Practical Steps to Get Started in Foreign Property Investment

This article is the second part of our exploration of the benefits of diversifying into foreign markets. Part one, which you can read here, looked at the benefits of diversification for different types of investors. In this article we look at the practical steps you need to take to get the most from your investment, as well as things to consider in order to make the process as smooth as possible.

We’ll cover key aspects of buying a foreign property, including what to consider when you’re choosing your foreign ski property, the value of local knowledge - and how to acquire it! We’ll also offer a summary of things to look out for when it comes to legal implications, tax and finance.

You’ll find links to buyers guides, as well as useful articles to offer insight for every stage of your adventures in the foreign property market.

Essential things to consider when you’re looking for a foreign ski property

Consider how you will use your property

This is often the first step in any property purchase. If you are seeking a property that you intend to use a holiday home, with a view to gathering a healthy rental yield your decisions in terms of location, style of property and facilities are likely to be different than if you’re seeking a co-primary residence, or a place that will become your permanent mountain home.

Consider ease of access

How close are you to airports, rail and road links? Is it easy to get around once you’re in the town or resort? This is especially important if you’ll be using your property as a second home and rental property, or a base for remote or hybrid working.

Consider infrastructure and future investment

Understanding the level and type of investment planned for the area will help you understand how the resort may grow in the future, and how these investments may positively affect your property's value.

You’ll be able to find out about planned future investment by contacting the local town hall.

Consider the year round appeal of the resort or town you’re looking to invest in

If you’re looking for somewhere that will be a primary residence you’re more likely to want to invest in a location that has a permanent population, rather than a resort town. Likewise if you have embraced the co-primary concept (where a second home offers complete functionality for the whole family, rather than just being a holiday home) then being in a working town or village that offers a sense of community, alongside practical amenities is essential.

Holiday home hunters will benefit from exploring the dual seasonality of a resort. Many ski resorts offer a wide range of activities all year as well as hosting events such as music and arts festivals. To find out what’s available in the resort you’re considering, take a look at the resort web page - most offer a summary of winter and summer activities, as well as details of other events and initiatives.

The best way to understand how your chosen location functions all year, it’s wise to stay there during different seasons to help you assess how the resort will best meet your needs.

Local knowledge and how to acquire it

When buying property abroad, local knowledge can provide invaluable insights and advantages. Local knowledge gives you a deeper understanding of the real estate market in the area you're interested in. This includes knowledge of current property prices, market trends, and potential future developments that could impact property values. With this information, you can make more informed decisions and negotiate better deals. Without local knowledge, you might overpay or miss out on a great investment opportunity.

Each country has its own set of real estate laws, regulations, and customs. Local knowledge can help you navigate through the legal processes and potential pitfalls that might not be immediately apparent to foreigners. Being aware of local customs can also be crucial in establishing positive relationships with sellers, agents, and other stakeholders, making the buying process smoother and more successful. Local knowledge can guide you to the best neighbourhoods or regions that suit your preferences and investment goals. Factors like proximity to amenities, schools, public transport, safety, and local infrastructure can significantly impact the desirability and value of a property. Relying on local insights can help you identify hidden gems that might not be well-known to outsiders.

Having local knowledge when buying property abroad empowers you to make more informed decisions, avoid potential pitfalls, and identify the best investment opportunities, ultimately increasing the likelihood of a successful and satisfactory property purchase.

How to acquire local knowledge

This can take a little effort but it's an effort that will be richly rewarded. Start by conducting extensive research online. Look for reliable real estate websites, forums, and blogs specific to the country or region you're interested in. These platforms often provide information on market trends, property prices, legal requirements, and local buying tips. Connect with expat communities and local forums to ask questions and gain insights from those who have already been through the process.

Whenever possible, visit the area in person before making any buying decisions. Explore different neighbourhoods, talk to locals, and get a feel for the community. This first-hand experience will help you gauge the local culture, amenities, safety, and potential issues that might not be apparent from remote research. Engaging with locals and real estate professionals will give you valuable insights and contacts.

From a practical point of view, if the country you're interested in has a different language or culture consider taking language courses or cultural orientation classes. This will help you better understand and integrate into the local community, making it easier to access valuable information.

Legal considerations, property management and financial planning

It’s essential to be familiar with local laws and regulations. Some countries may have restrictions on foreigners owning land or properties in certain areas and these can appear quite complex.

Often these laws are designed to preserve the integrity of the town or resort, and ensure they aren’t reduced to “ghost towns” out of the main ski season.

Consult with a local expert in property law to navigate legal complexities and deepen your understanding of how these laws will impact your purchase and long term investment.

Financial planning

Set a budget and be clear about how you will finance the purchase. Consider all associated costs, such as property taxes, legal fees, insurance, and maintenance expenses. Be aware of currency exchange rates and how they can impact your budget.

Some countries such as France offer significant tax benefits for overseas investors. It’s important to have a clear picture of the tax implications of owning foreign property – a specialist tax advisor can help and you’ll find our buyers guides a useful resource.

Property management and maintenance

Unless you’re looking for a primary residence, property management and maintenance is essential. For co-primary residences a simple property maintenance service may suffice - this will ensure your property is cared for in your absence.

If you are seeking to offer your home for rental you’re likely to need a more comprehensive solution that offers guest services such as cleaning, and simple reception services, as well as comprehensive maintenance. Some properties offer these as part of the terms of purchase.

Should you diversify into foreign property markets?

If you’re prepared to invest a little time into researching your investment, then the benefits of choosing to diversify into foreign markets will pay off.

Aspects such as reduction of risk from currency and market fluctuation in your home country, as well as increased opportunity to capitalise on a range of market features mean that investment overseas can be a lucrative option for many types of investor.

SnowOnly can help you achieve your foreign property goals

Whether you're looking to add a global dimension to your portfolio, or take your first steps into property investment, SnowOnly can help. We're a global property portal with specialist ski property and resort knowledge. We have access to dozens of agents and private sellers so that you can see the best of the market without the pain of trawling individuals.

The process of buying a ski property abroad can be intricate, and specifics can vary greatly depending on the location. That's why here at SnowOnly we offer a free 'Ski Property Purchase Consultation'.

Our experts will provide personalised advice addressing your unique needs during this 30-minute conversation, offering insights into market trends, local regulations, and potential pitfalls of ski resort property acquisitions.

Click below to schedule your free consultation and embark on your ski resort property buying journey with SnowOnly today.

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