Organising a viewing trip when buying property overseas: Top Tips

Booking a viewing trip for a property purchase abroad is an exciting prospect and it can be easy to get carried away in the process without planning properly. Here are our tops tips for things to remember when organising an overseas viewing trip!

It’s all about the timing

Getting the timing right for an overseas property viewing trip is crucial. It can be tempting to book flights and wing it when you arrive, but you may find that it’s difficult to arrange viewings for the properties you want to see if your time there is limited. For instance, you may find it more difficult to arrange viewings at weekends or if the owners prefer to conduct viewings themselves and they’re not available at short notice you could miss out on your dream property.

It’s advisable to contact an estate agent in advance to book viewings and plan your itinerary. Often estate agents will work with other agents so that they can show you lots of properties that meet your criteria to find you the right property, not just the properties on their own listings. So, there’s often no need to deal with lots of different agents.

It’s also worth visiting the area at different times of year to get a feel for what the place is like throughout the various seasons. If you’re planning on using the property out of season, you’ll want to know what the area and local services are like in those quieter months.

If you need a mortgage, it’s also advisable to find out what your finance options are before a viewing trip so that you are in a good position to proceed if you find the perfect place.

Make it count

Factoring in extra time for appointments can save you money in the long-run. For instance, when buying a property in Spain, Portugal and Italy you’ll require a fiscal number. This is known as an NIE number in Spain, an NIF number in Portugal and a Codice Fiscale in Italy. These can often be obtained relatively easily and cheaply in person. Likewise, it can be helpful to set up a bank account, which is necessary when buying a property abroad, while you are in the country. Otherwise, in both instances, you’ll need a lawyer in that country to assist, which of course comes with a cost. Remember that it’s unlikely you’ll be able to get an appointment to obtain a fiscal number or with the bank on weekends or public holidays!

If you have the time, you may also want to arrange a face-to-face meeting with a lawyer. While you can usually handle the legal aspects via phone and email, sometimes it’s nice to put a face to the name! You can also arrange to provide your lawyers with a Power of Attorney.

If you’re planning to rent your property out as a holiday let or long-term rental, it’s worth taking the opportunity during your viewing trip to find out whether there are any suitable property management agents and research what the going rental rates are.

Explore the area

It may seem obvious but if you don’t already know the region well it’s a good idea to suss out the whole area as well as nearby locations, in case you discover that you prefer a nearby town or village. Some people even prefer to have a separate scoping trip before committing to viewing properties to narrow down their search.

Find out what the transport links and local public transport are like. Are the bars, restaurants and other local services open year-round? How easy is it to get to the beach? How expensive or inexpensive is the local cost of living?

Make a list of questions

It’s easy to forget to ask crucial questions when your swept up in the excitement of viewing a property. Envisaging yourself sunbathing by the pool or sipping cocktails on the terrace can distract from the task at hand. So, take a list of questions to keep you on track. Check whether there are any service charges. Ask what the annual bills cost. Find out whether the property comes with or without furniture and white goods. Don’t get caught out by local quirks, for instance in Italy, it’s not uncommon for owners to take the kitchen units with them. So, it’s always best to ask more questions than face a nasty surprise on completion!

Our property viewing checklist may come in handy!

Have some helpful contacts

Being organised and having contact details for a lawyer and currency specialist, for instance, in advance of a viewing trip can help put your mind at ease as well as putting you in a good position compared to other potential buyers. A good lawyer will be happy to answer any questions you may have about the buying process and/or offer an opinion if you have any concerns. If you find your dream property, it also means you don’t have the immediate stress of trying to find a lawyer and are less likely to succumb to an estate agent putting undue pressure on you, which let’s face it is not uncommon, as you can refer them to liaise with your lawyer.

Likewise, if you already have an account set up with a currency specialist if you need to transfer funds during your trip for a deposit, you can do so easily and stress-free, safe in the knowledge that you’re getting the best exchange rate possible.

If you have any questions about buying abroad ahead of a viewing trip, contact us on 01244 478911 or email us on and our friendly team will be happy to help.

We can also put you in touch with recommended English-speaking lawyers, estate agents, mortgage advisors and currency specialists in Spain, Portugal, Italy, France and many more countries!

Article published: February 19, 2019