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Ask the experts: European holiday homes

Our travel experts give advice on buying holiday homes abroad

Ask the experts: European holiday homes
Flowered street at Cordoba, Andalusia. Image: Getty

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QWhere’s the cheapest — and easiest — place to buy a holiday home in Europe?

traveltalk_LIzRowlinson[2]Liz Rowlinson, editor of A Place in the Sun magazine: Spain ticks so many boxes for British property hunters that it’s not hard to see why it’s our number one destination. Whether you’re seeking a low-cost apartment in a lively coastal resort, a historic city conversion or a rural finca, there’s a vast range of options. A well-established property market, prices that are still way below their 2007 peak, booming tourism and the weak euro combine to produce a lively market this spring.

To buy safely in Spain do your legal due diligence (use a lawyer!) and choose the right location. Plenty of homes were built in poor locations during the boom years and remain unsold. Even in the good locations of the Costas you can get an apartment for less than €100,000 (£75,350) or a villa in a village near the coast for double that.

France is always vying with Spain for the top spot with UK buyers. Easy access to our nearest neighbour is a key reason. Many prefer to drive to their French property, so Normandy, Loire and Brittany remain popular, with chic Poitou-Charentes offering renovated three-bed farmhouses for £120,000. In the south, the Languedoc and Pyrenees-Atlantiques areas are affordable alternatives to the Côte d’Azur, while the French Alps is attracting global investors. The property market in (rural) France is still pretty sluggish, but mortgage deals are plentiful with rates at historic lows, so it’s a once-in-a-decade chance for home-hunters with sterling.

A Place in the Sun Live is at Manchester Central 11-13 March and Olympia London 6-8 May.

traveltalk_David+Blake-1-2303109217-O_HRDavid Blake, Which? mortgage adviser: Find out as much as possible about local property before buying — search online, speak to local estate agents (through the Association of International Property Professionals (AIPP)) or go direct through developers.

Next, consider whether your overseas property will be your primary or second home. You may want to let it out when you’re not using it, but bear in mind that there are risks. Find out how much the current owner makes and don’t forget to factor in maintenance costs.

Seek legal protection and for this you’ll need an independent lawyer fluent in both English and the local language. A notary — an impartial government representative — may need to oversee the transaction.

Be sure to budget for mortgage and lawyers’ fees, taxes and insurance. You’ll also need to consider rental taxes you may be liable to pay. If you need to take out a mortgage, make sure you speak to an independent adviser as early as possible to understand your budget.

For more advice, go to: which.co.uk

Published in the March 2016 issue of National Geographic Traveller (UK)