When just after Christmas each year property websites like Rightmove report a spike in searches on Christmas and Boxing Day, it’s often a prompt for much shaking of heads and wondering what the world is coming to.
What we say, however, is what better time is there to start planning a grand new adventure for the year ahead – maybe a new holiday home or a complete change of location – than when in the bosom of the family, during the advert breaks of your festive TV viewing?
So after you have found a few properties on Propertyguides.com, the next step is to plan a trip to go and see them. If this is you, bear these points in mind:
Avoid the February half-term. For most of the country, 13th to 17th February is half term, when flights will be packed, especially to ski resorts (bad luck if you were planning a romantic Valentine’s getaway!).
Don’t get stuck with one agent. Once you’ve decided on a resort or area, don’t feel pressured into sticking with one estate agent and allowing them to control your time there. A good agent will drive you around and throw in a drinks stop. But when they start offering you free accommodation and over-managing your itinerary, it can be time to take a step back.
Think about seasonality. If visiting in late winter/early spring most summer resorts are almost entirely closed and you’ll want to know how different things are in the height of summer, such as where the busier tourist areas are as opposed to the quieter residential areas. See if you can get a moment to speak with a local, especially an expat who can tell you what it is like in the high season. Expat forums are great for this.
Get ready. Before your trip, put in place whatever you might need in case you want to move quickly on a property. That might include getting a local bank account and a local tax number. A good estate agent will explain what documents you need to bring.
Be ready to transfer currency. When you find your ideal home abroad you will normally need to pay a deposit before flying back to the UK. If you use your own bank you are likely to pay significant fees and get a poor exchange rate compared to a currency specialist. We recommend Smart Currency Exchange, authorised by the FCA and ranked number one on Trustpilot. They could save you thousands of pounds on a property purchase so it is worth opening a free account before you go house-hunting.
Beware the end of March. Speaking of currency, with the Brexit process beginning by the end of March, the pound could easily dip in value. It is worth speaking to a currency dealer at Smart before you even start looking. You could even lock in a rate so you know how much you have to spend.
Merry Christmas and a happy new home in 2017!
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