Friday, 19 September 2014

The 5 point checklist for budding expat landlords

Expat property habits vary wildly around the world. According to our 2013 survey the majority of expats in India spend less on property than they did at home, despite the fact that almost a quarter (22%) own two or more properties in the country. Compare that to the Middle East where tough property restrictions on expats mean that only 16% of expats own a property there. In total 23% of expats said they increased their investment in property since becoming an expat, so if you’re interested in joining their ranks - do you have what it takes to become an expat landlord?

1   Do the numbers stack up?
Property empires aren’t built in a day and the first question expat landlords need to consider is whether it’s worth the investment in time and money. Whether it’s managing tax bills, paying letting agent fees, the risk of keeping an empty house or simply maintenance costs. Expat landlords should keep in mind that it may take some time to get your investment back. Before investing the inheritance then, be realistic, sit down and crunch the numbers.

2   Do you have the patience?
Impatient, impetuous and easily offended? Being a landlord might not be the job for you. The majority of tenants will pay on time, treat your pad like a palace and keep to the rules – but be prepared for someone more troublesome. If you can’t take the odd confrontation with your tenants, perhaps buy to let isn’t the business for you. If your heart is set on becoming a landlord without the hassle, skip to point 4 and look for an agent.consider a letting agent.

3   Where to buy?
Whilst you might be restricted to one country, you’re certainly not restricted to one town or city. Property prices can vary as much within countries as they do between them and if you want to get the most for your money sometimes you need to shop around. Furthermore, some countries are much more likely to have a renting culture than others. Berlin in Germany is famous for attracting a steady stream of long-term tenants for instance but, according to the UK Office of National Statistics, in London only 29.2% of households rent from a private landlord or letting agency.

Consider who will be renting your property, is it single professionals or a young family each tenant has different needs. What are the communication links like, are there good schools nearby and how close are the nearest shops?  It’s important to keep in mind the balance between being able to buy at a fair price now and having demand if you need to sell the property quickly.

4   The agent question
So you’re tough, prepared and know where you want to buy. Even the most steely expat landlord will struggle with all the local details and nuances, especially if you don’t speak the local lingo.  One answer is to employ an agent to manage the tenant relationship for you. Agents can help you collect rent, inspect the property, sort out tax and help manage any upkeep problems the tenant has. If you live a long way from the property, an agent might well be a life saver, but remember to shop around and find someone reliable.

5   Do you know the local rules?
Finally, have you done your research? There’s plenty of information out there so swot up and get reading. Our Buy to Let guide, produced in conjunction with the National Landlords Association, is a great start for budding expat landlords in the UK.

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