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FACT FILE - Buy to let – Holiday Homes – Outside the UK

The Buy to let market has been growing considerably in the UK since the mid 1990’s and now with the growth of second homes outside the UK there is even a greater market.

Where to begin? First of all decide on why you are buying – Do you intend to live in the property for holidays or purchase a property purely to let out permanently?

Long term renting: If you are going to buy a property purely to let out, then you should seek the assistance of a professional estate/letting agent in the country that you choose. Most countries have different systems for letting out a property and you could find that you have to commit the letting up to nine years. You should also seek specialist help regarding the location, whether to let it furnished or unfurnished.

Holiday rentals: If you go down this route it will mean that you have the benefit of an income from the property plus the opportunity to take your holidays there.

First of all you have to decide on a country - France one of the most popular, Spain still very popular like Portugal and Cyprus. Then there are the less well known destinations - Greece, Turkey and Eastern Europe.

Many people start their research by looking at a country they are familiar with. You then have to decide on the location. If you are aiming to let the property to cover costs and mortgage repayments then you must purchase it in an area that is going to be popular with visitors. You should also take care right from the start not to overstretch your budget. Remember that you will often have to pay a purchase tax on the property, lawyer’s fees and in some countries agent’s fees when you purchase.

The next decision is your market. Are you aiming solely at the UK and Irish market – this will mean it will have to be located close to airports or are you considering a wider market – Dutch, German & Scandinavia for example? A wider market will naturally give you more opportunities to let the property, but you also have to promote it in those additional countries.

You have now decided upon the country and the area within that country. How do you find that property? There are several ways. Companies organise expositions in many countries like the UK and Ireland. Here you go along to a local hotel and collect the information and this is followed up by an inspection flight. You will often find that these properties are just being built or are going to be built. Many of these companies are now offering second hand properties.

There are numerous property and country magazines with pages of ads for new and second hand property that is available and many newspapers advertise similar properties.

A very popular method is the Internet. If the agent’s site is good you should get several photos of one property and many agents will be happy to email you further pictures. If you are then planning an inspection visit, arrange several appointments so that you get an idea of what various properties are like. Many agents speak your language as well and if in doubt take along a friend who can help.

If your property is located in a country that is very warm, particularly in the summer and you have the opportunity of buying a place with a pool, this can certainly boost rental income and make it more attractive to rent. There are of course additional maintenance costs involved with a pool.


Furnishing it – You now have the right property – the next step will be furnishing it. Equip the kitchen well. People on a self catering holiday don’t want to spend a lot of time washing up – provide a dishwasher if possible. A washing machine is an essential and a television is very welcome particularly on a wet autumnal evening. Along with a television you might have to consider a satellite system and which one will depend on your core market.

Most people have mobile phones, so it is not necessary to provide a telephone. If you do, contact the telephone provider to find out ways of providing one in a holiday home whereby you don’t find you are paying someone else’s phone bill. Even if you have incoming calls, someone can always accept a reverse charge call to your phone!

Remember to take into account safety measures. Install a smoke detector, have your appliances checked (in some countries it is the law) and make sure that the furniture is smart, in a good state of repair and if applicable compliant to local safety regulations. Breakages can occur so provide crockery and glassware that can easily be replaced at the local supermarket or department store.

Bedding & bed linen: Decide whether you provide this or not. It is an additional cost – not only for the initial (plus replacement purchase) plus the ongoing associated laundry costs.

Local agent: - You will need to consider in your financial planning the costs of employing a local agent. This can be in the form of an agent who finds visitors to rent the property and checks them in and out, arranges maintenance etc, or purely someone who just acts as a key holder and checks your visitors in and out and generally manages the property for you.

Alternatively you can just employ an agent to check the visitors in and out and organise routine maintenance. Some people get to know a neighbour and ask them to do this. If you go down this route, it should be on a business footing.

Letting & Marketing: – don’t reserve the best letting weeks of the year to yourselves, particularly if you need the rental to pay for the property. Try and visit it off season. It is good to go there at least twice year, to check on its state and condition and also to carry out any repairs or garden tasks that have not been attended to.

The amount of time during the year the property is let will depend on your outgoings; there are several ways to find holiday renters. You can use the Local agent, list it with a holiday company back home or advertise it yourself using a specialist holiday publication (or several of these) or try the national newspapers. Advertising costs can mount up, particularly if you are not getting the enquiries. As more and more people are turning to the Internet, look for a specialist site like

the low cost villa advertising service

CLICK HERE You simply pay an annual fee of under £100 and the enquiries go straight to you. Many people then decide to have their personal website. This can provide a lot more additional information about the property, area and if it is well illustrated with photographs, you have then developed your own brochure on line. The costs of building a website can be quite high, so shop around and don’t go for something that is too fancy, has long introductions and large photos\that take a long time to download. People using the web, so get bored and want quick results.

Finally remember – get your rental price attractive to attract renters

Wills: You should make arrangements whilst you are in the process of purchasing your property to make a will in that country in relation to the overseas property. In some countries like France there can be inheritance problems whereby children automatically benefit rather their mother. The lawyer handling your purchase can be consulted about local formalities.

Check List rules for a Buy to Let Property

Buy in a country that you know – As you will also be wanting to stay there, make sure that you can get there easily.

Research the up and coming areas.

Target the market you want your property to appeal to.

Don’t make too many restrictions on the letting – You must consider family lets, pets travel all over Europe these days.

Get the rental price correct. It is no good setting a high price when people are not interested in renting your place. Check out the prices of the competition.

Location of property – is it within easy traveling distance of an airport? How far away is the nearest motorway – town or beach or lakes the property located with regular water supplies and electricity? If the property is on a septic tank remember that the maintenance has to be arranged.

Don’t just buy a property that appeals only to you – if you are buying to let you need to consider firstly those who will be paying the costs – your paying guests.

Finance – Your rental income has to cover the mortgage – the upkeep of the property – the marketing costs – Paying for a local agent to administer guest transfers – Tax (local property taxes plus income tax in the country the property is located in / or back in your home country)

You must think about this as a long term investment – you should also take into account that you might buy when property has had a history of rising in price, however there can always be the possibility of prices falling in your chosen country or region and your property no longer being in a “fashionable” holiday area.

Insure the property – Buildings, contents and for your paying guests.

Provide your visitors with an Information folder for the property and don’t refer to them as “Tenants”. Many people do not like this term.

If you are going to spend your own holidays at the property and want to keep some of your own personal belongings away from your paying guests, try and build, or use a specific cupboard, cellar area etc to keep locked.

N.B. This information should not be relied on for accuracy and is presented here without the responsibility of jml Property Service and the website it is being displayed at. ©jml property Services 09-04

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