Overseas property owners adopt ‘rent before you buy’ policy

Should the buyer then renege the owner keeps the rental fee. If the sale goes ahead the buyer has the rental fee reduced from the sale value of the property.

"This is an excellent way for buyers to fully appreciate the property," said Serge Cowan, MD Unique Living.

"It also allows owners to see some return should their buyer pull out before exchange. It must be noted however, that while a potential buyer is ‘renting’ he has to be aware that the owner may in some circumstances wish to continue having prospective purchasers view the property."

Two current properties available for sale and to let are a four-bedroom villa in Cannes, reduced to 2,390,000 euros from 2,600,000; and a five-bed villa in Marbella, Spain at 3,250,000 euros.

Cowan said: "The current downturn in the property market across Europe is presenting some exceptional opportunities for smart investors in a position to purchase.

"Since January we have noticed a high level of interest far in excess of the same period in 2008, but while some are making exceedingly good investment buys others are hesitating wondering if the market has finally ‘bottomed out’ or are unable to meet an agreed price."

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