In this guest article, Andres Manzano, head of product (business) at PagoFX - a money transfer app launched earlier this year by Santander - outlines some top tips for how investors can pandemic-proof their homes overseas without breaking the bank. Or the rules.
No matter if you have a property abroad, a holiday home, or rent a place long-term, 2020 has definitely been a difficult year. It was clear from March that the full impact of Covid-19 would be felt across all aspects of our lives, and property owners were soon faced with travel restrictions, which limited access to their own properties overseas.
While the pandemic caused widespread impact globally, closer to home we’ve started to see individuals return to travelling within Europe and, tentatively, beyond. Although some owners might not be able to return to their holiday home yet, they can still start listing them on sites like Airbnb and Booking.com, for the first time to local guests.
As a result, many property owners are now thinking of new ways to ensure their properties stay safe and secure during the pandemic. For instance, Stanley Johnson, the Prime Minister’s father, received backlash in the press for claiming his trip to Greece was essential for ‘Covid-proofing’ his property. Regardless of whether or not this was the case, it draws greater attention to the difficulties overseas property owners are facing.
Here are some of our recommendations on how to keep your property safe and secure during the pandemic:
Your property may or may not already be listed on short-term rental sites such as Airbnb, but we would strongly recommend making all access and interaction within the property free of human contact. This could be done by swapping from in-person welcomes and collections to using combination lock boxes and codes on front doors. This ensures guests can securely enter the property in a socially distanced way.
If these may not currently be in place, it will mean working with trusted local contractors to install new locks or security lock boxes. This will come at a cost but in order to guarantee the health and safety of your lodgers, it will be worth the investment in the long-term.
Using video conferencing and international money transfer apps to interact with these contractors also means you can avoid physical interaction with others and complete these tasks from the safety and comfort of your home.
Sanitise your living space
You might be someone who enjoys personally cleaning your holiday home, but now is also a good time to consider enlisting the help of local cleaners or cleaning agencies. This is essential if you plan to welcome guests: don’t forget, as the host you’re responsible for keeping the place tidy, sanitised, and Covid-19-free.
Note that many cleaning agencies are deploying the latest products or technologies to increase their effectiveness against tackling and avoiding viruses like Covid-19. To avoid unnecessary travel, it is best to find local services and ensure the cleaners are fully briefed on the use of the property. This way they will know how frequently to deep-clean your place.
Why not use a house sitter?
Letting out a holiday home is not everyone’s cup of tea, even if it means the property remains vacant due to travel restrictions or safety concerns. It can be especially daunting when you have no prior experience in using hosting websites like Airbnb. That said, the idea of having an empty home for months on end could prove worrisome.
In this scenario, holiday homeowners can think about finding a house sitter in the country your property is located. This job would appeal to many individuals that are looking for more space or a change of scenery during this pandemic.
Their roles and responsibilities would include ensuring the property is kept clean and secure, and you don’t have to worry about guests coming and going. It will also prove more time- and cost-efficient to pay for cleaners via a house sitter, if payments are made first to the house sitter via an international money transfer service.
Some homeowners may decide to keep their property empty this season to avoid all the hassle. While this might sound easy, it’s important to take time to research and consider your holiday home’s security when leaving it empty.
Implementing new technologies, such as smart lights and smart surveillance cameras and doorbells, can allow you to monitor your property from your sofa here in the UK. If you don’t already have these installed, you can work together with a local provider to set these up.
Double-check large money transfers
Finally, the one key takeaway from this article is the need for investment in your holiday home. Whether or not it is a necessity depends on the individual, for some it could mean paying more local providers rather than doing the work themselves, for others it is transferring money from UK bank accounts rather than local ones.
When transferring money abroad into a foreign currency, it is recommended to avoid using bank transfers directly from your bank accounts in the UK. That´s because it can take longer for your money to arrive, and it is likely that you will be charged higher rates to transfer your money.
Instead, dedicated international money transfer services, like PagoFX, are designed to quickly and securely transfer your money between currencies for the best possible rate. Most have an app designed to ensure that the transfer is faster than traditional banking methods. Since international money transfer fees can add up over time, users of these apps would have large cost savings.
From social distancing to installing smart technology, there is a wide range of simple yet effective ways to keep your holiday home safe and secure during the pandemic, which can all be done from the comfort and safety of your own home.
*Andres Manzano is head of product at PagoFX, a money transfer app launched by Santander in April 2020 which aims to make transferring money abroad fast, secure and low-cost.