws in the country you are planning to buy property, only then should you consider proceeding.

Where to go for advice if things go wrong

If you run into difficulties we advise you to seek independent legal advice.  Property disputes are private legal matters, which can only be resolved by the parties involved via the courts of the country concerned, a process in which the British Government cannot interfere.
If you purchased the property through a firm in the UK and think there was any negligence on their part, it may be open to you to complain to Which? (The UK Consumers’ Association) or to Consumer Direct or the Office of Fair Trading.

European Consumer Centres Network

If the property is in the EU you may wish to contact the European Consumer Centres Network. This network of consumer advice centres provide information and advice to help consumers with cross-border disputes.

Fraud help lines

If you consider yourself to be a victim of fraud then Action Fraud is the UK’s national fraud reporting centre. They provide a central point of contact for information about fraud. The service is run by the National Fraud Authority – the government agency that helps to co-ordinate the fight against fraud in the UK. Their online fraud reporting service is available 24 hours a day, enabling anyone to report a fraud and find help and support. They also provide help and advice over the phone through the Action Fraud contact centre - 0300 123 2040.

Association of International Property Professionals

If the company, or legal advisor, you have worked with is a member of AIPP and you are unhappy with the services provided, you may wish to write to the AIPP

Disclaimer:

The FCO makes no representation as to the quality or accuracy of the information which is available at the web addresses listed nor do we endorse them. We are not involved in the production or sale of the company’s products nor do we monitor their quality.