How to buy a holiday home in the UK or abroad

Here’s what you need to consider if you’re after a place in the sun – at home or abroad

buying a holiday home

Buying a holiday home is the dream for most of us. Who wouldn’t want a place to escape to as and when the mood takes you? And whether it’s a bolthole in the country, a place by the sea or a villa abroad, they all have massive advantages.

But a holiday home doesn’t just need to be a dream, especially if you’re savvy. It could actually be a good investment and earn you an extra income if you rent it out. There are lots of things to consider, however, when buying a second property, especially if it happens to be abroad.

So, where to start?

To rent out or not

The type of holiday home you opt to buy will most likely depend on whether you plan to rent it out or not. If you’re planning to keep it for personal use only it’s always worth considering buying something that could be rented out in future if circumstances change. And a bigger property is a good idea for this reason as it brings a higher rental price if eventually you do decide to rent it out.

Read more: 10 budget summer holiday ideas 

But if you do plan to let it straight away, Bev Dumbleton, chief operating officer at Sykes Holiday Cottages, has some tips.  “Write a list of must-haves to focus on when you’re considering where to buy your holiday home,” she says, “in order to maximise the potential occupancy and booking value. These could include desirable location, proximity to local amenities, or good transport links.

“Think about what the property you are looking to buy can offer over other holiday lets in the area – does it have any unique selling points? Additionally, think about whether it has year-round appeal to ensure a steady flow of bookings.

“A holiday rental specialist can give you expert guidance on the area you’re considering buying in, what customers typically want from a property of that size and how much you can expect to achieve in rental income each year.”

Location, location, location

The demand for British staycations is soaring, according to Dumbleton, so now could be the perfect time to buy on home turf.

She adds: “Whether it’s the Cornish coastline, quintessentially English cottages in the Cotswolds or rugged moorland of the Peak District, each region in the UK has its own unique character and something to offer for every holidaymaker.”

If you plan to buy abroad, then think about the location, accessibility and proximity to the airport.

Research

Knowing exactly what you’re getting yourself into is vital when investing such a large sum of money. It’s common sense really, but also sound advice as it’s easy to get swept away with the idea of a holiday dream.

Make sure you follow the local laws on buying and renting out property. This applies to both home and abroad as places like St Ives in Cornwall have a ban on second homes to protect businesses from off-season quiet times.

Also, investigate thoroughly before you buy, especially when purchasing abroad. Check the vendor definitely owns the title deeds to the property and land or if it’s a new property, ensure the title deeds actually exist.

It’s also good to speak to other holiday home owners who have brought in the same area as they can offer good insights.

Read more: 8 things to consider about getting married abroad

Seek independent advice

If you’re buying a property abroad, there’s a guide at Gov.uk, along with individual guides for various countries.

If buying abroad always deal with an English-speaking adviser or lawyer. Choose them yourself and get written confirmation of what has been agreed in any negotiations. As well as always getting a paper receipt for any money paid.

Check that all utilities, such as water, sewage and electricity, are connected and that you will be able to use them.

Mortgages

It is important to look at and compare different products and services on offer from lenders before accepting any deal. Look for one which is most appropriate for your needs and pay attention to the interest rate and repayment period. Look out for fees for setting up the mortgage, as well as early repayment and cancellation fees. Make sure you fully understand the mortgage agreement you sign.

If buying abroad it is important to consider the impact of fluctuations of the local currency against the pound and how they could affect interest rate rises on repayments.

Tick all the right boxes

If you have decided to rent out your property, ensure your holiday home is a popular choice for families.

Dumbleton says: “It’s essential to ensure your holiday let is equipped with all the necessary amenities. We’ve found that high-speed Wi-Fi, garden space and off-road parking are particularly sought-after features, as well as dishwashers, smart TVs and homes where pets are welcome.

“Make sure your property is child-friendly. Make the most of any outdoor space with some garden games – features such as a swing set, climbing frame, trampoline or a Wendy house are always a huge hit with guests. Some owners also like to provide a dedicated games room.

“Also, consider potential luxury additions. Our properties with hot tubs, on average, earn 51 per cent more than those that don’t. Stand-out features like hot tubs, wood burning stoves and open fires tend to be received very well by guests and often encourage repeat bookings.”

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