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Tips For Buying Property Whilst Living Abroad

buying property whilst living abroad

Buying property whilst living abroad is usually high on peoples agenda. However, some find the thought of this challenging and logistically impossible as there are a number of factors that need to be taken into consideration.

Guest post by Michael Cleary and Richie Ragel of Milk Chocolate Property Concierge (see their special offer here). 

Did you know on average expats in Singapore spend 12% of their day on real estate websites? Buying property whilst living abroad is usually high on peoples agenda. However, some find the thought of this challenging and logistically impossible as there are a number of factors that need to be taken into consideration. A lot goes into the purchase of a property, It’s not just about sourcing the property, you also have to work with a bank / mortgage broker to secure finance and then the other professional services such as conveyancers for all the legal matters, an accountant for tax implications, a managing agent if the purchase is for investment or a removalist company if you are intending to return home.

In this article we give some handy pointers to steer you in the right direction and also look at the pros and cons of the various options available to you.


Let’s start with some handy tips for buying property whilst living abroad.

Your Professionals:

Surround yourself with a tried and tested team to navigate you through the buying process. Your team should include a buyers agent if you choose to work with one, accountant, solicitor, mortgage broker/bank manager and builder (if required).

Your Budget:

The really important part. Identify your budget upfront and don’t stray from it. Work with your team to identify what this is, make sure you’re comfortable with the serviceability of any loans and stick to the number. Being firm on your budget will take the emotion out of the purchase. If you miss out, that can be a good thing; it means you are realistic and not over extending yourself. There will always be a property that comes up within your budget.

Be Realistic:

Understand the market and property values, have clear and realistic expectations. You’ll be amazed at the efficiencies this will provide on the purchase journey, as your focus will be on realistic and achievable markets you will have a much greater chance to purchase sooner rather than later.

buying property whilst living abroad


Whether you’re using a buyers agent or not, you need to know the property market like the back of your hand. From a macro to a micro level – it’s so important to have your finger on the pulse at all times. An understanding of growth markets, looking at historical trends, infrastructure planning, vacancy rates, demand vs. supply and auction clearance rates to name a few – are all key to a successful purchase. The same rule always applies, whether it’s an investment property or your new home – you will make your money on the purchase, not just the sale. If you are buying property whilst living abroad (and have been living outside of the country for a while), you may find the property landscape could have changed – areas that were once to be avoided are probably now hidden gems (or not so hidden).  See our review of the 2016 Australian property market and our forecast for the Australian property market in 2017.

Know Your Goals:

It sounds simple, but it’s often overlooked. You need to know what you’re looking for, create a list and use that list to stop the emotional purchase. Set simple and achievable goals and simplify the process by locking in the key wants for your purchase. If this is going to be your home, determine how you want to live in the property and the lifestyle you want to live. If you’re looking for an investment, what are your goals? Negative gearing, positive cash flow, long-term capital growth or adding value through renovations.

How do you plan on buying property whilst living abroad?

The Traveller:

We know a few expats, especially those living in Asia that will undertake the necessary research from home using real estate sites and travel back and forth viewing properties and sorting out the necessary paperwork. The advantage to this is you get to view your preferred properties and work face to face with your professional services. The disadvantage is the all the travel can become costly and given how fast the market is currently moving in Australia* it becomes very easy to miss out on great opportunities.

Family and Friends:

Then there are those that rely on their family and friends to do the legwork for them, searching, viewing and making recommendations. This is certainly a less expensive exercise, however you are reliant on their availability and skills in sourcing, negotiating and securing property on your behalf.

The Developer:

Lots of financial advisers and development companies will tour expat hotspots and make the process of buying an off-plan property in Australia exceptionally easy. The advantage to this is they basically do everything for you. If you are considering buying an off-plan investment there are a few pit falls that you really need to look out for which we explore in more detail in our latest blog ‘Buying off the plan, what you need to know before jumping in the deep end’.

The Hired Help:

Lots of time poor expats will enlist the help of a buyer’s agent to source, make recommendations and negotiate a contract for buying property whilst living abroad.  There are many benefits to using a buyer’s agent; they should know the market intimately, offer objective non-emotional advice, be your eyes and ears on the ground and take away the stress of purchasing a property from afar. Although there are costs involved these should be offset by them negotiating you the best deal, reduced or no travel costs and needing to take time off work. A good buyers agent should also be able to source off market opportunities that wouldn’t otherwise be available to you. The downfall is there are many buyers agents out there; ensure you are selecting the right one for your needs.

Need Help Buying Property Whilst Living Abroad? Check out our Special Offer below.

*Average days on market across the combined capital cities is 39 days

Sources: CoreLogic

Disclaimer : This information is for educational purposes only and does not constitute financial or taxation advice. As this information is not advice and has been prepared without taking into account your objectives, financial situation or needs you should, before acting on this information, consider its appropriateness for your circumstances. Independent advice should be obtained from an Australian financial services licensee before making investment decisions, and a registered (tax) financial advisor/accountant in relation to taxation decisions. To the extent permitted by law, we exclude all liability for any loss or damage arising in any way.  We may receive referral commissions from companies referred in this article.

buying property whilst living abroad

Need Help Buying Property Whilst Living Abroad?

Michael and Richie are both founders and directors of Milk Chocolate Property Concierge. They understand first hand what it’s like buying property whilst living abroad. As two former expats that lived in North America and Europe, they have been buying, renovating and selling property in Australia for the past 10 years.

Milk Chocolate is a bespoke property concierge business that exists to buy and renovate property on behalf of expats living abroad. We are a true concierge service, taking care of every last detail of your property purchase. Using the latest technology, data and communicating in your time zone, they  ensure the experience is rewarding and enjoyable one.

Mention the Australian Expat Investor when contacting Milk Chocolate, or complete the form below and you will be entitled to not only a free initial consultation to discuss your needs and to see if Milk Chocolate is right for you, but you will also receive a free voucher to the value of A$500 to treat yourself to a celebratory dinner in your country of residence when you sign up to use their services (and pay your initial fee).

  • Milk Chocolate Property Concierge Inquiry Form

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buying property whilst living abroad

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This article has been sponsored. Details of the sponsor of the article is contained within the article. The views expressed in the article are of the Sponsor and may not reflect the views of The Australian Expat Investor.

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