Q&A

 

Has my sister missed the boat in buying abroad? My sister is a novice investor who feels she has missed the boat on foreign properties and wants to get in now. Having seen a ski development in Bulgaria at a property fair here in Ireland - off the plans for completion later this year - she is keen to buy.

It's a large studio for under €60,000 in what looks like a beautiful area and a major attraction is that the developers guarantee rent for the first two years, a figure that will easily cover her small mortgage. The sales agents are pushing her for a deposit, how can I best advise her?

Advise her to slow down and get all the information she can. A guaranteed rental can be a gimmick to lure novice investors with the cost of the rental built in to the sales price. Aside from doing desk work here - looking into the tax implications, legal costs involved in the purchase, commissions to the sales agents, etc, she absolutely should visit the area. That way she'll at least get to examine the locality and assess the competition. The key questions she needs to find out is whether the low sales price is comparable with prices locals pay for similar properties (we're known as a bit of a soft touch around Europe when it comes to property) and how lettable the property is. Two years pass very quickly and the skiing season is short. So how will she be able to fund the purchase when the guaranteed rental period is over? In areas experiencing rapid development, buyers rarely can sell quickly - because the competition from new builds is too great - so is she prepared to lock her money in for the long term?

Can I buy out the leasehold on apartment?

I am looking into buying an apartment and have been told there is 974 years left on the lease. But surely people in Ireland don't have leasehold property - can I buy out the leasehold in the same way I know my parents did in our family home?

Apartments are leasehold because you are not just buying what's behind the hall door into your own "unit", you are also buying a portion of the elements all apartment owners share - hallways, lifts, gardens, parking areas, roof, central heating boilers, etc. As a part owner of these additional areas you become a member of the management company (who owns the freehold) for the apartments and, as such, are responsible for maintaining the structures in good order and repair. This usually involves employing a maintenance company, hence the annual maintenance fee. An individual apartment owner has two legal interests in their apartment: as the legal owner of the dwelling unit (under leasehold) and as a part owner of the management company which owns the freehold.

Send your queries to Property Questions, The Irish Times, The Irish Times Building, 24-28 Tara Street, Dublin 2 or email propertyquestions@irish-times.ie. Unfortunately, it is not possible to respond to all questions. The above is a representative sample of queries received. This column is a readers' service and is not intended to replace professional advice. No individual correspondence will be entered into.