Amanda Lamb first hit our screens when she landed the role in the Scottish Widow advertising campaign way back in 1994. These days she's the loveable presenter of the popular Place in the Sun travel show. Here she gives Female First some top tips for buying property abroad.After working as an estate agent in her home town of Portsmouth for five years, Amanda became a model before going back to her property roots in 2001 when she landed the job presenting Place in the Sun where she has helped hundreds on Brits make the move to sunnier climates all over the world. Female First picked her expert brain about making the move abroad, the best and worst places to buy and where she would love to live herself.
Why do you think so many Brits are buying property abroad these days?I think it's the way of life. The sun, the sangria and things like that. I also think it's because we're getting more adventurous. The property prices in this country are going up at such a ridiculous rate so we're looking a bit further afield to see if we can get our foot on the property ladder abroad.
What advice would you give to anyone thinking of buying abroad?The biggest advice I can give anyone is get yourself some really good financial advice. The biggest horrors stories I have come across through all the years of doing this programme are from people who haven't got lawyers or that they've used their brother in laws friend to do it or something. Get independent legal advice. That's the number one thing.
The other thing really is just don't do anything abroad that you wouldn't do in this country. It sounds obvious but you would be amazed at the amount of people who don't do that and just hand over £20,000 to an estate agent they have never met before then can't understand why the estate agent has suddenly disappeared or they'll sign a contract in a language they don't understand without getting legal representation. So I think to get that bit up and running first is the most important thing.
What sort of research can we do at home?You can do all sorts of research. The great thing about it now is that 10-15 years ago it seemed like such an abstract concept but nowadays you've got so much more information on your doorstep. The number one thing is to start working out where you want to go and what type of property you want. Whether it be a two bedroom apartment on a golf course in Spain or a little farmhouse in France and once you've worked out what you want and where you want it look on the internet and start getting a really good idea about how much they are going to cost before you even set foot on a plane.
That's one of the things we see a lot in the show- people have very misconceived ideas about how far their budget is going to get them. So that's the first thing- get on the internet, watch the programmes, read the magazines so you've got a really good idea and also set up you financial services and your lawyer before you get out there in case you do see something you really like because in a lot of countries, like Spain, you need to set up a bank account. So once you've got that side of things sorted you can move on it quite quickly.
How do you make sure you get the best price?Once you've found somewhere you really like my general rule of thumb is knock ten percent off. I think that's always quite a good thing. But also talk to the agent and try and get as much info out of him as possible, like why are they selling, do they need to move quite quickly, have the been let down by another buyer , is it a divorce, so you've got a good idea of why they've put it on the market.
If you a property that is on the market at say £90,000 I would suggest going in at about £83-84,000 and probably expect to pay about £86,000. Having said that we've had people on the show that have put in ridiculously cheeky offers and they've been accepted so I'd say be a bit cheeky but not too cheeky.
Where would you recommend as a good place to buy at the moment?I think there are several places. I think every country has a sort of hotspot. For me personally I think Southern Italy is a good place. Places like Calabria and Apulia- the heel and the boot of Italy. We've also just come back from Spain and for people looking for investment opportunity there's a city called Zaragoza which is Spain's fifth largest city. It's kind of between Madrid and Barcelona and the prices there look set to go up quite dramatically in the next couple of years.
Are there any places to watch out for when buying?I think if something sounds like it's too good to be true it probably is. We have our favourites and our safe ones- Spain, France, Italy and Portugal- they're the ones that we've all been to before and we're comfortable with. The Eastern European countries- like Bulgaria, Poland, Romania- the properties are much cheaper there because the infrastructure isn't as set up as it is in Spain and France- so there is chance to make money in those countries but you just have to be careful if you do buy there that you get your good independent legal advice. As long as you've got that you shouldn't go far wrong.
Do you own property abroad yourself?Yes I own an apartment in a place called Nardo in Apulia- the stiletto heel of Italy.
If you could live anywhere in the world where would you choose?I could live anywhere it would be a place called Margaret River in Western Austrailia- about two hours south of Perth- it's just beautiful. A bit of a commute everyday though I think so that's going to stay a pipe dream for a little while.
What are you up to at the moment?Just finished filming A Place in the Sun and the new series will come out next year- February or March time- but I think it's January 3rd we've got £1 million special with Jermaine Defoe and his girlfriend so that's one to watch. I can't say anything at the moment so you've got to watch it but it is very Footballer's Wives. It's WAG central. An interesting one to watch.
Caz Moss- Female First