As specialists in international property transactions, we are often contacted by people asking if we are able to draft a Power of Attorney for the sale of their overseas property. This property can be located for example in Spain, Italy, Cyprus, Portugal, or Greece and normally the Seller wants to grant this Power to their Estate Agent to “handle” the sale and sign the Deed on their behalf. These types of enquiry have increased significantly during the present pandemic situation when clients cannot get to their respective jurisdiction.
What could possibly go wrong if I do not use a Solicitor?
Well, quite a lot actually. A very recent example involved a lady who had called us quite distressed and frustrated. She had sold a property abroad some 12 months ago but still had not received the sales proceeds. The Estate Agent had signed the Title Deed on her behalf but had not transferred the sales proceeds and was citing “Money Laundering Checks” as the reason for this. This understandably rang alarm bells. If there was Money Laundering Checks that needed to be done by the Estate Agent these could have been done prior to completion. Even if they were started after completion it would not take 12 months to complete. Everything that she told us sounded like the Estate Agent was keeping hold of the sales proceeds and was finding excuses not to return it to the client. The client had finally had enough and rang us to see whether we could recover her money for her via the Courts.
Is this a common situation?
The above example is an unusual case, and whilst the majority of foreign estate agents are honest and act in the best interests of their client, it does beg the question – why place yourself and your hard earned money at risk at all?. You would always use the services of a Solicitor to help you sell your property in the UK so why should it be different with your overseas property.
How can I protect myself when Buying or Selling an overseas property?
Whether you are buying an overseas property or selling your existing overseas property – the safest thing to ensure you are protected is to instruct a specialist international property lawyer. An experienced Solicitor will be able to – amongst other things – fully advise you on the sales contract, negotiate with the lawyer of the Buyer on the terms of the sale, and most importantly ensure the relevant proceeds of the sale/ purchase are paid to the correct accounts.
If you are considering Buying or Selling a property abroad, and would like to understand what we can do to protect you in the transaction, please feel free to call us for a no obligation discussion on 01438 840258 or alternatively send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org