If you are considering buying a dream home abroad or simply investing in a desirable location where you can rent your property or relocate for good, then you must have looked at Spain as your top destination. Well, you were not wrong, as Spain continues to top the list for places to relocate or buy a property abroad.

According to iProperty Management’s research, Spain, which is already the top destination for Brits,  was the most searched for country, with 690,360 searches, 37,600 of which were from UK internet users. Following Spain, with less than 194,000 searches was Canada.

Spain is especially popular with Brits who made up 69% of expats in 2018. According to the data, those who want to invest in a property that will see demand from expatriates looking to relocate, should consider Spain. Among the top five, France and Portugal have also been a favourite location for Brits and the two countries saw 484,800 and 212,280 searches, respectively.

The interest in these countries does not simply result from the fact they are beautiful and desirable locations for retirement or for vacation. They are members of the EU and thus residents living in each of them are allowed to move and work freely.

 Spain is cheaper than London!

If you are hoping to get onto the property ladder, Spain is a good option. There are plenty of reasons for that as the number of expats in the Costa del Sol could attest. But beautiful location, gorgeous buildings, sunny beaches and good food can simply explain why you would want to settle there.

If you are buying property, the choice of buying within a gated community such as those located in the towns of San Pedro de Alcantara and Estepona, can offer security and peace. According to the Olive Press, a three bedroom apartment in Estepona  will cost around £200K, whereas the same amount could only get you a studio apartment in London, for example.

Places such as Marbella and Banus are also appealing due to the fact that they are secure and provide a great lifestyle. But also other areas on the Costa del Sol such as Casares Costa. Estepona, for example is only 20 minutes west of Marbella and is relatively cheaper than other more sought-after locations while offering a more authentic flavour of Spain. Guadalmina Ata poses a more pricey location where one can purchase beautiful properties exceeding €2 million.

For many Brits, and due to Covid-19 and Brexit, Spain appears to be the ultimate destination where they can retire and feel secure, while remaining part of the EU. Indeed, the number of Brits buying property in Spain has risen a lot recently due to Brexit.

Just looking at the data showing where Brits are registered in Spain, is indicative of the places and the kind of appeal they have for different age groups. The British community is concentrated along the coast, in Alicante and Málaga, and more than a third of residents are over 65. Madrid and Barcelona are a favourite among the younger generations who want to work and enjoy a more busy lifestyle.

Currency Exchange

If you are buying a holiday home in Spain, it is important to consult a specialist foreign exchange company such as Universal Partners FX right from the start. UPFX can help you manage currency fluctuations by locking the rate, as the final price of your home could vary significantly from the time you made your offer.

When moving large amounts of cash, it is best to get in touch with UPFX’s currency specialists where they can offer you competitive exchange rates and the best value for your money. Find out what your money is worth by giving them a call or requesting a free quote.

Brits buying property abroad and looking to experience that unique Mediterranean atmosphere, sun-kissed beaches, and European heritage have often turned their gaze towards the majestic Portugal. A great alternative to Europe’s overpopulated cities, Portugal has been the choice for many expats looking for their second home abroad.

However, with recent reports suggesting that Portugal will not be on the initial list of air bridges from UK, there has been a clamour from many tour operators and holiday makers alike to ensure that this is not the case come tomorrow when the list is announced. These demands may fall on deaf ears, but it highlights how Portugal is a real favourite amongst Brits as a holiday destination. This is for many reasons, first and foremost, Portugal is England's oldest ally since 1147 when English crusaders helped King Alfonso I capture Lisbon from the Muslims.

Famous for its national drink, port, beaches and dramatic scenery, Portugal is also an affordable destination, and the second best in value after Bulgaria. Younger generations have heard of the Livraria Porto bookstore in the Portuguese municipality of Porto, which has inspired the Hogwarts Library in JK Rowling’s Harry Potter books, while older ones are enthralled by its rich history, being one of the oldest states in Europe.

Portugal combines contemporary lifestyle with antiquated charm, and despite the recent financial crisis, the country has managed to recover, offering expats attractive tax and residency incentives and low mortgage rates.

Buying property in some of Portugal’s most popular locations

Whether you’re looking for a holiday home, your dream property to retire to or an investment, Portugal offers a variety of properties at different locations and prices. From Algarve’s beaches and golf courses, to Lisbon’s hip neighbourhoods and Porto’s famous wineries, Brits have many choices depending on the kind of lifestyle they want to experience and their budget.

Algarve’s property developments in such resort towns as Vilamoura and Quinta do Lago are sought after and expensive. A two-bedroom apartment can be up to €360,000 while a three-bedroom villa can worth around a million. Prices might be the same in Western Algarve, but, there, life is quieter as in the fishing town of Lagos where property prices range from €200,000 to €5 million. In the booming area of Eastern Algarve, properties can be cheaper, and you can find some attractive opportunities in the town of Tavira where country villas can be around €450,000.

Lisbon’s Blue coast, Costa Azul, is one of the most peaceful areas with such fishing villages as Sesimbra and Sines, most famous for its cuisine and seafood restaurants. Here, you can find five-bedroom villas ranging from €1-3 million or a three-bedroom house for €200,000.

Townhouses and apartments in developments can be a cheaper alternative, with the latter offering communal facilities such as pools and gardens with shared maintenance costs.

Financing your dream home in Portugal

If you are not transferring funds or re-mortgaging your UK home, you will need to consider your borrowing options, such as taking a Portuguese mortgage against a property. The larger amount of cash you deposit the easier it will be to secure a loan at a reasonable interest rate. You will need to also have in mind currency fluctuation as you will be better borrowing in the same currency you will be repaying the loan.

Currency Exchange

This is why, it is important to consult a specialist foreign exchange company such as Universal Partners FX right from the start. UPFX can help you manage currency fluctuations by fixing the rate, as the final price of your home could vary significantly from the time you made your offer.

When moving large amounts of cash, it is best to get in touch with UPFX’s currency specialists where they can offer you competitive exchange rates and the best value for your money. Find out what your money is worth by giving them a call or requesting a free quote.

The British Pound has fallen against its major peers as investors believe that the trade negotiations between the EU and UK will collapse and result in a no deal Brexit.

David Frost, the UK's chief negotiator, said to Parliament’s Brexit committee that the EU needed to change its position in order to reach an agreement that suits both sides. He told committee chairman Hilary Benn: “It’s their call.”

He also reminded MPs that the government did not intend to extend the transition period. As a result, the pound dropped, with the chances of a soft Brexit now looking increasingly slim. Frost said that Prime Minister Boris Johnson will be meeting in June with leaders in Brussels to try and push trade negotiations along.

Reiterating the rhetoric of hard Brexiters, Frost said that the EU was still grappling with the issue of Brexit: "The EU is still coming to terms with the fact that there's a large country in Europe that doesn't want to be part of the EU's structure in some way, or to work on EU norms, or to relate to the EU as the reference point of its activity.” However, as a Financial Times article put it, it is Brexiters who “still do not understand Europe,” arguing that the UK is “owed” privileged access and that Europeans are treating them “beastly.”

Pound to react to no-deal Brexit

Erik Norland, Executive Director and Senior Economist of CME Group, said that the pound fell against both the Euro and the US Dollar as the two sides reached an impasse regarding the “lack of progress on issues ranging from fishing rights to business-competition regulations." Norland highlighted the pound’s volatility in regards to Brexit:

"Since the referendum, GBP has tended to rally when it looked like a deal was close (+21% versus USD into early 2018 as then Prime Minister Theresa May held negotiations) and tended to sell off when Brexit appears to be headed towards the “no-deal” scenario (-16% when May’s deal was repeatedly defeated)."

He clarified that as we move into the next round of negotiations, GBP options markets are more tilted to the downside. He added: "Moreover, most of the recent spikes in both implied volatility and risk reversal have been motivated by concerns over the progress of Brexit negotiations. The one exception occurred during an incipient dollar-funding crisis in mid-March. After the U.S. Federal Reserve stepped in, that issued was resolved quickly.”

Brexit

As economists attest, the British currency’s volatility will continue and is expected to remain reactive to Brexit headlines, especially through June when the deadline for the UK and the EU to agree to extend the Brexit talks is due. The markets will react favourably to an extension, while the possibility of an impasse and no extension to the December transition deadline will lead to a drop in the pound.

The pound is also expected to react to next week’s final round of negotiations.

As we move closer to Brexit deadlines and Brexit-related news, the pound will continue to be sensitive. If you are worried about currency exchange and the value of the pound when transferring your hard-earned money overseas, get in touch with Universal Partners and their dedicated foreign exchange specialists. You can discuss your currency needs, get the best exchange rates and navigate the uncertainty that lies ahead. Do not let Brexit impact your currency transfers, maximise your currency potential with UPFX.

Spot Rates

The world of currency exchange can be a foggy landscape to explore for an outsider, filled with alien jargon and complex topics.

One such term that may fit into all three of those categories is the phrase “spot rates”. To help demist this hazy phrase, we’re shining a spotlight on spot rates to clear up any confusion.

What is a Spot Rate?

At its simplest, a spot rate can be defined as a contracted price for a transaction that is taking place immediately (i.e. providing the on-the-spot price there and then).

Spot rates are also sometimes known as “interbank rates” as they are the rate banks and large financial institutions – such as brokerage firms and credit unions – charge each other when trading large sums of foreign currency.

Calculating Spot Rates

Also known as the spot price, the spot rate is based on how much buyers are willing to pay and how much sellers are willing to accept, essentially reflecting supply and demand.

Spot Rates vs Forward Contracts

When discussing spot rates, it’s important to not confuse this with forward rates. Forward rates can best be described as the opposite of a spot rate, typically used to quote a transaction that will take place down the line at a future date, based on the predicted value at the time of settlement.

What is a Spot Contract?

A spot contract is the legally binding agreement relating to the spot trade deal, representing a sworn obligation to buy or sell at the rate agreed between the two parties.

Due to the immediate nature of the valuation, the spot contract usually dictates that a transaction occurs one or two business days from the initial agreed trade date. The date the transaction is initiated on is commonly referred to as the “horizon”.

Spot Rates and Currency

A foreign exchange spot transaction is where one party agrees to purchase one currency by selling another, at a specific price on a set date. This is sometimes referred to as an “FX spot”.

FX spot rates differ from the exchange rate you would see at a typical bureau de change due primarily to the volume of currency exchanged in business vs civilian usage. Think of it as the same way that wholesale prices differ from retail prices.

For more information on spot rates, why not get in touch today and speak with one of our foreign exchange experts? Call now on 020 7190 9559 or send us a message online using the button below.

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SEPA Transfers

If you need to send money abroad, the transfer process can sometimes be a bit of headache, particularly if you’re a novice and don’t know where to start.

After all, not everyone is a financial expert and separating acronyms like SWIFT and IBAN can leave many a civilian more than a little befuddled.

That being said, transferring euros throughout the European Union can be a fairly straightforward process, thanks primarily to the introduction of SEPA transfers.

What Are SEPA Transfers?

In a nutshell, SEPA stands for Single Euro Payments Area. A payment initiative of the European Union, SEPA transfers are specifically designed to simplify bank transfers denominated in the currency of euros and improve the overall efficiency of cross-border payments within the EU.

The aim of SEPA transfers is to make an international transfer of euro payments the equivalent to money transfer within your own country. Naturally, this is only applicable to participating countries, predominantly featuring those that comprise the EU, and SEPA doesn’t cover payments in currencies other than the euro.

Essentially, SEPA allows for smooth borderless payment within the Eurozone. For example, you could send money quickly and easily from Paris to Berlin much like you would a payment from Birmingham to Bromley, with no strings attached.

Payments typically take between 1 and 2 working days to complete.

Which Countries Participate in SEPA?

In a nutshell, SEPA stands for Single Euro Payments Area. A payment initiative of the European Union, SEPA transfers are specifically designed to simplify bank transfers denominated in the currency of euros and improve the overall efficiency of cross-border payments within the EU.

The aim of SEPA transfers is to make an international transfer of euro payments the equivalent to money transfer within your own country. Naturally, this is only applicable to participating countries, predominantly featuring those that comprise the EU, and SEPA doesn’t cover payments in currencies other than the euro.

Essentially, SEPA allows for smooth borderless payment within the Eurozone. For example, you could send money quickly and easily from Paris to Berlin much like you would a payment from Birmingham to Bromley, with no strings attached.

Payments typically take between 1 and 2 working days to complete.

Which Countries Participate in SEPA?

As of November 2019, the list of SEPA countries is as follows:

  • Åland Islands
  • Andorra
  • Austria
  • Azores
  • Belgium
  • Bulgaria
  • Canary Islands
  • Croatia
  • Cyprus
  • Czech Republic
  • Denmark
  • Estonia
  • Finland
  • France
  • French Guiana
  • Germany
  • Gibraltar
  • Greece
  • Guadeloupe
  • Guernsey
  • Hungary
  • Iceland
  • Ireland
  • Isle of Man
  • Italy
  • Jersey
  • Latvia
  • Liechtenstein
  • Lithuania
  • Luxembourg
  • Madeira
  • Malta
  • Martinique
  • Mayotte
  • Monaco
  • Netherlands
  • Norway
  • Poland
  • Portugal
  • Réunion
  • Romania
  • Saint Barthélemy
  • Saint Martin (French part)
  • Saint Pierre and Miquelon
  • San Marino
  • Slovakia
  • Slovenia
  • Spain
  • Sweden
  • Switzerland
  • United Kingdom 

Are SEPA Transfers Free?

Transfers between banks accounts in different SEPA countries should cost the same as domestic transfer and incur no inflated fees, despite the international nature of the exchange, as per EU regulations.

For more information on SEPA transfers or to make an EU transfer with Universal Partners FX, why not drop us a line today? Call now on 020 7190 9559 to speak with one of our expert advisors or get in touch online by clicking the button below.

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Despite Brexit, it is not difficult to see how appealing it will be to buy property in Monaco, especially when you are a millionaire. For example, pro-Brexit Ineos boss Sir Jim Ratcliffe decided last year to move to Monaco to avoid UK taxes on his £21bn fortune. With almost 35 in every 100 residents of Monaco being millionaires, British expats can feel part of the elite.

A staunch Brexiter, Ratcliffe offered support for the Leave campaign, but has repeatedly criticised investing in the UK when taxes were high but embraced his British roots when his business benefited from corporation tax cuts.

Ratcliffe sees himself as “a lover of Britain” but when it comes to business, “choice must be about head as well as heart.”

If you feel the same, and are choosing to buy property in Monaco consciously, then you can join some of the wealthiest people. UHNWIs (Ultra-High Net Worth Individuals) flock to Monaco for low taxes, but also for the quality of life.

In 2016, the Telegraph reported that Monaco had started a €2 billion (£1.8 billion) operation to reclaim land from the sea in order to build more luxury housing for the world's wealthiest residents. According to research by the estate agent Knight Frank, about 2,700 more millionaires are expected to move in Monaco by 2026, increasing the number of millionaires to 16,100 out of a total population of 38,400.

Monaco’s housing market

With its soft climate and location on Cote d’Azur, its glamorous lifestyle, and the annual Formula 1 Grand Prix, Monaco offers luxury with a high price tag; it is simply, one of the most expensive real estate markets in the world. So, if you are searching for affordable accommodation, to either rent or buy, Monaco is not for you.

However, anyone can buy property, as long as they can afford to spend €36,000 per square meter for an apartment. If you are looking for newly built houses, then we are talking about between 4 to 10 million and prices can increase depending on the kind of property and its location.

If you do buy real estate, you can browse listing sites and get in touch with agents. When it comes to the actual transaction, you will need to pay a notary to execute and authenticate it. If you go with a real estate agent, you will need to pay fees of around 3% (plus VAT) of the purchase price. You will also need to pay registration fees at 4.5% of the property’s market value.

The market is healthy, and the trend of building apartments is on the rise. According to Knight Frank, 50 new apartments were sold in 2017 at prices below €5m, with properties above €5m accounting for 23% of sales. In 2017, properties were around at €53,000 per sq m., while more premium properties can exceed €100,000 per sq m.

Buying property

Before signing any agreements, you should get a notary’s opinion no matter if you’re buying or selling.

Once you decided on the property, you can express your interest with an offer letter, outlining the details of the property, price and the time of transaction. The notary would prepare the purchase contract and the sale would be completed at the notary’s office with the payment, including the notary’s fees, transfer taxes and other related costs. If you are an individual, you will need to pay 6% in property registration tax, title registration and notary fees. Otherwise, if the property is purchased by foreign companies, they will pay 9%. The notary will transfer the funds and register the new owner at the registry of deeds. Owners of newly built properties or those who will build their own properties, must pay 20% VAT.

Universal Partners FX

If you are moving ahead with buying property in Monaco, you will need to discuss your currency transfers with a foreign exchange specialist such as Universal Partners FX. With years of experience in transferring funds internationally and a great team of currency brokers making sure that your funds are transferred safely and efficiently in your overseas account, UPFX are the ideal partners for your currency needs. Get in touch with them today, to find out how they can help you get access to the best exchange rates in the market.

Buying a property abroad can be difficult especially with the likelihood of a no-deal Brexit. But considering the advantages and disadvantages, and doing your own research wisely, you will be able to buy a property without throwing your life savings away. It will be good to discuss your property purchase with a currency specialist who will help you understand the market and offer assistance when making large or regular international transfers. This will be significant particularly due to the current political chaos in the UK. On Wednesday, Merkel gave the prime minister an ultimatum to find a solution with regards to the Irish backstop, as the pound slipped to low levels, close to the ones seen back in January 2007.

Brexit

In his meeting with Merkel, Johnson accepted the German Chancellor’s "blistering timetable" admitting that it was the UK’s burden to find a solution to the political deadlock. In his familiar humorous style, Johnson repeated Merkel's campaign slogan "Wir schaffen das," or "we can do it," causing laughter among the Chancellor and reporters.

In a Bloomberg article, it was reported that after Boris Johnson’s letter to EU officials, the French government now expects the U.K. to leave the EU without a deal, something that would immediately install border controls at the end of October.

The article notes that with Johnson becoming prime minister, EU officials believe that a no-deal Brexit would be the most likely outcome, as the UK “doesn’t have a realistic plan for an alternative to the backstop. The measure is despised by ardent Brexiteers in Johnson’s Conservative Party because it keeps the U.K. tied to many of the EU’s customs and trading rules, and Parliament has rejected the Brexit deal three times.”

Buying your dream or retirement home

Despite the political deadlock in the UK, if you have made your research and you are certain about moving abroad and purchasing your dream home, then there’s a few things you need to have in mind.

First, you should research the area of your desired property and find out the benefits of living in that neighbourhood. Are there any amenities nearby, is there access to the beach or the motorway, and generally, what is the atmosphere and feeling of the area and community? You will have to live there and, perhaps, in the future, sell the property with significant returns. So, trying to get the best deal for the best location will definitely enhance your investment in the future.

Make sure that you are not buying something you have never seen in person before. In the case that a developing company will take care of the construction of the building, but you have only saw the plans, do your research beforehand and find out whether the developers are reliable. Having a contract that guarantees that by the end of the project you will get what you were promised is the most secure way to safeguard your interests. Not only foreigners, but locals have fallen in the trap of buying a property but not the land is on, resulting in court cases and lots of stress.

Talk to the experts

From currency exchange brokers, to mortgage brokers and lawyers you will need specialist help when deciding to relocate and purchase a property abroad. In this sense, you will need to factor in costs for legal advice, taxes, notary fees, utilities, such as electricity, water, and gas connections.

Buying a property in France or Italy, 10%-12% of the property’s purchase price would go to cover government taxes and legal fees, while in Spain can go up to 12%-16%.

If you are buying property abroad, it is very important to go to a specialist such as Universal Partners FX. With the current volatility and weak pound, it is best that you contact a currency specialist as soon as you start the buying process, so that you get the best exchange rates possible and pay the minimum amount of fees. UPFX conduct in-depth market analysis, use state of the art technology and can offer access to the best exchange rates available. Get in touch with them today to find out how much you can save on your currency transfers.

Buying property in France or Spain has recently been complicated due to Brexit. For many Brits already living there, there are still many questions, a lot of them related to health and access to medicine. The possibility of a no-deal Brexit overcomplicates things too. Let’s see what a no-deal Brexit involves and what it means in terms of health for the many Brits who already live or want to move there.

What is a no-deal Brexit?

No deal means that the UK would leave the European Union (EU) without any agreement about the status of their future relationship. In a matter of fact, it would immediately be left out of the single market and customs union, and consequently lose its privileges of trading between EU members without complex checks and tariffs (on imports). But this will also have a massive impact on other facets of our lives steeped in European institutions and regulations. We will leave the European Court of Justice and Europol, its law enforcement body, and lose our membership of many other EU bodies including the European Medicines Agency (EMA) responsible for the evaluation and supervision of medicinal products. 

While Theresa May has strived to pass her Brexit deal through Parliament, a deal which would at least ensure that the UK would be guaranteed a 21-month transition period to organise the situation and have time to negotiate a trade deal, this is now not the case. On the contrary, with PM’s Boris Johnson’s declarations of leaving the EU with or without a deal, the possibility of a no-deal Brexit is back on the table.

No-deal Brexit

Leaving without a deal means that the 1.3 million Brits living in the EU are suddenly left in a very complicated situation. By crashing out of the EU, means leaving behind the institutions that have for all these years protected us and given us security, health insurance and various other agreements that benefited us and guaranteed our smooth stay abroad.

If you are going on holiday, the government has advised that you buy travel insurance before you leave. However, if you are living abroad, Spain has already agreed to guarantee continued healthcare access to tourists and British expats until the end of 2020, provided that the UK grants Spanish living in the UK the same rights.

In France, things are more complicated, especially for those that spend six months of the year there. Both British and French governments have advised British expats to apply for a Carte de Séjour residency permit, however, many prefectures have halted applications until Brexit becomes clearer.

According to The Local,  both governments are willing to come to an agreement on healthcare as many French people live and work in London, and many Brits live and work in France. Unfortunately, no bilateral talks can officially begin unless Brexit has happened.

For many Brits, the idea of facing medicine shortages and feeling totally helpless is a nightmare. Many have said that, diabetics are stockpiling supplies of insulin by giving themselves less on a daily basis” to avoid dealing with shortages in the possibility of a no-deal Brexit. As Euractiv reported, “many of Britain’s 3.7 million diabetics, who include Prime Minister Theresa May, depend almost entirely on insulin imports from continental Europe.The hormone, which is usually produced by the pancreas, helps diabetics regulate their blood-sugar levels. A no-deal Brexit would almost certainly mean re-establishing customs and health controls, which could lead to delays at the border.”

But as the UK, Spanish and French governments are willing to alleviate any problems and help European residents and expats get the healthcare they need, they will hopefully be no problems in the case of Brexit.

As you are deciding to buy property abroad and worry about currency volatility and political events such as Brexit that cause unpredictable market movements, it is a good idea to get in touch with a foreign exchange expert and discuss your money transfer needs. Universal Partners FX have years of experience in the foreign exchange industry and can offer assistance when making regular payments abroad and sending large amounts of money internationally.