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Phillips International Lawyers Protecting your interests abroad

Choose Phillips International Lawyers and you won’t be paying twice. 2

Welcome to Phillips International Lawyers We speak your language Thinking of buying a property abroad or just started the process of buying? Then you should talk to Phillips International Lawyers. We are a team of highly experienced solicitors and overseas lawyers who specialise in helping people buy properties in just a select few countries. DENNIS PHILLIPS S O L I C I TO R A N D P R I N C I PA L

We have a major advantage over our competitors: we speak your language. Unlike some international law firms, we always ensure that your day-to-day contact is an English solicitor. So you’re talking to someone who you’re probably more comfortable dealing with and who can guide you through the whole buying procedure. What’s more, all of our team will speak to you in plain English too, explaining any foreign terms or complicated legal terminology. And there’s another very good reason why you should talk to Phillips International Lawyers first. As we said, you’ll be dealing with an English solicitor in the UK who works with experienced local lawyers overseas. But where some law firms may charge you twice for your legal work both at home and abroad, with us there’s just one all-inclusive fee. In short, we’re giving you double the legal support and advice, but not at double the cost. Choose Phillips International Lawyers and you won’t be paying twice. Finally, we’re also regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority. This means we are generally working to higher service standards than those of local lawyers, and you’ll also have the added protection of our compulsory professional insurance. So call Phillips International Lawyers today on 020 7198 7907 and talk to someone who speaks your language.


When to take legal advice. . . We appreciate from personal experience and the feedback we get from our clients that hunting for overseas property can be rather frantic. Therefore, we would recommend that you take a little advice as early as possible and, ideally, before you actually start looking. This can make the whole process smoother, less costly in the long run and much more enjoyable. But even if you don’t receive any advice before looking for your property, you should always remember this golden rule:

Unless you are prepared to lose what you pay, don’t pay anything without signing something and don’t sign without it being independently checked. Follow this rule and you’ll minimise the risk of making one of the most common mistakes when buying abroad and avoid any unwelcome surprises further down the line. In fact, one of the easiest ways of safeguarding your money is by holding some funds in our client account before you go on a viewing trip. This is usually an amount to cover the expected reservation deposit. Or simply instruct us formally before you go. Remember above all, we’re only a phone call away and can give you instant help and advice if you are being asked to sign anything by the developer or agent.


. . . and who from Certainly, we enjoy positive working relationships with many professional agents and developers selling property in the countries we deal with. Many are very knowledgeable about their country, the area and the processes involved and would be more than able to provide genuinely helpful advice. However, we are often forced to put up with the less scrupulous among them. It’s a quirk of our industry that a great property can be sold by a rogue agent or developer and the best agents can have properties with bad title on their books. And you’ll learn a lot about them from their approach to recommending legal advice. The worst of them will actively discourage you from taking independent legal advice. They’ll tell you that involving lawyers will slow things down and cost you more. They’re right if this means you’ll be spending more time and money to make sure that things are done properly. But would they be saying this if they were a substantial and reputable company with nothing to hide?

Others will often encourage you to use ‘their lawyers’, or perhaps their own in-house legal department or the lawyer next door. If these lawyers are directly paid by or getting most of their business from that agent or developer, can you really trust them to point out all of the issues we mention throughout this brochure? In fact, the best agents will carry out some of their own title checks before putting properties on their books, particularly before selling a substantial development or a handful of unusual properties. Although this can go a fair way to reducing the risks outlined below, the legal status of the properties they’ve checked can and often does change over time. For all these reasons, the best agents and developers will actively recommend that you take independent legal advice. Moreover, many will be pleased to recommend Phillips International Lawyers. Conversely, if their properties are right for you, we’re more than happy to recommend them to you. What’s more, if you contact us before registering with them we may even be able to secure you a discount on their properties.


At Phillips International Lawyers, we share your excitement and enthusiasm for each of the countries we deal with. We know they are great locations to spend time in and can offer you substantial investment potential.

Phillips International Lawyers Protecting your interests abroad

At the same time, you know as well as we do that things can go wrong and bring you all kinds of legal headaches or financial problems. So whether you’re a first-time buyer or a seasoned investor, you’ll want to make sure you’re getting things right. By reading this brochure we hope you’ll be completely reassured that by working with Phillips International Lawyers, you’ll have the best possible chance of managing the risks involved and ensuring that you’ll be amply rewarded by your overseas property. While some aspects of property purchase may already be familiar to you, some are likely to be very different and can lead to unnecessary difficulties. The following guidelines aren’t designed to replace our personal legal advice. But by having them to hand you can remind yourself of the things to look out for. In an ideal world, you’d pay no money at all to the seller or agent until the legal and other checks, often referred to as searches, were done and you had all your finances in place. This would be the only guaranteed way of ensuring that none of your money was at risk if, for instance, we discovered bad title, if planning or building permission for the property hadn’t been granted or if the person you are paying doesn’t have the right to receive your money and so on. But you’ll appreciate it’s very much a seller’s market and the best properties can go very quickly. Recognising that the checks and financing can take some time, you’ll need to give the seller some financial commitment. This will show that you’re serious but without risking too much before fully binding yourself to the purchase.


You’ll have the best possible chance of managing the risks involved.


What needs to be paid, what should be signed and when? Your step-by-step guide to the buying process Quite simply, the purchase process involves sticking as closely as possible to the following procedure which has evolved as the accepted best practice by many overseas law professionals.


You’ve found the property you like and you’ve agreed a price. You should ask to sign a Reservation Contract under which the property should be taken off the market for a reservation period in return for you paying a Reservation Deposit, typically £1,000 - £2,000 for a £100,000 property. It’s during the reservation period which is usually two to four weeks that we would carry out your searches.


If you want to go ahead with the purchase, the Reservation Deposit will usually form part of the price. But before signing the Reservation Contract, you should be sure what will happen if you or the seller pulls out, what would be a sensible level of Reservation Deposit to pay for a less or more expensive property and whether, in your particular case, the reservation period might be shortened or lengthened.


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Once the checks are done, we’ll give you a full legal report in plain and simple English - we’re all too aware that legal jargon is not only off-putting but can also lead to misunderstandings. Following our advice, you’ll hopefully be happy to proceed and you should only then be fully committing yourself to the purchase by signing the Preliminary Contract and paying a further amount typically 10-20% of the agreed price and, possibly the first of a number of payment instalments, if the property is a new build. You’ll often be asked by the seller or agent to pay substantially more at this stage and we’ll guide you on the potential risks and rewards of doing so.

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You should then usually expect to wait a while depending on whether the property is built or not, for official permissions to be granted in your favour or any other timescale agreed between you and your seller. If everything is in order, the Title Deed often called the Final Contract will then be ready to sign on Completion or Closing of the purchase. This is usually when the taxes and any other official expenses are paid . . . and you become the proud owner!


Because of the wait, we’ll make fresh title checks just before Completion to ensure that the situation hasn’t changed since you signed the Preliminary Contract. If it has, we’ll tell you what should be done.


When signing the title deed, you would usually pay the balance of the purchase price. In many cases you’ll have paid most of the purchase price before completion, but it’s still a good idea to hold some back until signing the Title Deed. We’ll advise you why and how much. This overall procedure can vary. For example, either or both of the Reservation and Preliminary Contracts may be dropped or fast-tracked before you sign the Title Deed. However, it should only be varied following independent advice as to whether this is in your interest, not just the seller’s or agent’s. And don’t worry if you’re not going to be able to be there in person to sign the Title Deed in the country you’re buying in. We will usually prepare a Power of Attorney which you can sign that allows trusted local lawyers to make all the completion arrangements on your behalf.


What legal checks actually need to be made?

In our plain English legal report we’ll give you the results of a number of checks as well as other issues you should consider before deciding whether it’s safe to proceed. Among other important things, we’ll be telling you whether: ✓ The sellers have the right to sell you the property. ✓ There are any financial or legal burdens registered against the property and whether these will be removed before you become the owner. ✓ It’s likely that, after completion, you’ll be asked to make any future (and otherwise unexpected) payments or, worse still, have your property pulled down if it was built without the appropriate permission. ✓ The contract is sufficiently thorough and whether it protects your interests. Or if it’s unfairly biased in the seller’s favour and what we can do about it. ✓ It’s safe to pay your money. In addition, further checks might be needed depending on the particular property you are buying or the area you are buying in. What’s more, other issues can often arise including: ✓ What to do if you’re being asked to under declare the price and pay ‘black money’. ✓ If you’re buying new or off-plan property, are your payments protected should the seller become bankrupt or otherwise be unable to deliver you the property?


In our plain English legal report, we’ll give you the results of a number of checks. 11

You’ll have the safety of knowing that we are registered with the Solicitors Regulation Authority.


Should you use a local overseas lawyer or a specialist UK solicitor? Of course, any independent lawyer whether in the country you’re buying in or UK-based should carry out the main checks we mentioned earlier. However, there are some key reasons why many people still prefer to use specialist UK solicitors. First, although our charges are generally higher than those of a local overseas lawyer, UK solicitors can generally offer better value. Secondly, and just as important, with a specialist UK solicitor you’ll have the safety of knowing that they are registered with the Solicitors Regulation Authority. As such, the standards to which we are obliged to deliver our service are generally higher than those of local lawyers and you’ll also have the added protection of our compulsory professional insurance. You won’t always have this protection with local overseas lawyers. And finally, with specialist UK solicitors you’ll have access to advice on tax and the best ownership structures available to you. Certainly, local lawyers may know about the local tax rules. But they are unlikely to have an understanding of the way these rules interact with your tax legislation back home. This is very important and, by getting this advice, you’ll very often save yourself many times the cost of our fees in taxes alone.


Why not let us protect your interests abroad?

Hopefully, you’re already considering Phillips International Lawyers as your overseas property lawyers. But before making your final decision, we’d encourage you to telephone our competitors. Explain the background to your enquiry and insist on speaking to whoever would be dealing with your affairs on a day-to-day basis. How long have they been dealing with similar matters? What are their standard fees and would you be paying any local lawyers they work with on top of their advertised fees? How good was their English and did you feel you could build a relationship with them? Telephone us and do the same. At Phillips International Lawyers you’ll be talking to an English-speaking specialist UK solicitor who works with a team of experienced local lawyers. We’ll combine our joint skills and expertise and offer you the best of both – but without you having to pay twice. In short, if you think we’ll handle your property purchase the most efficiently and cost-effectively, we look forward to working with you.


Instruct Phillips International Lawyers today

As we mentioned earlier, we would recommend to all potential clients that you take a little legal advice as early as possible. In fact, it’s probably best if you instruct Phillips International Lawyers before you actually start looking. This can make the whole process smoother, less costly in the long run and much more enjoyable. But if you’ve already found a property you’d like to buy, it’s not too late you can still instruct us today. All you need to do is complete the easy to follow forms enclosed with this brochure. Of course, if you would prefer to have a chat with us first without obligation, just call today on 020 7198 7907. As we’ve said, you’ll find that we speak your language.



Address for correspondence: 20b Elmore Street, London N1 3AL Consulting rooms: 24 Greville Street, London EC1N 8SS

" +44 (0)20 7198 7907 Fax: +44 (0)20 7198 7902 REGULATED BY THE SOLICITORS REGULATION AUTHORITY

Protecting your interests abroad ŠPhillips, 2007. E&OE. Nothing in this brochure constitutes legal advice. The information and opinions expressed within these pages should not be used as a substitute for proper legal advice, which we will be pleased to provide.

Phillips International Lawyers brochure  
Phillips International Lawyers brochure  

An international law firm specialising in the purchase and acquisition of overseas property