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ubsidised viewing trips are not carried out in the sort of volumes they were at the height of the property boom but they are still a popular means of researching properties abroad. Now buyers in the market are far fewer but more serious, such “freebie trips” are subject

of less controversy than they once were: and agents can’t afford to spend money on trips that are a waste of time. Not everyone feels comfortable with the implied obligation that comes with being on a hosted trip, whether agent or property hunter, so some major agents treat them as strictly business trips. They will pre-qualify potential buyers in depth to ascertain how serious they are. Some also don’t let buyers sign anything until they are back home, after a “cooling off” period so they have time and space to refl ect. However “old-style” trips of dawn-til-dusk property viewings, a boozy lunch and then the hard sell from agents do still go on, so be careful you know exactly what to expect of any such exercise. Of course when an agent has paid for your trip, understandably

they will want to plan what you do – and don’t – see. That can mean no rival properties or chances to fully explore the area at your leisure. The key is to ensure your expectations tally with those of the organiser, so if you want to visit other developments than those agreed with the agent or developer you need to be clear and in all likelihood this sort of trip is not for you. A developer can’t be expected to fund a trip for you to research and possibly buy from someone else. And certainly don’t go on a funded or part-funded inspection

trip if you are not at least reasonably serious - it’s a waste of everyone’s time and money and any expectation you might have of a free holiday will leave you disappointed. If you do go, you need to be clear what will be paid for exactly (fl ights are often part-covered or accommodation offered at a discount), and what does the agent expect in return and are you happy that the proposed schedule meets your needs?

If you know an area reasonably well, going under your own steam and arranging your appointments with agents gives you more freedom, yet trips organised by an agent can be a good way of identifying properties that match your requirements if you don’t know the area and don’t have time to explore fully. A sensible itinerary on an inspection trip will make the most of your time in the area with an expert – but not try to pack too much in as this may leave you confused. Will you require some spare time to look around yourself?

Would it be useful taking along a trusted friend for a second opinion?

Do your research before the trip, prepare questions to take with you, and make the most of viewings, taking photos to record things. It’s up to you to make the most of any trip, you don’t want to be getting on the fl ight home thinking of lots of things you wished you’d asked. In this climate it’s not uncommon for buyers to take several trips before they make a decision, sometimes staying for several days or weeks to fi nd the right home, so inspection trips can be a handy appetiser for the search ahead.


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