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Research 'is essential when buying property abroad'

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Potential property buyers thinking of acquiring a home in a foreign country have been advised to conduct thorough research before committing to a purchase.

Liz Rowlinson, editor of A Place in the Sun magazine, stressed that thorough prior research is essential for people contemplating buying foreign property because the systems in place for buying overseas are fundamentally different.

Prospective buyers were urged to make sure that they enlist the services of independent legal advisors to help guide them through the process.

Comparing international money transfer companies also comes recommended so buyers can obtain the best deal when sending money to complete a purchase.

Ms Rawlinson said that the recent volatility in currency markets has made it difficult to predict living costs but pointed out that non-eurozone countries such as Turkey, Morocco and Egypt have benefitted from the rising cost of life in Europe.

Those not afraid to go further afield were advised to consider destinations such as Mexico or the Far East, which have fairly low living costs.

Above all, Ms Rawlinson stressed that independent advice is what is needed to help make the buying process in a foreign country as smooth as possible.

"People who call themselves selling agents may not be qualified, may not act on your interests, and will not necessarily be accountable to any official body in that country," she said.

"Documents and contracts will usually be in a foreign language, so can be open to misinterpretation. There [also] may be additional costs involved in the buying process that you are not familiar with."

According to A Place in the Sun, countries that are most popular among UK residents looking to move abroad and start a new life tend to be destinations that benefit from year-round sun, such as Florida in the United States, the Caribbean, Canary Islands, the southern part of Spain and Cyprus.

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