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Revealed – how to avoid overseas property purchase pitfalls in a pandemic

Purchasing a property abroad is rarely a straightforward process, even at the best of times, but at present there are even more factors to bear in mind which makes things a tad more complicated.

In spite of this, estate agents in some overseas locations are reporting that the Covid-19 pandemic has sharpened perspectives, leading people to look for property now when they may have intended putting it off for a few years.

Sue Flynn, who is now an accommodation specialist for Turkey, acquired her first property in the country 15 years ago. Since then, she has purchased two more homes in the same location - Kalkan - which she rents out along with a hand-picked small selection of properties belonging to family and friends.

She says that if prospective buyers are looking for properties at this time, they can make the process as pain-free as possible and avoid common pitfalls by following some simple guidelines.

Below, we take a look at what these top tips are.

Be assertive 

“If your chosen property location is in a country where quarantine is imposed, if you are happy with the risks (many of these still have Covid levels less than the UK in popular property/holiday locations), then GO,” Flynn argues.

“You would need to make arrangements for return quarantine and check insurance details but don't be tempted to do an online search and go by that.”

Get obsessed 

“Before you go, become obsessed! Check out every available estate agent, property details, guide prices, locations, etc.”

She adds: “In other countries, you will find the same properties on the books of many different estate agents. It’s not a bad thing or anything to avoid, it’s just the way the market works to maximise exposure. However, you still should ensure that the agent has the right to sell the property and hasn’t just copied the details from another site in the hope of attracting business!”

Know what you’re getting into 

Flynn says potential buyers should make the most of their time in the location by arranging viewings before they go.

“Don't leave it to chance once you get there. If you decide it’s not for you once you are there but before the viewing, you can always cancel. Easier to do this than risk not getting a viewing when you have travelled a long distance,” she recommends.

Become familiar with your surroundings

“Stay in the area you are primarily looking at even if you have holidayed there before and think you are familiar with it,” Flynn says. “You will find that with a different perspective of a buyer you will see and be alert to different things.”

Focus on work, not play

“You can enjoy your trip but remember you are not on holiday this time! Don't be tempted to sip the raki until late! Make the most of your time - plenty of time for R and R afterwards!”

Turn super sleuth

Flynn says buyers should look around any properties they are interested in at all times of the day and night.

“It’s the same advice as the UK, but even more important as your time will be more condensed.”

Tick those boxes

“Make old-fashioned notes or a spreadsheet with chosen criteria, boxes ticked, etc, as it’s easy to be wowed by the bougainvillea,” Flynn advises.

“You need to make sure that the property meets your original criteria as closely as possible and if it doesn’t, have your preferences changed? It’s fine if this is the case but be aware of it.”

Know what you want 

“Do you want a home for yourself or somewhere you can rent in the summer months if you come back to the UK for the summer? If it’s the latter, do your sums - thoroughly! Check rental returns and do not be swayed by rental guarantees and estate agent promises!”

Be aware of the sun 

It sounds simple, Flynn says, but buyers should check the position of the sun before committing to a purchase. “You want a mix of sun and shade,” she recommends. “Even if you are not a sun worshipper, you need to have some sun in the wintertime or off-season and if you plan on renting, your market will be severely hampered if the sun is limited or goes behind a mountain too early.”

Pick the right spot 

Flynn says buyers should be careful not to choose an expat enclave if they want to circulate with the local community.

“Conversely, if you need to be with other Brits, then choose somewhere away from local residential areas. Talk to people until you are blue in the face and ‘be inquisitive’ – it’s the only way and you will thank yourself for it later when you are sipping a G&T on the roof terrace.”

Flynn has operated Kalkan Magic, a holiday property specialist in Kalkan, Turkey, for 15 years and has bought four properties over this time.

What are the current rules on travelling to Turkey?

Turkey was on the original list of countries exempt from the FCO’s advice against all non-essential international travel, with people returning from the country not required to quarantine for 14 days after arriving back in England, and it has remained on that list ever since.

However, travel to Turkey is subject to entry restrictions, with all arrivals subject to a medical evaluation for symptoms of coronavirus, including temperature checks. If you show symptoms on arrival, you’ll be required to undergo a PCR (swab) coronavirus test. You can find out more about the entry requirements here.

There are parts of Turkey – especially close to the Syrian border – which the FCO advise against all travel, or all but essential travel to. You can find out more here.

On the whole, though, the country is safe and a tourist favourite among Brits. In 2019, more than 2.5 million visits to Turkey were carried out, with most visits entirely trouble-free.

Along with Spain, Portugal, Italy and Greece, it is one of the most popular destinations for British holidaymakers, with its combination of European, Middle Eastern and Asian influences alluring visitors, and its winter sun drawing people in October, November and December.

Poll: Are you confident about investing overseas in the current environment?

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