Unique Living
May 24th, 2019 | by Serge Cowan

Unique Living’s Top 5 Tips for a Smooth Luxury Property Purchase

Here at Unique Living, we’ve helped hundreds of clients create their dream lifestyle by investing in luxury overseas property. Along the way, I’ve been asked all kinds of weird and wonderful questions by buyers and sellers alike. If you’re thinking of investing in luxury property, here are my top 5 tips to help you get the property you’ve been dreaming of.

Don’t underestimate the effect of cultural differences
Whatever logic might tell you, cultural differences matter when it comes to buying luxury property overseas. It can be hard to second guess a seller at the best of times; never mind in a multi-lingual, multi-cultural environment.
Imagine a property in the French Riviera, with a Dutch owner. You’re dealing with a French Estate Agent and a notary who doesn’t speak English. Suddenly, there’s huge potential for misunderstandings. Some cultures are more likely to expect negotiation. Others assume the price is a take-it-or-leave-it figure.

Our role as buyer’s advisors is it to cut through all the problems and miss-communication.

Don’t forget the importance of surveys
In international deals, it’s very rare to have a survey recommended by the selling agent. So don’t let that prevent one being done. Traditionally, there’s no mention of a survey before a deposit is taken or a promissory contract is signed. It can be a huge problem area.

As an advisor to the buyer, I’ll insist on a survey. On a recent project, we insisted on a survey and an issue with the right of way. It turned out not to be a huge problem but without insisting on a survey, it might never have been highlighted.

It might be the issue is relatively minor, but it could well be blown out of proportion, we can advise in this type of scenario on the best way forward, from previous experiences and examples.

I always work to put myself in the mind of the person buying the property. If I wouldn’t buy it, I don’t expect anyone else to.

Work with someone who understands the lifestyle you want
Except in special circumstances, a luxury overseas property is not a short-term investment. For best results, it’s important to work with someone who takes a holistic, long-term view of the lifestyle you want and advises accordingly.

We make a special point of asking about – and talking too – other family members who’ll be using the property to make sure it’s going to serve their lifestyle needs for the coming years and decades.

Too often, a traditional estate agent is simply thinking about his next commission cheque, rather than the long-term interests of the buyer. It’s vital to have someone on your side.

Buying a luxury property is like buying an antique. In the short-term its value is unlikely to change. It’s over the long-term that the value rises significantly. Think about how many people will pay £5,000 for two weeks in a luxury rental property in a beautiful part of the Mediterranean. It’s an expense, rather than an investment. On the other hand, you could pay £500 a month to own the property and rent it out while the underlying asset value increases.

Remember that bigger isn’t always better
Many people assume that the bigger the plot of real estate they secure, they happier they’ll be. But that isn’t necessarily the case. Sometimes, a smaller property can lead to a much happier lifestyle.
Ask yourself, do you want the upkeep of a villa where you have grounds to maintain and property to renovate? Or do you want an apartment where you can lock it up, pull the shutters down and get away with 24-hour security the whole time you’re away?

Have an open-mind
Too many people miss out on the overseas property of their dreams because they see buying a property as an event, rather than part of a process to creating their dream home and lifestyle.

Don’t walk into the bathroom of a house you love, decide you think the floor tiles are horrible and walk away, missing out on an amazing property as a result. Think of how you might be able to change the floor tiles instead. Almost everything is up for negotiation if handled appropriately.

Despite how it might seem, there are very few things which can’t be negotiated. The condition of a property is not a take it or leave it thing. There’s always a way to find a solution. Without proper help or advice, too often it becomes a battle of egos, which really doesn’t need to happen. Don’t show your cards too soon. Keep a straight face – don’t be too eager or let people pressure you on the basis that the property might get sold.

Stay focussed on the long-term end goal; the lifestyle of your dreams and don’t let minor deviations distract you from that. If you stay open-minded and think clearly, there’s always a way. A big part of our job is helping you find it!

Do you have any top tips you’d like to share with the Unique Living team? Write your comments below, we’d love to read them!

Serge Cowan

Serge Cowan

Managing Director and Founder

Serge has an extensive marketing background, after a broadcasting career, Serge moved into marketing where he worked for BSkyB & a number of leading Public Relations agencies.
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