Legal advice for buying property overseas
You wouldn’t buy a property in the UK without the services of a lawyer and the same rule applies when buying overseas. Ideally you should source your own, independent lawyer to represent your interests in the transaction, they will need to speak both English and the language of the country where you are buying.
The estate agent selling the property or the developer you are buying from may well recommend a law firm they know locally who they have used before and are confident in their services. However it is important there is no relationship between the vendor and your lawyer and that ultimately you choose who to appoint, the agent represents the vendor and you need your own independent legal expert to ask the right questions and ensure everything is in order before you pay a deposit on the property.
You should clarify the legal costs with your lawyer at the outset, these can often be higher than the UK and along with VAT (in some countries) need to be factored into your budget. While the lawyer does not necessarily need to be based in the town you are buying they should have experience of conducting house purchases in the area. Their costs will be a factor in your choice but as it’s an important service you are buying, cheaper is not necessarily better. Typically, lawyers fees will be between 1% - 2% of the purchase price, although can vary by country or property price. Don't be tempted to scrimp on legal costs - following the right process now could save you a lot of trouble down the line!
If you are buying a property on a development or group of houses, it is important your lawyer establishes the annual costs you are committing to such as maintenance of the pool and common areas.