The Cotswolds region is a very popular choice for Americans who want to retire to this very special area of the UK or for those wanting an English summer holiday home.
Walter Wentz, from California decided to retire to the Cotswolds some 15 years ago and this is an article that may help others back in the USA.
See Walter's article about 'Living in a 400 year old Cotswold Cottage'.
For further articles written by Walter please go to - www.cotswolds.info/american-blog/
AMERICANS BUYING PROPERTY
IN THE COTSWOLDS
FIRST: FIND IT
This is not so easy as places like California where they have a system of sharing all listings amongst real estate agents participating in the mutual-listings program, which is about all of them. You have to go from agent to agent to learn what is on offer.[www.cotswold-properties.com may be about to change this.] There are other web sites coming along that are moving the industry in the mutual-listing direction. Give them a try.
Another problem is that the estate agents here are nowhere near as aggressive as those in the U.S.. In fact, they are amongst God's laziest children. Don't depend on them to call you just because they have recorded a few of your details and noted what you are looking for. Also, do not trust them. I do not know if it is ignorance, stupidity, or dishonesty, but the result is the same.
SECOND: BUY IT
Once you and the seller of your dream house have 'agreed' a sale, that does not make it a done deal. The English do not have escrow and a sale is not complete until 'contracts are exchanged'. The contracts will be exchanged by the two solicitors (lawyers). Yes, you and the seller will both have to engage a solicitor. 'Sorry about that. [I believe they have an escrow system in Scotland.]
Note: Do not accept the asking price - HAGGLE! Few sellers expect to get the full price.
Up to the point where you and the seller have both instructed your solicitors to exchange contracts, either party can bail out without penalty. So, take nothing for granted and stay in close touch with both the estate agent and the solicitor.
THIRD: PAY FOR IT
Until just recently, mortgage money has come easy. When I purchased my house I was able to get a generous mortgage, at a fixed rate (5.5%) to start, reverting to the going variable rate after three years. I was also able to get an interest-only loan where I pay nothing against the principle. [I did this believing the exchange rate, pounds-to-dollars, would improve in favour of the dollar. Then I voted for Bush. 'Big mistake.
House prices have inflated dramatically the past ten years under the Labour government. They have become especially silly in London and the Cotswolds. When the resultant bubble will burst is anyone's guess. Economists cannot agree, but then again economist can never agree. [God gave us economists to make gypsy fortune-tellers look respectable.]
As a foreigner, you should have no trouble buying property once your financial status has been confirmed. However, owning property in the U.K. does not mean you can stay in the U.K. Getting a resident visa is an entirely different and unrelated matter.
Well, good luck.
Walter and Charlie