Funding your overseas property purchase guide

Gabriela Peratello

Wondering how to transfer money overseas to buy property? No matter where in the world you’re buying a new place, you’ll want to find a fast, safe and low cost way of getting your money where it needs to be.

This guide covers all you need to know about how to transfer money to buy a property overseas. We’ll cover a few smart alternatives, and also introduce Wise for when you want to send money overseas without inflated exchange rates.

📑 Table of Contents

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What to consider when choosing your money transfer provider?

With a major purchase like an international property, finding the right payment solution for your needs can make a big difference. By getting a good exchange rate and minimizing fees you could save on your international property down payment, purchase — and of course all the other one off and ongoing expenses like closing costs and property taxes.

Let’s look at some factors to consider when you’re researching the best ways to send money overseas for your property purchase.

Regulations

Sending international payments is — rightly so — a tightly regulated affair. Regulations keep your money safe, and can be imposed by your home country as well as the country you’re sending money to.

Firstly it’s worth making sure your preferred providers are properly regulated. If you’re using a US based provider that probably means finding one which is authorised by FinCEN.

If you’re using a provider elsewhere, check if the provider is safe and licensed in the region it operates in — and then take a look at any practical implications of the regulations which apply to your payment.

For example, you’ll almost certainly need to create and verify an account with your provider before sending money. This will usually require you to provide documents showing your identity and address. For some destination countries, you’ll also be asked for proof of the source of funds being sent.

Exchange rate

The exchange rate is always important when sending money overseas — but it’s really significant when transfer values are high. Get a bad rate and you could end up paying way more than you need to.

Use a reputable currency converter tool to get the mid-market exchange rate for the currency you’re sending to. This is the rate used for large transactions on wholesale markets — and usually the best available. Compare the rate you’re offered by different providers against the mid-market rate to see if there are any fees added here. Or choose a provider like Wise which always uses the mid-market rate with no hidden fees.


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Transfer limits: can you send large amounts?

Transfer limits can be set by providers and destination countries. If you’re sending a large payment you’ll need to double check if it’s possible with different providers. Some may allow you to send high values only if you provide extra verification documents to support your transfer.

Transfer speed: will your money arrive when you need it?

When you’re buying an international property the chances are that you’ll need to send payments for your deposit and to close the sale directly to a bank accoun. The length of time that takes can vary widely by provider, based on the way they process cross border transfers.

Typically banks and many traditional international payment providers use the SWIFT network to process transfers. That’s safe and reliable, but also slow and expensive. Other providers use more modern systems which cut out some of the intermediaries involved in sending payments. They’re still secure and properly regulated, but because they cut out some of the middlemen, they may be able to get your money where it needs to be faster.

Make sure you’re clear on the estimated delivery time for your transfer when you select your provider.

Can you make recurring payments?

Finally, owning international real estate is going to mean ongoing costs. That may be a mortgage, property taxes or maintenance costs for example. Finding a reliable and cheap payment service which also lets you schedule recurring payments can save you a lot of time and hassle in future.

Pick your fighter: what’s the best international money transfer option for you?

Let’s look at the key options you have when sending money overseas to buy a property — and some pros and cons:

ProsCons
Bank
  • Familiar
  • Face to face service available
  • You may be able to send your payment using online banking
  • Exchange rates may include a markup
  • Fees are often fairly high and complex
  • Third party charges can apply
Broker
  • Foreign exchange specialists
  • More complex FX services like forward exchange contracts may be available
  • Usually available online, in app or by phone
  • You’ll probably need to create and verify an account
  • Services vary widely by provider
  • Exchange rates usually beat banks — but may not be the cheapest available
Transfer provider
  • May be cheaper and faster than a bank
  • Specialist providers have a broad currency range
  • Usually available online, in app or by phone
  • You’ll need to create and verify an account
  • Many transfer providers don’t offer face to face service
  • Fees, rates and transfer times vary by provider

Get a money transfer provider

Specialist money transfer providers are often the best value way to send an international payment. They're specialist providers, so while they’re usually regulated like banks are — making them safe — they may well be more convenient because sending money is their core function.

Different money transfer providers process payments in different ways. But some, like Wise, have their own payment networks to facilitate transfers faster and for lower overall costs. Because you avoid SWIFT there are no third party charges to worry about, either.

Quick, secure and transparent transfers. Meet Wise

Wise international payments are set up online or in the handy Wise app, and always use the real mid-market exchange rate and low, transparent fees. That means you can save significantly compared to using your normal bank or an alternative service.

Make a one off transfer to cover the costs of buying your international property, or open a Wise Multi-currency Account to manage your recurring payments, and get the best exchange rate available every time.

🚀 Create a free account in minutes

Use an international broker

International brokers offer specialist foreign exchange services, often online or by phone. Exchange rates may include a markup — and if your payment will ultimately be processed on the SWIFT network third party fees may also apply.

You could choose to use a specialist broker to send your international payment in a number of ways, depending on the provider you select. Some offer a range of transfer options, such as forward exchange contracts which allow you to lock in exchange rates for a period of time.

That means you don’t run the risk of needing to pay more than expected if the exchange rates move before your payment is processed. However, they also mean you won’t benefit if the rates change in your favor before your payment clears.

Send money from your bank

You’ll probably be able to send your payment directly from your own bank if you’d like to. This is a familiar option but may not be the cheapest or most convenient.

Most banks offer international wire payments — but there will be a fee to pay, and traditional banks don’t always offer the best exchange rates. You may well also need to pay third party costs if your transfer is processed on the SWIFT network.

Depending on your own bank’s processes you might have to visit a branch to arrange your payment.

Still in doubt? Check the comparison table below

The true cost of sending USD to GBP

Costs to consider when getting an overseas property

Buying a home overseas takes a lot of planning and consideration. Here are a few pointers to get you thinking.

Planning the purchase

The costs of buying a home vary internationally — not just in terms of the price of the real estate itself, but the fees and charges that come along with a major purchase like this. The way costs are split between the seller and the ultimate buyer may also be different in different locations.

Do your research in advance, and get local professional advice where you can. In popular destination countries there are often real estate agents who are specialists in supporting expats buying overseas property.

You’ll pay a fee for their services — but you can get some reassurance that you understand the process and costs of buying your new home fully before you get started.

Maintaining the property

Whether you’re buying as an investment, vacation home or a place to live yourself year round, there will be maintenance costs to consider. Remember that the costs of labor and the availability of materials can vary significantly by location when you’re preparing your budget.

In case you’re not living in the property year round you may also decide to invest in security — which will come with a fee.

💡 If you’re buying international real estate you could save with Wise international payments. Get mid-market exchange rates, schedule recurring transfers, and only ever pay low, transparent fees.

Get a free Wise account

Taxes

Property taxes vary widely between countries, and may include both one off taxes you pay when you close the purchase, and a range of ongoing costs. Property taxes may be levied at both a national and local level, too — so you’ll need to do your research thoroughly to know what to expect. Getting professional tax advice from a local expert can be invaluable.

🎯 Tips for purchasing property overseas
  • Keep an eye on the exchange rate for your destination — even small fluctuations can change the overall costs significantly
  • Make sure you know local standards when it comes to real estate fees and who pays them
  • Get to know the one off taxes you’ll need to pay, and any ongoing rates or taxes due
  • Be wary of fraudsters — if it seems too good to be true it probably is
  • Pay for professional local advice when you can — you could save time and money in the end

Good luck in finding the international property of your dreams. And when you do, take a look at Wise international payments to save money when you buy.


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This publication is provided for general information purposes and does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from Wise Payments Limited or its subsidiaries and its affiliates, and it is not intended as a substitute for obtaining advice from a financial advisor or any other professional.

We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether expressed or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date.

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