Monthly Wrap: Things to consider when renovating a property abroad

Currencies Direct January 27th 2023 - 3 minute read

Have you ever dreamt of owning a home in a hidden corner of Europe? Maybe a small cottage in Italy, chateau in France, or villa in Spain? You’re probably thinking, ‘in this economy?’

What if we told you, it’s not as farfetched as you think? If you are open to the challenge of doing up a ‘fixer upper’, you could find you can stretch your money a little more.

Of course, there’s certain things you’d need to consider, like budget, location and amount of work required. This article covers the basics of what goes into buying and fixing up a property abroad.

Make a realistic budget

Budgeting effectively is crucial to the success of your renovation. A property may initially seem like a bargain but if you are going to have to spend a huge amount on making it liveable then you may find that any perceived savings quickly evaporate.

Things to consider when working out your budget include materials, travel expenses and how much work you’ll be doing yourself, versus the contractors you’ll hire.

If your aim is flip the property, it’s important to take stock of the average price of houses in your location. You don’t want to spend to find that the amount you have put into fixing up a property won’t be recouped when it comes to selling.

Ensure you aren’t buying a dud

It’s key to thoroughly check the condition of a property before signing on the dotted line. The foundation of the building, structural support and a house’s frame should be on the top of the checklist.

When it comes to a fixer upper as long as a building is structurally sound then you’re on to a winner. If you’re buying the house at auction there is likely to be a list of issues, which you can consult before purchase. However, it’s also a great idea to hire a surveyor to do the checks for you, so everything is covered.

Getting help

Hiring contractors to help with the renovations can be expensive but often unavoidable if you’re property is abroad. The likelihood is you can’t stay in the country for long stretches. If that’s true, then the contracting team you hire could potentially make or break the project.

It goes without saying that you should hire a team with a good reputation with the locals. If you can’t be there, make sure you’re always kept in the loop about the reservations. Bear in mind that there could be a language barrier, so hiring a translator may also be necessary.

The finishing touches

Odds are if you’re buying a ‘fixer upper’ the exterior isn’t going to look pristine. Whilst it would be nice to fix the garden and give the house a fresh coat of paint, its not always a priority at first. However, when it comes to adding your finishing touches on your home, its worth investing the time and money.

If you can, buy window, doors and other materials that will increase the property’s value. This way, in the long run you get a better return on your investment. The new interior can only do so much if the houses overall houses curb appeal is lacklustre.

Are you selling, or renting or staying?

This is a good question to keep in mind, as it could influence the way you renovate your property.

If you intend to live in the property, then you can do whatever you want. However, if you’re considering renting or selling then a little more thought might be required during renovation.

For example, if you’re house is based in Europe where renting is more popular, you may want to furnish the house differently, or put security measures in. If, however, you want to flip the house to immediately cash in your profits, you might favour keeping the property a blank canvas for the new owner.

Not sure what you want to do? That’s okay. Turn to the local housing market. This way you can figure out the return you’d get from renting versus selling your property.

Saving money when purchasing a property abroad

To ensure you make your money go further when purchasing a property abroad, ensure you always explore your currency options.

Currencies Direct’s excellent exchange rates and fee-free transfers can help stretch your budget a little further than when transferring your money via your high-street bank.

We also offer a range of additional tools which can help you to maximise the returns on your transfers.

For instance, with a Forward Contract you can fix an exchange rate for up to a year. While you may miss out if an exchange rate improves, this will protect you from any adverse movement when going through the often lengthy process of purchasing a property.

See how we can get you the best exchange rates by contacting one of our friendly currency advisors today on +44 (0) 20 7847 9400 or via

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