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Consuming Issues Friday, 13 June, 2003, 14:56 GMT 15:56 UK
Buying a home abroad
This week we're answering your questions on buying property abroad.

Barnaby Geib from Towry Law is the man we've asked to shed some light.


One viewer is selling up in Britain and moving to Spain and wants to know the best way of transferring his funds there.

This is quite a straight forward process.

In order to obtain the best exchange rate, I think it is worth looking at using a specialist currency broker.

Generally, they will obtain a better rate of exchange for your euro transaction than your local bank.

Brokers operate a client account and will exchange your funds at the agreed price as soon as they hit their account.

They will then forward the exchanged funds onto an account of your choice. Obviously, if you're moving to Spain then simply direct the funds to a Spanish account or indeed your solicitor's account if you're waiting to complete on a property.

Jo Saverton from Berkshire wants to know if he can get a mortgage for his house in the UK fixed to the European Central Bank's interest rate - rather than the Bank of England rate?

Unfortunately, it's not possible to fix your mortgage at the euro rate of 2% for the term of the loan. If it was we'd all have one!

Mrs Morton from Wilmslow is another viewer who's just bought a house in Spain. She wants to know where she can get the best exchange rates from ?

Generally speaking, it is best to avoid the high street banks. When discussing currency exchange, the age-old consumer philosophy of shopping around holds true.

The best deals are to be had from the specialist currency houses.

On a 500000 euro purchase this could represent a saving of 3000 against the rates you might get from a high street bank.

Gerry and Jayne from Belgium have sold a property in the UK and are moving to Spain - they have paid the deposit and need to complete by the 1 July. The euro is strong at the moment - is it worth them changing their money now or waiting until the last minute to get a better deal ?

I would not recommend that Gerry and Jayne gamble on currency exchange in this case, especially if they're already committed to a purchase.

They should look at their budget, look at the rates of exchange they can currently obtain and providing it is affordable then continue.

The nightmare scenario that may result from holding off is one where they are unable to complete because exchange rates go against them.

Failure to complete may result in the loss of their deposit which in my opinion is an awful lot to gamble.

The opinions expressed are Barnaby's, not the programme's. The answers are not intended to be definitive and should be used for guidance only. Always seek professional advice for your own particular situation.

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