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The hard sell could be an easy route to failure

In previous blogs, I have talked about some of the typical issues that may crop up when purchasing a property overseas. Often these are to do with the building itself, such as construction issues, no planning permission or inadequate licences. However, one area that I have not yet talked about is the ‘hard sell’.

You might find yourself in the unenviable position of being under too much pressure to buy because of pushy sales staff. This can often happen on inspection flights where you are shunted around by the developer or agent. This is often within a tightly controlled timetable. Their trick is to corral all potential buyers during a number of property visits, designed to get you to sign on the dotted line whilst you are out there.

The sales staff are often with you practically 24 hours a day, putting you under pressure, not giving you the time to think. Their job is to persuade you to buy without any time to take your own professional independent advice.

If you do book an inspection flight, check if there are any restrictions on movement outside of the defined area or developments that you are visiting. Make it clear before you fly out that you will not be pressurised into signing any paperwork without first taking independent advice. Let the developer or agent know that you would only consider a purchase, if an acceptable cooling off period is in place.

In my last blog, I discussed cooling off periods. It’s a real bone of contention for me if these are not offered. The developer or agent should have nothing to hide. I personally would like to see cooling-off periods of up to at least 14 days, but ideally 30 days as standard. Cooling off periods currently apply for timeshare in some jurisdictions, so why not for outright ownership?

If you were selecting an estate agent at home, then I’m sure you would ask around, find out if your neighbours have used them and check what their service was like. The same goes for a major expense like a builder. Apply this principle overseas too – try to obtain references from previous clients of the developer or agent you are dealing with to establish their past customer service record.

Also, try and see older property by the same developer, to establish how they have weathered the ‘test of time’ and sometimes very high temperatures.

Location could be an issue with any properties that you visit. Properties that may have looked great in a sales brochure could end up being located in a totally unsuitable area. For example, your dream property may actually be situated next to a motorway, a local airfield, a rubbish dump or a sewage works. While this should be fairly obvious on the first visit, it is very important to make multiple visits, at night and day, and during different seasons. There could be less obvious issues to watch out for, such as noisy dogs or livestock.

Never, ever, sign up for a property that you have not taken the time to visit. Make time to talk to people who already own property in the area to get a better understanding of what it is like to live there. Ask the neighbours about their own experiences. The chances are you may not have the opportunity or be in a position to do the essential research like this on any inspection flight.

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Details correct when this article was originally posted on September 24, 2012.