The presenters of A Place in the Sun talk us through their thoughts on what Brexit could mean for British overseas property hunters in the short, and long, term.
Before Brexit, I spent a lot of time in the Spanish costas, where many estate agents were reporting an upturn in interest, due mainly to Brits. In some areas they reckoned four in fi ve of their sales were to UK buyers. With those sorts of numbers, it’s hard to see why the authorities would want to forgo such a huge buying population in a recovering property market.
Another thought: new rental laws in many Spanish regions, including Andalusia, home to the Costa del Sol, mean that local governments now have a clearer insight into how much tax they receive from homes used for holiday lets, many of which belong to Britons. So again, it’s hard to see why they would want to stop this. With Brits comprising such a large portion of foreign buyers in France, Spain and Portugal, I envisage bilateral negotiations and deals set up to provide surety for the future. The rules are likely to change but I see no reason for them to halt what has been a steady stream of purchasers. Get a decent independent lawyer who you can talk to regularly and they should stay abreast of any changes.
In the short term, purchasers in Europe are having to fi nd a bit more money due to the weakness of the pound but, as a buyer, I would incorporate that into my negotiations. Currency exchange specialists are now playing a bigger part in the process.
the referendum, I have encountered confusion from Europeans who can’t understand why British people would want to live in or own homes in their countries but don’t want to be in the EU.
For those wishing to relocate, the good news is that, according to our legal advice, if you move before Brexit you keep your rights as an EU citizen even after Brexit – they will stand retrospectively. After exiting the EU, some rules undoubtedly will change and our entitlement to education for our children and healthcare might be aff ected, but many local economies rely on British holidaymakers and homeowners so it would not be in their interests to penalise British people too much.
Having said that, it is important to look at the bigger picture. The costas are not the whole of Spain. Rules for people who are working and paying taxes and national insurance in European countries probably won’t be the same as for those who are retiring. So ensure that you have a plan for healthcare that covers you both before and after Brexit. We’ve always had lots of househunters buying outside Europe, in destinations like the Caribbean and Florida, and choosing somewhere outside the EU hasn’t held them back.
Yes, we are in a time of uncertainty, but if Brexit is the catalyst to make you realise a long-held dream of moving abroad then maybe this is the kick-start you need to crack on with things.
For many of us fi lming A Place in the Sun, Brexit came as a bit of a surprise. However, as someone who already owns a property in Spain, it’s reassuring to know that for the time being I’m still able to enjoy all the current benefi ts of being part of the EU. To be honest, I can’t really see any major changes taking place for a good few years, and even when they do happen people will still be able to buy abroad both within Europe, or further afi eld should they choose.
When it comes to buying abroad, only do it if you’re 100 per cent comfortable with the purchase. I can understand why some people will prefer to wait to see what sort of agreements the UK makes with countries such as Spain, France, Portugal or Italy, and how Brexit affects the expat landscape.
That said, anyone who buys in the European Union or moves there before Brexit will keep the rights they acquire while the UK is an EU member after the country leaves the EU. You could argue that it makes sense to buy sooner rather than later, before any rules might change.
As a homeowner in Italy, I’m not overly concerned about what Brexit could mean for me. I will continue to own my property and, touch wood, receive rental income from it. Looking at the wider picture, it’s hard to believe that countries that attract a lot of UK buyers will want to lose the economic benefi ts derived from British second homeowners and expats. Equally, the Algarve and Spanish costas will continue to be attractive places to own a holiday home or retire to.