The Brexit deadline of 31st October is coming closer, and, with both sides refusing to move on key issues like the Northern Irish backstop, a no-deal is looking more and more likely. This week, we’re looking at how a no-deal Brexit could impact ski property buyers – how will you be able to purchase, and what should you be planning for?
A no-deal Brexit would, in theory, mean an instant reversion to ‘third-country’ rules, so British citizens would be treated as non-EU nationals from 31st October onwards. Even if no agreement is signed long-term, some form of implementation period could still take place
Would it still be possible to buy in a no-deal Brexit?
Fortunately, yes, you can still buy a ski property if there’s a no-deal Brexit. European Union law doesn’t cover the right to purchase or own a home, so the rules will be unchanged. In France, for example, you would be able to purchase exactly as you would now, often without any further paperwork. This is great news for anyone starting a purchase now – you don’t need to worry about a sudden change in your circumstances on 31st October.
However, some individual countries do implement laws themselves that mean non-EU citizens do need to do a bit more paperwork to be able to buy. In Austria, for example, where local regions set their own rules, most ski areas will ask you to get permission. This isn’t too difficult; it usually requires some form-filling, presentation of a valid passport, a declaration of usage and showing the authorities the drafted contract, land map and its Land Registry entry.
For anyone buying in Austria now, then, it is a good idea to get started early, and have your initial offer, or Kaufanbot, signed before 31st October. If that doesn’t fit your timescale, then speak to the authorities in advance so you’re aware of what you need to provide, and have it all to hand on the day of no-deal to be able to continue apace.
What if the pound drops when we’re making a purchase?
A weak pound is an undeniable risk of a no-deal Brexit. In early August, it dropped to ten-year lows against the euro. In the last month, an €800,000 property has changed value in pounds by over £40,000. A no-deal Brexit could see further drops – but, if the markets price it in, we could even see less of a drop than you might expect. In other words, no-one knows quite what will happen. When Boris Johnson became Prime Minister, the pound strengthened, rather than weakening.
This might mean that it seems impossible to know how much you’ll find yourself paying come October 31st and the following months. However, this is only partially this is only partially the case.
If you plan ahead with your currency specialist, you could lock in today’s exchange rate with a forward contract. This means that you be guaranteed the same rate for as much as a year, no matter whether the markets drop. You would simply need to agree the total sum of what you’re paying in advance, pay a reservation deposit – usually around 10% of the total purchase – and then transfer the rest as and when you want, without worrying about a no-deal Brexit.
Will access to healthcare continue if there’s a no-deal Brexit?
This is the perhaps the greyest area around Brexit. It is likely that both sides would want to agree to a reciprocal agreement, especially with some EU countries like France having a high number of expatriates in the UK who still have political influence back in their home country. However, it is so far largely considered to be part of the wider negotiations, and wouldn’t be able to stand alone.
Access would therefore depend on a country-by-country basis, but, for short-term travellers, like most skiers, it’ll generally just come under your travel insurance. If you’re spending large chunks of the year at your property – or even using a property near a ski resort as your permanent base – then you’ll usually have to pay yourself into the national health insurance, such as the PUMA scheme in France. As soon as you gain residency, you’ll normally have access to the health system, too.
To find out more about how to buy a property after Brexit, get your copy of our Brexit Guides for Property Buyers.