Buying Property Abroad: What Does it Take?

Buying a house or an apartment at home is quite a process already - so becoming the proud owner of a property abroad must be even more difficult. The trick to either owning property in another country or becoming an expat is to do your homework first.

Since you don’t know the country abroad as you know your home country, it’s way too easy to either be maliciously tricked into something or simply misunderstand the conditions - and when we’re talking about a large amount of money, it’s better to be safe than sorry.


Use this guide to understand the property market in the country you’re considering as well as what you need to do to make sure you’re fully up to date before you sign any papers. That way, you can enjoy your new house or apartment as soon as possible, and with a bit more confidence.

Why buy property abroad?

If you haven’t considered purchasing land, a house or a property in a foreign country, you might be wondering why so many people are starting to do it. First of all, it tends to be a lot cheaper than at home. So much so that you might not even need financing for it - just use your savings and pay up straight away.

Secondly, you’ll be able to use the property as an investment or as a place to live if you’d like to become an expat. Your life will be significantly more affordable, that’s for certain, and you’ll no longer have to pay down on your mortgage or rent every month if you don’t have a place in your home country as well.

Many people choose to buy property abroad to increase their income, by the way, by renting it out to holiday-goers. If you paid for the property without having to take up a loan, the money you make of it will provide you with a significantly higher income over the years.

Just make sure that you find someone who can take care of the property for you while you’re away, though, if you’d like to rent it out to others. This can actually be a bit tricky; some countries don’t really have a professional company that will manage the property for you so you’ll need to rely on word of mouth.

Get in touch with the local expat community in your country of choice or just ask around when you’re there. They should be able to set you up with someone reliable who’d like to make a bit extra by looking after your place.

First: Which country are you considering?

Now that you understand the benefits of investing in properties abroad, it’s time to take a closer look at how you should research the markets once you’ve made up your mind.

Some markets abroad are a bit hotter than others. Even though you may already have a country or two in mind, it’s a good idea to figure out which countries that may be a better investment than others.

Several countries in Europe, for example, are quite decent from an investors point-of-view. Spain, Portugal, and France are all among the top three countries to buy property in so if you’ve already been considering one of these countries, you can rest assured that it’s a safe bet.

Remember that even though the country boasts a great real estate market, there will be certain areas that are way better to invest in than others. Try to either ask people you know who live in the area or give a real estate agent in the country a call.

They should be able to steer you away from the dodgiest neighborhoods at least so that you don’t invest in an area that is generally unpopular among the locals.

If you’d like to own property somewhere else than in Europe, you might want to consider Indonesia for its tropical climate and affordable prices. It’s really popular for expats as well so have a look at and browse the pages for inspiration.

#1 Research the laws and regulations

Now that you’re up to date on the real estate market in the country you have your eyes on, it’s time to get down to business. One of the biggest problems for foreigners getting into property markets abroad is that they simply don’t understand their laws and regulations.

First of all, you might not be allowed to own property there, in the first place. It’s a good idea to figure this out sooner rather than later so that you save yourself the trouble of figuring it out when you’ve already done all the preparations.

Secondly, you need to think about whether or not you’d like to rent it out. Even though you figure out that you are indeed allowed to buy property there, you might still not be allowed to rent it out - and that would be quite frustrating to learn when you’ve already bought it.

The reason for this is that a large number of foreign investors, particularly in countries such as Spain, are squeezing out the local hotels and hostels by renting out the apartments or houses they bought. It’s not good for the local economy, so make sure that you know the country before you try to rent it out to anyone.


You might be able to read up on all of this online but it’s a good idea to have a chat with a lawyer who understands the laws in both countries - as well as a real estate agent. While you probably wouldn’t go to these lengths when buying property at home, you need to safeguard yourself as you simply don’t understand the market as well.

Make sure that the lawyer is fluent in both languages and has a good understanding of how it is for foreigners to buy property there. It could save you from making a major hiccup with your money so get this one over with right away.

#2 Getting financing for your new property

If you have found a real estate agent you can rely on as well as a lawyer that’s knowledgeable competent, it’s time to find a place you’d like to buy. This both will and should take quite some time in terms of researching and considering - so make sure that you don’t rush into anything before you’ve done your homework.

Finding a place that you love and would like to own doesn’t mean that you’ve come to the end of the road, though. It’s actually just the beginning. Most foreign investors encounter a problem when they need to find financing for their property as most banks at home don’t really offer financing for properties abroad. Have a read at to learn more about your options.

Some of them do offer this, though, so do a bit of research online first and have a long chat with your bank. They might be able to come up with a solution for you. The best would, of course, be if you were able to just pay everything down at once. This isn’t always an option, so see if you’re able to buy it with the equity of the property you own in your home country.

That way, you can buy the place without having to pay for everything at once - and when you’re ready to move abroad for good, you simply sell your property at home to pay off the loan you have on the one you’re buying now.

This means that you’ll become a true expat, though, and it might be a good idea to wait with this until you’re either ready to move abroad with your family or just ready to retire.

#3 Get all documents translated

The property of your dreams have been found, you’ve researched and talked to everyone that’s relevant, and you’ve got financing for the place. Now it’s time to sign those papers. Don’t put your name on anything before you know that you’re able to understand everything it says on those documents, though, even if you think that you’re slightly fluent in the language.

Get them translated right away, and make sure that you have someone nearby who understands both languages and can guide you through the process. It’s an important point, and the best way to safeguard yourself against those who would like to take advantage of naive foreigners.

Buying property abroad can be quite a challenge as the laws and regulations can be completely different from those we have at home. That’s why you absolutely need to take your time, research the location, and get a network of contacts that can help you throughout the purchase process.

Once you have it, you’ll hopefully think that purchasing it was a breeze - but you don’t want to look back at it and think it was a nightmare. Take the precautions even though it seems a bit like a hassle, and you’ll make your dream about owning property abroad a dream soon enough.

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