3 Tips on Buying Property Abroad

With extremely competitive prices the property market is looking more positive these days. Spain has always been a popular destination, since the fifties and the evolution of package holidays. Today it remains so. Prices are among the lowest they have ever been, which means property there appeals to investors as well as pensioners looking for an easier way of life: Without a doubt, living costs are comparatively low in comparison to places like France, England and Germany. If you are considering buying property abroad here are 5 tips to help you get started.

Negotiate Price – It’s a Buyers Market

With the property market so competitive it is important to remember that you are in the negotiating position. Spain, in particular, has a property market almost heaving with repossessions and new property. Owners appreciate this makes it competitive and most are willing to negotiate. Make the most of your powerful buying position. Right now it is most definitely a buyers market.

Moving Costs – Be Selective

Relocating abroad can be expensive, without a doubt. Moving furniture and personal possessions can add substantially to costs. Some properties will have furniture and it might be possible to negotiate with the owners to purchase it, either included in the price or for a nominal amount. While you might love that sofa you’ve had for years it’s a good idea to leave anything that does not have any real sentimental value behind. Be selective and assess moving costs when purchasing your property. If you do not, you might find yourself going over budget and adding stress to an already stressful situation – Ask anyone who has moved home and they will tell you, it is one of the most stressful things you can do. Moving to another country even more so. Keep an eye on costs and you will avoid getting into hot water.

Choose your Region Wisely

Every European country is the same, the price you pay will vary depending on the region you buy in. Cities tend to be the highest prices, although certain areas will be less than others of course. Check out the demographics. Compare regions and ensure they have the conveniences you need. For example, if family will be visiting often or visa versa, how far away is the airport? If you will need to work, what is the employment situation locally? While some regions are cheaper than others for property, often the employment situation is not particularly good – Hence low priced property usually reflects local economy which includes wages and job availability.

Moving abroad can be an exciting venture. However, it can also be somewhat stressful even for the most organised of people. Unquestionably, think about what your priorities are now as well as in the future. Do not “jump in” with regards to making a buying decision. Do your homework and do the maths first. That quaint property up in the mountains might seem idyllic but it might turn out to be the house from hell!

Buy your Dream Home at a Reasonable Price

In order to buy a dream home at a reasonable price; prospective buyers should always be guided by some real estate tips. Here are some guidelines on how to buy a home.
Buying a home is one of the biggest financial and life decisions people make. Banks and credit institutions may be ready to offer mortgage loans and the benefits of home equity loans and mortgage refinancing may be attractive, but if the essential processes for home acquisition are not known and followed, one may end up not buying a good house, or buy a bad home at a higher price.
Before going in for a mortgage therefore; prospective home buyers should go through the following essential processes in order to make the best buy, avoid mortgage problems and bad property investments.
Knowing Mortgage Finance Capability
Banks and other financial institutions may be ready to provide low interest mortgage loans. But before one decides to access such facilities for buying a house, it is important to know one’s credit capabilities. A prospective house buyer can contact a mortgage lender to request pre-approval; a certificate indicating how much one can afford to borrow. Real estate agents and experts estimate that prospective homeowners are usually capable of paying for property that may be valued at 250 percent of their annual income.
The first step in the home buying process is to find out how much one can afford in terms of mortgage. When one’s credit score indicates a positive finance capability, then one can go ahead with the purchasing process; one needs to know if they are financially ready for a mortgage.
Good Mortgage Market Information
Having a good knowledge of existing market conditions, allows one to make a good decision on when to go in for mortgage. You should know whether you are in a buyer’s market; a situation where there is low housing demand and high housing supply, or in a seller’s market; where there is high demand for houses and low supply
A period of high supply and low housing demand, may offer prospective owners the opportunity to negotiate for a good price, but buying during a ‘buyer’s market’ period may have its own downsides. Real estate agents and experts should, therefore, be contacted for guidance, and for mortgage market information.
Deciding on an Ideal Type of Home
The following guidelines and questions are essential for decision making:
Write down what you need in a house
Where you want to live and in what neighbourhood
Do you want a new home or a resale
How many bedrooms are needed and what other facilities are required in a house
Single family home, a condominium, or a townhouse?
Touring Listed Homes
The prospective homeowner needs to tour as many listed homes as possible, before deciding which house to buy. It is recommended that while touring listed homes, notes should be taken on what one likes and dislikes about each house. The notes should include the visible conditions of interior and exterior decorations, lot size, state of the house, roofing, plumbing, heating system, among others. After the tours, the notes should then serve as a guide for choosing the best home with the ideal conditions.
Mortgage Contract and Payment
Before entering into any contract, it is crucial to seek professional legal advice. It is also important to get expert opinions from real estate agents. The listed price of a house should not be a barrier to useful negotiations. Good negotiations are helpful for getting a good real estate deal.
Does a Buyer Pay a Real Estate Agent ?

If you are using an estate agent to help you purchase a home, you typically pay them nothing. Normally the seller’s real estate agent pays the buyer’s agent. In some situations though, the buyer pays the Realtor or real estate agent directly.

Realtor v Agent
For a real estate buyer, using a real estate agent is typically a good value, as the buyer receives services yet pays nothing. It is the fiduciary duty of a real estate licensee to serve the best interest of his client. Not all real estate licensees are Realtors. A Realtor is a member of the National Association of Realtors, which is an organization for real estate professionals. A real estate sales agent or broker who is a Realtor agrees to follow a higher code of ethics and submit to the regulations and standards set by NAR.

Dual Agent
If the Realtor you are working with is the listing agent in the property, you may be in a dual agency. This requires the written agreement of the buyer and seller. When taking part in a dual agency, the agent must work in the best interests of both the buyer and seller, without giving either preference. If the real estate agent does not consider you his client and the seller is his client, the agent will be working in the best interest of the seller, not you

Traditional Listing
In a traditional real estate listing, the seller hires a real estate agent to list his property and agrees to pay the listing agent a percentage of the sale price for bringing a qualified buyer. The listing agent then offers a percentage of the commission to an agent bringing a buyer. This is how the Multiple Listing Service originated. It serves as a way to compensate competitive brokers for bringing buyers. Therefore, in this type of arrangement, the buyer pays nothing to a Realtor, before or after buying a home

Broker’s Buyer’s Agreement
When a buyer signs a broker’s buyer agreement, she is agreeing to work exclusively with a real estate broker to find property. Typically, this type of agreement allows the agent’s fees to come from the seller’s agent. But if the seller is not offering compensation to the buyer’s agent, such as in a for-sale-by-owner, the buyer agrees to pay the agent’s or Realtor’s fees. Typically, the buyer pays these at the close of escrow

It is unusual to pay the Realtor prior to purchasing a house. Before agreeing to make any up-front payment, review the written contract you have with the agent. If you suspect the Realtor is attempting to take advantage of you, discuss the matter with your local Realtor Association and/or state’s real estate department.

Staging a House to Sell

The phrase “staging a house” is a new one that is being tossed around all the time now in real estate circles. But the fact is, people have been doing this for a long time. We all want our house to look the best when we go to sell it, so that we have someone interested enough to buy it and pay top dollar for it. If your house has been sitting on the market without generating any interest, try some of these ideas.

Leave your ego out of it: If it’s not selling, changes need to be made. You may think the ten-foot wall of knives on magnet strips in the kitchen proclaim you as a great chef and collector, but someone else may think it looks like a butcher or a serial killer lives there; Get rid of it. A decorating idea that was great for you may not be great for everyone else. Remember, you don’t want to live there anymore, you want someone else to want to live there.

Get an honest opinion and fresh eyes: Find someone, whether a realtor, a friend who is not afraid to tell it like it is, or your mother-in-law, and have them go through your house. If you look at everything in there every day, you may not see something someone else does, like the clutter in the office, or the scratches on the laundry room door.

Clean! You don’t want prospective home buyers saying “What’s that smell?” when they walk through your house. Clean it from top to bottom, or have a cleaning service come in and do it for you. Dust everything, including those hard to reach light fixtures, scour the bathtub, make the toilets shine, sweep up all the dog hair and dust bunnies, and remove stains from the carpets. Then once you think you’ve done a good job, go back to those fresh eyes and honest opinions and have them point out what you missed.

First impressions count: From the exterior, make sure there are not dead flowers in the flower pots, or an overgrown lawn. This will only attract buyers who are looking to lowball and pick up a cheap property. The first impression extends to inside the front door: What is the first thing they will see when they open the door? Make it something pleasing, such as a clean side table with a vase of fresh flowers; remember no bad smells!

De-clutter the house. Remove photos, knickknacks, collectibles, toys, etc. Make bookshelves only half full with books, and place a potted plant or decorative box or the like in the open spaces. This also extends to closets: If you have 15 bath towels crammed in the linen closet, put ten of them in storage. You want your closets to look spacious; You should be able to see a little of the back wall in the closet.

Think neutrals: Yes, you may have to paint. Get rid of the 80s mauve and blue colour scheme in the bedroom, and the 90s hunter green colour in the dining room. Make your house a fresh palette of taupe and creams, which will give the house a more serene and restful look.

Don’t advertise your personality: Take the giant zodiac star chart off the wall; not everyone believes in astrology. Put away the photo of you shaking hands with the mayor; Not everyone thinks he is a great guy. If people don’t feel the same way as you, it will turn them off to the house. You want a buyer to be able to picture themselves in your house and not feel like they are intruders, or in a house that is not speaking to them. Make your house as blank a canvas as you can and let them imagine what they will.

Keep pets out: Have a friend keep any pets; Not just dogs and cats, but gerbils, birds, even fish (again, remember to watch out for smells). Once the pets are gone, get rid of the food bowls, litter boxes, and so forth.

Let the light in: Open the curtains, turn on the lights, put a fire in the fireplace; Make it feel comfortable and bright.

Open walking spaces: People don’t want to buy a home that is small and crowded. When you declutter, don’t forget about furniture. Take out bigger pieces and extra sideboards etc., that aren’t really needed. You don’t want anyone to have to jockey their way around the house during a showing or bump their shins on your magazine stand.

When you think you are all done, bring those honest opinions back in and let them tell you what they really think, and then follow through. You want the best opportunity to sell that house, and sell it for what it’s worth.

Pricing a Home to Sell

One of the most important aspects of selling your home is the price. In most selling situations, if your home is priced right it will sell. The difficult task is finding the “right” price.

If you price your home greater than the average sales price for your area, there is an increased risk that the home will not sell. This is an issue that does exist in the market at all times. Do not fall into the common trap of over-valuing your home, based on the feeling that you have more upgrades then a comparative listing in your neighbourhood. Unfortunately, the prospects that consider buying your home do not have the same sentimental value for certain items, they have a greater appreciation for their budget.

Create Visibility
A home has virtually no chance of selling if nobody knows it’s available. The great benefit of a good Realtor is that they will list the home in certain databases, which allow other real estate agents to see the property and show it to their clients.

The idea is to create an environment that will allow the maximum amount of eyes. On weekends place signs at the major intersections with arrows leading to your home. Many cities do not allow signage to be placed Monday through Friday. Keep this in mind so you don’t have a city compliance enforcer removing them.
Create home flyers and have them available when you have showings.
Place a sign in the yard with an information tube attached. Place the home details and price, on flyers in this tube.

Availability and Preparation for Showing
It’s important to have your home available during the day to show. This basically means 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. seven days a week. People that decide to view homes typically work during the day, so you will have to be flexible after regular work hours. Inflexibility on your part will lead to fewer views, and will not lead to a sale.
Availability also includes answering the phone calls in a timely manner and returning the calls the same day. When people shop for homes, they typically look at three to five in any given day; a slow response by you will be an elimination factor.

Preparation encompasses everything from keeping the inside of the home clean on a daily basis to preparing the yard for maximum curb appeal. Do not underestimate the value placed on your home by prospective buyers, regarding the visual appeal of the first impression.

Place some air fresheners in hidden plugs. to give a fresh feel and scent when a prospective buyer enters the home. When you schedule an appointment for viewing, bake some fresh cookies and place them on a pleasant looking plate with a simple note thanking them for their time. Turn a radio on quietly, to a channel that plays music that is easy on the ears. If you have a media room, put in an action movie and allow it to play softly.

You want to appeal to as many senses as possible in a positive way: Set the mood so that you give your home the best opportunity to be viewed in a pleasing manner.

Common Mistakes When Showing a Property

It is easy to fix the little things that put buyers right off a property: here is how to identify them and put them right.
If you’re trying to sell, there are a few things that are guaranteed to put potential buyers right off your home. They’re not hard to fix, so take a little time to identify whether your house suffers from any of these trouble zones, and get them sorted before you start to list.

Odours are the first thing that will have your buyers running for the door; and the main culprits are cigarettes and pets. There is also the issue of an old bad-smelling mattress; if this is an issue in your home, check out these cheap mattresses online.To get rid of these smells you’ll have to aerate the rooms properly and make them truly fresh: Don’t imagine that a spritz of room spray is going to fool anyone.

Overbearing Sellers
The truth is that buyers like to feel comfortable with a house if they are to think about buying it, and that means poking about in storage spaces and taking their time to have a really good look. Even if you are selling your home yourself, you need to take a step back and give buyers some space to look at your home in their own time.

Intrusive Pets
Don’t let your pets, especially dogs, run free in your yard or home. They will either scare or irritate many buyers, so if possible leave them with a neighbour for a couple of hours, or put them in carry crates for the duration of the viewing.

Overflowing Gutters
Buyers want to see that your house has been carefully maintained; the idea of having to do a lot of renovations on a new house will send them running. So make sure your drains and gutters look clear and clean; it’s just one less thing for your buyer to worry about.

Dirty Bathrooms
Put some effort into your bathroom; this is something buyers will look at very closely. Scrub it clean, get rid of any musty smells, buy a new shower curtain, and sort out any damp or mouldy patches. Lastly, make it look inviting with colourful towels and rugs.

Uninviting Exterior
If a buyer doesn’t show up for a pre-arranged viewing, consider the idea that they might have pulled up at the curb, and simply decided not to go in. Make sure your front yard, if you have one, is tidy and attractive, your house number is visible and the gate isn’t hanging off its hinges. It’s also amazing what some colourful flowers can do to entice people in.

Dark or Dim Rooms
Make the most of the light you have in the house, by replacing dim light fixtures, installing additional light fixtures, repainting small rooms with light colours, trimming obstructive tree branches, and cleaning windows to bring in more light.

Creepy Crawlies
If you suffer from flies, cockroaches, ants, or anything; don’t even think about showing your home before you’ve got rid of them.

Questionable Wallpaper
Wallpaper that’s too busy, or simply isn’t modern, is a turnoff to buyers because they have to replace it. Ask a trusted friend’s opinion; if it has to go, then it has to go: Remove it and paint in its place. Whatever you do, don’t paint directly over it, this never works.

Damp Basement
If your basement looks or smells damp, your foundations may be leaking. It’s worth getting a surveyor to take a look, as buyers won’t be interested in anything they suspect might be structurally unsound.