Foreign Mortgages. New Horizons?

Foreign Mortgages. New Horizons?

There has been a tremendous boom in overseas property ownership. Whether for personal use as a family, holiday or retirement property or as an investment property, the market shows no sign of slowing down.

In the excitement of making the decision to go ahead, it’s easy to overlook the importance of taking professional advice with regards to the legal situation.

The law in respect of property and mortgages abroad is very different from that in the UK. Local practices, customs and regulations are very different and vary from country to country. One of the most common mistakes made by people purchasing overseas property is to assume that everything will be similar to the UK and there can be nasty shocks in store when the reality of the very different legal system strikes them. Television programmes have highlighted problems in proving ownership, lack of planning permission or plans for three lane highways cutting virtually cutting through the garden.

It needn’t be like this. Expert advisers are in a position to guide buyers through the maze of foreign property purchase and to help them to get independent and specialized advice from professional people such as surveyors, architects and the all-important solicitors.

As far as financing the purchase, it is usual to think about either raising the money on existing UK property or alternatively to arrange a mortgage using the foreign property as security, via an overseas lender.

Assuming you own property in the UK and are buying your overseas property as a holiday home or investment, the easiest route to take would be to arrange a loan on the equity in your home. By releasing this equity you would be able to complete any deal without undue delay.

Alternatively, it may be possible to get an improved interest rate by raising a mortgage on the overseas property you plan to buy. There is an added advantage in this option, in that the legal title of the property would be checked by the lender, who would ensure that all other aspects of the purchase would be in order, such as registration in the buyer’s name, valuation and checking of any building certificates, regulations and planning permissions.

European interest rates are generally lower than those in the UK. Because of this, with Spanish property, most buyers are advised to take out a Euro mortgage, although technically you could choose all major currencies. If buying property in France or Italy then a Euro mortgage is required.

Euro mortgage repayments must be in euros. There will be some currency fluctuations and this should be taken into account when planning your monthly repayments.

Your adviser will be able to help you with the choice of which mortgage is for you. For instance, if you intend to rent out your Spanish property via a Spanish agent, any income will be in euros. Rental received can be paid into a Spanish bank account to help to fund the mortgage repayments, thus avoiding any fluctuation in currency when transferring money each month. Obviously in this case a Euro mortgage makes sense.

A sterling mortgage would avoid the fluctuating currency problem if the property is purely for personal use and there is no foreign income. However, the savings on interest rates still make a Euro mortgage an attractive proposition.

For help on overseas mortgages, we strongly advise you to take some guidance from the experts. This can be found by going on-line to find a broker, where you’ll find their knowledge of the whole foreign property market invaluable.