Some Brits putting off moving and buying in EU

by Ray Clancy on July 20, 2016

The decision to leave the European Union has triggered some Britons to defer plans to move to a EU country or buy a second home in popular destinations such as Spain or Portugal, it is suggested.

But, conversely, many Britons are continuing with their planned property purchase and none really know if, or to what extent Brexit could affect the rights and overall experience of British home owners in an EU Member State.

House-For-SaleFor now, though, nothing has changed since before the referendum and until the UK Government officially triggers Brexit and negotiates new terms with the EU as a non-member, it’s business as usual, according to Richard Way of the Overseas Guides Company.

As a home owner in Spain he believes that the prospect of Brexit is an empty threat to a happy future as a second home owner to both existing and future property owners. ‘In the small resort where I enjoy time at my Spanish property, which lies in the just beside the picturesque Bay of Roses, people from all walks of life and of all nationalities, many of them non-EU citizens, have been enjoying life there for many years, moving freely to and fro,’ he explained.

‘Brexit or no Brexit, British people will continue to be able to buy property in European countries and live in them, just like nationals from non-EU European and non-European countries have done for decades, even centuries,’ he pointed out.

‘In my mind, I believe sufficient mutual appreciation exists between Spain and its significant number of British home owners to minimise the potential disruption of Brexit to British home buyers there, now and in the future, not forgetting the millions of euros that British tourists and homeowners bring into the Spanish economy every year. The same is also likely to be the case for other popular destinations with Britons, like Portugal, France and even Italy,’ he added.

Although expats and prospective expats seek answers to many questions nothing is yet totally clear. At worst, British expats may lose reciprocal rights to healthcare and other benefits. Part of the problem is the number of different scenarios that could happen.

For example, the UK could remain in the single market, meaning Britons maintain their rights to live and work in the EU, similar to citizens from Switzerland, Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein.

The UK could stay outside the single market, but negotiate terms with individual EU countries, such as Spain, leading to legislation giving Britons similar rights to those they currently have as EU citizens.

Or the UK could stay outside the single market, and Britons acquire similar rights to non-European nationals buying or moving there, such as Australians or Americans.

‘In the event of Brexit, we’d essentially be treated like any other non-EU, non-European Economic Area (EEA) citizens, Americans and Australians, for example. The worst case scenario is that this may mean additional paperwork for securing residency, potentially needing more paperwork in order to get visas, and this may mean a few more forms to fill in to own a property. Pensioners will also need to look in to healthcare contingency plans as an alternative to any reciprocal agreements that aren’t continued,’ said Way.

‘The best case scenario is that Spain introduces new rules providing British property buyers and expats with similar rights to those that we enjoy currently as EU citizens, so, in this instance, nothing really changes,’ he pointed out.

‘The other more unlikely scenario would be for the UK to adopt a similar stance to Norway and join the EEA, providing what are essentially the same automatic rights to buy a home, work and reside within EU countries that exist now. Swiss citizens already have this status in the EU, for example. So in this case, again, nothing would really change,’ he said.

‘What comes to mind looking at these potential scenarios is the fact that British homebuyers have not been deterred from buying in popular non-EU member destinations such as Turkey, Florida, Dubai, or Cape Verde and these destinations’ growing popularity is also reassuring,’ he added.

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