Avoid the pitfalls of buying a second home

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Avoid the pitfalls of buying a second home

Buying a holiday home abroad is a big step, so you need to make sure you know what you're doing.

With this in mind, we've compiled some advice on how to avoid the major pitfalls when buying your second home.

Read on for more...

First things first

  • Invest in good legal advice when doing your groundwork and before making any decisions.

  • Buying procedures and legal issues surrounding buying a holiday home vary from country to country, even between complexes.

  • Hire a lawyer who is fluent in both your mother tongue and the local language. This will help avoid mistakes due to communication problems, and they will be able to get to the heart of matters.

  • The local tourist office should be able to advise on finding a bilingual lawyer.

  • A lawyer will also be able to advise you on the possibility of future extensions.

Do your research

  • Always visit the property personally before buying.

  • Do independent research - don't just take an agent's word as fact.

  • If you're buying to rent it out, research the holiday market; season, access from the UK, for example. Think how you would cope if you didn't get as many rentals as hoped - don't put yourself under too much financial pressure.

  • Always get a full structural survey done before you buy.

  • If you want to make changes to your property then research planning permission in your chosen country.

Think of the family

  • Research the inheritance tax laws in the country where you're buying. These differ drastically from country to country.

  • French Inheritance Tax rules, for example, require you to leave a certain proportion of your property to your relatives.

Safety first

  • Investigate crime levels in your chosen area.

  • As a holiday home owner, you may be at risk if you leave your property unattended for a significant period of time.


  • Check out the political situation in your chosen country and area.

  • The political climate should be stable if you want your investment to work.

  • Find out about any requirements for visas for your guests.

Hold back on the hammer

  • Try and keep renovations and alterations to a minimum.

  • Unless you are really committed, then it's best to try and avoid buying a 'wreck' with a view to transforming it.

  • If you live abroad, it will be difficult to keep track of progress on work being done.

  • If you're investing abroad for the first time, it's best to opt for a property that doesn't much, if any, work doing.

Laws and licences

  • You need to check out the rules regarding short-term rentals in your chosen area.

  • Requirements vary from country to country and from complex to complex.

  • Do some independent research but also get your legal expert to advise.

  • Some areas have bans on short-term rentals, while others require specific licences.

  • If you're buying in a complex, ask the community president, and get any information verified by your lawyer.

  • Have a look at our advice on holiday home licences and regulations for more information.

Property finders

  • If you prefer a helping hand in choosing your property, then consider using a property finder.

  • These tend to be individuals or small companies with specialist knowledge in an area.

  • They will also have a good working knowledge of buying a property in the area.

  • They may add a small percentage to the overall cost of purchasing the property, but you may find it is well worth it!