Being Smart About Buying Overseas Property: How To Do It

Buying Overseas PropertyIt’s a big step making the decision to buy property overseas, and working out how to finance your purchase can be an intimidating decision. We’ve written this article to help you learn what to consider and your options when looking to buy a property overseas.

What will we cover in this article?

Buying an overseas property is an exciting ordeal, so it’s important that you don’t let all the nooks and crannies of such an ordeal take away the excitement. We’ve put together a little checklist of things you need to consider beforehand to help you:

  • Importance of research
  • Get local help
  • Know your rights
  • Tax
  • The exchange rate

Alternatively, if you’re looking at selling an overseas property and transferring the money back to Canada, you can read our article here.

Importance of Research When You Buy Property Overseas

While the best research you will have is perhaps when your feet are firmly planted on the pavement slabs of where you want to buy, most times this isn’t always possible. Luckily, there is an abundance of property websites out there – (we’ve just put a few, so not to overwhelm!):

Research is also vital as it will help you understand the local laws you will have to abide by in the destination you are buying.

  • TIP: Consider creating a will in the country you are buying your overseas property in, so to ensure that those you wish to inherit your property and assets will be able to do so, as inheritance laws will differ from Canada.

Mortgages

Do your homework on mortgages: analyse and compare a range of different mortgages offered by various lending companies. DO NOT automatically settle for the mortgage offered to you by the seller.

Get local help

It’s a major benefit when you know of the professional real estate agents, lawyers and accountants in the destination you are looking to buy. Once you know them, contact them – it is their job to provide you with as much help and information they can. Make sure that the lawyer you talk to is qualified to practice both in Canada and overseas, and can offer you independent legal advice.

Don’t think you can do this by yourself; it’s impossible to know everything about buying property, especially in a foreign country!

  • TIP: If you’re buying property overseas that is not an English native speaking country, then get all official documents and contracts translated by a professional, independent translator – be wary in general of translators or interpreters recommended to you by the lawyers. They will generally cost you a fair bit of money! Also, bring along an independent interpreter to any meetings you may have set up.

Know your rights

Seeking legal advice is perhaps the most important part of buying a property overseas. Whether it be Europe, Asia, USA, UK – all countries differ in their legal regulations and ownership laws so it is vital that you’re clued up on it!

Hire an independent legal professional, or make sure that your lawyer is qualified for advice on overseas properties.

Tax

It is imperative to consider the tax implications of an overseas property well before you buy it. Talk to your accountant and seek advice about the tax implications you will have to bear.

You will have to understand the tax laws of New Zealand (http://www.ird.govt.nz) but also the tax laws of the country you are buying in. If you earn income from the house, it may be taxable in that country – so be sure to check!

The exchange rate

Once you have purchased the property, it’s time to start transferring the money for settlement. This transfer is incredibly reliant on a good exchange rate, otherwise, you could end up losing a lot of your hard-earned money in transition. There are several ways of transferring this money, but best to research up and make sure you get all the bang for your buck.

To compare the exchange rates of different money transfer providers and banks, you can use our comparison table here.

Case Study

Dan has a dual citizenship in Canada and New Zealand. Although Dan has lived in Canada his entire life, he wants to look at buying a property in Auckland. He looked at finding professional real estate agents, lawyers and accountants in both countries. This helped when he had contracts to sign, or he didn’t quite understand the laws in New Zealand. Dan made sure he know about all the tax implications on his overseas property. This meant he was comfortable and relaxed when he bought his apartment, knowing that he had all grey areas covered. His accountant also warned him of the importance of transferring his money for settlement. Therefore, Dan was aware of when and how best to transfer his money based on the current exchange rate offered by his bank.

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