If you are looking to invest in overseas markets, property in Europe is likely to be high on your list of considerations. There is good reason for this – Europe is a stable continent, with many wonderful opportunities available – but there is a hidden downside you need to be aware of: the intricacies of buying property on the European continent can be a little… complicated.
“Bizarre in what way?”
Well, first and foremost, the rules for the buying and selling of property differ across the continent. While investors tend to think of “Europe” as a single region, what applies in one European country will not apply in another – which can make investing very difficult to grasp.
“Isn’t all of Europe united in the EU?”
No; many major countries, such as Norway, are not in the EU, though they are in the European Economic Area (EEA). Other countries, such as Albania, are not in the EU or the EEA. Then there’s the UK. At present, the UK is scheduled to leave the EU entirely in March 2019, but no one is entirely sure what is going to happen when this occurs – the political debate is still ongoing.
However, even for countries who are in the EU (and will be remaining in the EU in future), the rules for buying and selling property are very different, and the housing markets different one another again.
“Why is that?”
Every country in Europe is a sovereign nation, including those that are full members of the EU. This means they have their own laws, their own economies, their own tax levels, and their own regulations for the buying and selling of property. The majority of EU legislation is focused on protecting health and safety rather than economic policy, so each country retains their own control over these areas.
“What does this mean for investors?”
Be cautious when planning your real estate investments, essentially. You should always begin by looking for news and information on Europe’s real estate investment market as a whole, as this helps to provide a general snapshot of how the continent is performing, and which countries are performing particularly well.
From there, you then need to research the specific country you are considering; learn their individual laws, regulations, and how they function. If you then choose to invest in another country, you’ll need to repeat the process; some of the countries have similar laws, but others are vastly different, so each needs to be approached individually.
“Isn’t the EU meant to make life easier?”
Yes, and in many ways, it does; for example, if you invest in France and then in Germany, you’ll use the same currency for both.
However, it’s important to note that even with the EU and the EEA, all countries in Europe retain their independence.
Investing in European property is likely to be a wise choice, provided you research both the overall European landscape and the individual countries you are considering individually. With this dual-pronged approach, you’re likely to find that European real estate investment is a viable choice, and one that greater benefits your overall portfolio.