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A useful video for those buying property in Spain

February 25, 2013 – 12:00 pm

If you’ve ever considered buying a property here in Spain (or anywhere else abroad), or perhaps you’re in the process now, the FCO (UK Government’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office), in association with property media expert BuyAssociation, has produced an excellent video which covers all the key aspects.

As with many such guides, it doesn’t offer anything new or surprising, but compiles sensible advice in a well-presented, easily-digestible format, including interviews with real-life foreign property owners who mention the importance of such factors as having shops nearby – the dream of living in an isolated farmhouse up a mountain is very romantic, but what about buying a loaf of bread? A smallholding is great, with your own olive and almond trees, but what about the time and cost – and knowhow – of maintaining it? The video is aimed as much at second-home owners as those who want to relocate permanently.

Topics covered include initial research (magazines and online forums on your chosen area; expat organisations in the country), local laws and taxes, budgeting, exchange rates (key for pound/euro conversions), healthcare and insurance, learning the language and culture, worst-case scenario and contingency plans to deal with it – illness, mobility problems, financial disaster, fall in value of your pension. All much more accessible when explained by “talking heads”, rather than in black and white on paper or screen.

Of course, whether you’re buying to let the property, or to live there yourself, the key is always location. If it’s to rent, find out where is a popular destination, but with a shortage of properties available to let. If you’re buying to relocate, have you found out what it’s like in deepest, darkest winter?

In the excitement of looking at beautiful houses in pretty, historic villages, rustic farmhouses on hilltops, or brand-new flats in seaside developments, all with a backdrop of cloudless blue sky, it’s easy to get carried away – sometimes you can find yourself making a spur-of-the-moment decision you later regret. I love the quote from a lawyer: “Many of my clients leave their common sense at the airport, and pick it up with their luggage when they come back.”

As one of the people in the video says, buying a second home is supposed to be a happy experience, and for the majority of people it is. Make sure you’re fully prepared by doing the research, keeping your wits about you, and asking the experts for guidance where neccessary, and you should be fine.

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