Inspired by a trip to Europe to buy a retirement or vacation property across the pond? When you get your plane ticket for the house hunting trip, you might also want to get an English-speaking lawyer overseas. Real estate transactions in Europe -- and the laws that govern them -- can be a bit daunting for the neophyte buyer from the States, and it's important to protect your interests.
Along with home prices, transaction costs vary from country to country in the amount and the types of fees that apply. They can include registration taxes, property transfer taxes, legal fees, notary fees and agents' commissions. Prices also vary based on currency conversions. (The calculations for this story are accurate as of July 22, 2010.)
Buyers may be able to benefit from housing markets that are still struggling in many parts of Europe. In its March 2010 review, the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors pegged Ireland, Spain, Greece, and central and Eastern Europe as having the most depressed markets in 2009. But in Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and France, the markets showed signs of stabilizing as prices edged upward.
Read on for more tips to add to your buyer's notebook if you're thinking about acquiring property in France, Germany, Ireland, Italy or Spain. Be aware that certain U.S. tax laws apply to U.S. citizens who purchase foreign properties. Consult a CPA who is familiar with these tax reporting requirements before making a purchase.