Mar 23, 2020 / BUYING PROCESS

How to continue your property hunt during coronavirus

Coronavirus has much of Europe on lockdown, but there are still steps you can take to ensure your property hunt doesn’t come to a halt.

Covid-19 or coronavirus has left much of Europe on lockdown, and travel from outside the Schengen area is currently heavily restricted. It is disappointing for anyone with travel plans in the near future, but with strict measures, we’re optimistic that the crisis will be over as soon as possible. And let’s all be ready to buy when it is!

Here’s how you can continue your property hunt until that moment comes.

Draw up your list and start browsing properties

Four-bedroom villa in Chatel

Many people plunge straight into the house-hunt without having formulated a clear idea of what they’re actually looking for. Make the most of the lull and use that time to properly draw up your list of criteria. What are your musts, your must-nots and your nice-to-haves?

If you’re buying with a partner or family, draw up your lists individually and then compare afterwards. This helps ensure everyone really is on the same page.

As we have said previously, it can help to build your criteria from your lifestyle, thinking how you’d use the property and then what you’d need to be able to do this in terms of features, rather than starting with wanting X, Y or Z feature.

Then, start browsing properties on SnowOnly. Draw up your shortlist of properties within your budget range and preferred areas, but have a look, too, at areas that you might not have considered. You may find yourself getting better value away from some of the bigger names.

Inform yourself on the local purchase process

Five-bedroom apartment in Bolzano

Buying abroad does sometimes mean you’re buying in quite a different system – putting aside any existing differences in language. So, make sure that you know how the system works, what steps to follow and whom to involve. For example, in much of Europe, you’ll find the notary plays a much more prominent role, including in drawing up, witnessing and archiving any documents.

Download your free country buying guides to give yourself a comprehensive overview of what you can expect when you buy a ski home abroad.

Start speaking to estate agents and lawyers

Start your conversations with estate agents today – they’ll be less busy than in usual times with viewings, and the more you can communicate to them about what you’re looking for, the better they will be able to help you with your search.

Likewise, if you’re going to engage the services of a solicitor, now is the time to start requesting quotes and finding out how they can help you. One of the major aspects of buying a property in much of Europe is inheritance. If you’re coming from a different system, having enforced portions for particular people to inherit, or a set order, can seem restrictive – but a good solicitor can explore your options for structuring the purchase with you.

This step is all about making sure you’ve already made the decisions on the ‘hows’ of your purchase so, when the situation settles down and you go on viewings, you’re able to offer when you find the right place.

Ring-fence your budget from future losses

Coronavirus has been a salutary warning to many people who took the risk of sending their money overseas without any planning other than sending it on the day with whatever that exchange rate happened to be.

Sudden drops like what we’ve seen can significantly reduce your purchasing power. They can also increase it, but it’s entirely a game of chance – so it’s a huge gamble to take with your savings. No business would send their money unprotected and there’s no reason for individuals not to do likewise. Find out in the Property Buyer’s Guide to Currency about how you can stop yourself from losing money in these volatile times.

Five-bedroom chalet in Villars

Get any necessary local finance or registration numbers

Many people are surprised at how much they can do from overseas. For example, if you need an Italian ‘codice fiscale’ (fiscal code) or a Spanish ‘numero de identificación de extranjero’ (foreigner identification number), you can actually get them from your local consulate or embassy.

And if you’ve started your purchase…

Consider how you can continue it from back home. For example, if you’re happy granting Power of Attorney to a solicitor for signing or witnessing certain acts, you can still keep your purchase on track.