1. Be clear before you buy about what you want to achieve with this purchase. Is it a home for you or an investment? Are you looking for rental income or capital growth?
2. If it’s rental income you want, know your market and the type of tenant you want. Don’t buy a family home if most rental demand comes from young singletons.
3. Organise funding first. Do you have the cash to buy outright or will you need a mortgage? If so, research funding carefully as long-term expatriates have limited financing options. Remember, UK interest rates are currently at a record low and will rise at some point.
4. Consider your tax position both now and in the future. Will you have to pay tax on rental income? And what about capital gains tax?
5. Budget carefully. Stick to the price you originally set. Don’t consider rental amounts without factoring in other hidden charges such as estate agent fees, stamp duty, letting fees, legal fees and repairs and maintenance.
6. Do your research. Never buy without either visiting the property yourself or getting someone you trust to do so. If possible view several times and at different times of the day. Walk the nearby streets to get a feel for the area and potential difficulties. Never buy a house you would not be prepared to live in yourself.
7. Make management a priority. How will you buy and manage to handle a property from 5,000 kilometres away? If you need to pay a friend or agents on the ground, factor in their fees.
8. Check your legal position. Ensure you have a tenancy contract drawn up professionally, and a full inventory of the property. Check the legal requirements for becoming a landlord, including gas safety certificates and tenancy deposits. Vet your tenants carefully and have a contingency to cover evictions.
9. Factor in the worst scenario. Can you cover the mortgage payments during void periods if your tenant doesn’t pay the rent?
10. What’s your exit strategy. How will you sell the property and when? What sort of return are you realistically looking for?