What We Wish We Had Known Before

What We Wish We Had Known Before

Hindsight in a wonderful thing. As you go through the property hunting process you pick up all sorts of bits of useful knowledge that might be useful the next time round.

Here 10 overseas owners share their regrets - and also a few of us involved in the industry too (you would have thought we would have known better...).

"Choose your mortgage broker carefully"

Judy and Mark Andrews

Second home in Poitou-Charentes, France

The only hiccup we had was our French mortgage broker. We chose him because he was in Paris and came recommended. But he was a very laid-back American who frequently took holidays, making him difficult to get hold of!"

"This meant we didn't find out that we were being turned down for a euro mortgage until almost the week we needed to complete! So we had to ask for an extension and spent a very frantic month raising the required funds in sterling instead, which fortunately we managed to do. We were so relieved that we didn't lose the property - we absolutely love our French home."

"Do you really need extra rooms and a pool?"

Andy Probert

Resident in Altinkum, Turkey

"From my experience of buying two properties in Altinkum, my first piece of advice is to keep your ambitions in check. By that I mean be realistic about the size of property you want - buying a large duplex means more empty rooms to maintain and clean, and really think carefully about whether you want a private pool as you need to be able to justify the maintenance costs against the usage it'll get."

"Secondly, if you are buying on a complex, ensure there is a legal committee managing the complex and that it is clear what the annual maintenance costs are."

"Don't wait half your life to do it!"

David Windell

Chalet owner in the French Alps

"My only regret is that I didn't buy my chalet, which is 15 minutes from the Three Valleys and Paradiski ski areas, sooner! I ski in the winter and paraglide in the warmer months, but at 55 years of age I don't have the energy I used to. If only I had done this when I was much, much younger."

"In fact, I wish I had started skiing when I was a child, but alas my parents couldn't afford such trips away back then. My kids have told me that with hindsight they wished we had gone on family winter ski trips and not sunny summer beach holidays!"

"Think carefully about location"

Pattie Pegler

Expat in Christchurch, New Zealand

"When my husband and I bought our first home in New Zealand, we got carried away by the space we could afford, so much so we didn't give enough thought to location. We bought in a very rural area surrounded by dairy farms and not much else. It was too off-the-beaten track for me and I became lonely and bored."

"We now live in an area I describe as 'countryside light'. We have plenty of space and rural views, but restaurants and shops are a 10-minute drive away! Buying a home is about location and we should have thought about that more with our first home."

"Think about street noise!"

Sally Veall

Expat in Catalonia, Spain

"I bought an apartment in the pedestrianised centre of town, 300 metres from the beach and close to all amenities - a seemingly perfect location. The family run bar in the street was no problem but one thing that hadn't occurred to me was street noise."

"The pedestrian only street was paved with large patterned stones allowing every sound to echo between the walls on either side. Children played football there and it was also a great place to practise on your skateboard. In the winter it wasn't so bad, but come late spring and summer the noise was constant!"

"We should have sold our car before we left"

Lesley Dumayne and Geoff Black

Villa in Peyia, Cyprus

"Finding a property and moving all our furniture to Cyprus last year was relatively easy. What was not was bringing our car over with us. There is so much paperwork that it has been the bane of our (new) life. If you are relocating to Cyprus, buy a car there instead - it will save you a lot of stress."

"Use a popular holiday rentals portal to help you attract lettings"

Andrew Morris

Second-home owner, Languedoc-Roussillon

'Eight years I managed my own lettings, worried about losing profit to an agent. Instead I rented it for a fraction of its value to anyone who enquired. Then I signed up to Holiday Lettings. They reach a wide audience and I now charge decent prices. They get their fee, I get mine and the bookings have rolled in.'

"Will being remote work with children?"

Joe Cawley

Expat in Tenerife, Spain

"When I bought our home on the island, I would have thought a little more about the relative remoteness of our hillside village. Although it's calm and secluded, not having public transport, or any walking access to shops, bars and other civilization means I've now added 'children's taxi driver' to my list of near-full-time job roles!"

"Thoroughly research your mortgage options"

Barry Kimber

Second home in Lanzarote, Spain

"Have a mortgage in place before you do any viewings. It was only after paying a deposit for my apartment in Lanzarote that I found out most UK financial institutions won't lend on property outside the UK, so I turned to my Lanzarote estate agent, who said they knew a bank that could help."

"So I did the paperwork and waited... and waited. It got to the point where the vendor was ready to pull out and I had to fly out to save the deal. A day before completion, the Spanish bank came up with the funds, offering me €14,000 less than I wanted due to theirs valuation. I had to pay the shortfall."

"Don't rush the layout of a restoration"

Julie Savill

Property agent in south-west France

"I was so excited about having my first house in France that I tried to do too much too quickly. We bought a complete wreck but even so, I wish we had camped in it for a bit longer while we thought about the final layout of the rooms."

"We made a gorgeous home but I would have made different decisions if I had taken my time. I guess you could have always done something differently in retrospect."

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A Place In The Sun

Originally published in the A Place in the Sun magazine - Issue 124