Using international money transfers for real estate payments

Save money when buying and managing an overseas property.

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Investing in an overseas property offers many potential benefits, giving you the chance to diversify your investment portfolio and benefit from both rental income and capital growth.

However, if you’re purchasing a property overseas or you need to send money to another country to take care of ongoing management and maintenance, you’ll need to consider the extra costs associated with international money transfers.

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Let’s take a closer look at what those costs are and how you can minimise your expenses when making overseas real estate payments.

What are overseas real estate payments?

If you’ve decided to take advantage of the opportunity to invest in property overseas, you may need to transfer money to another country to:

  • Put a deposit on a home
  • Make regular home loan repayments
  • Pay a real estate agent to look after property management tasks
  • Cover maintenance and repair costs
  • Pay for renovations and extensions
  • Cover listing and marketing costs when selling a property

The cost of sending an international money transfer

Regardless of the nature of the overseas real estate payments you need to make, there are two additional costs you need to consider when sending an international transfer:

  • The exchange rate. This reflects the value of the Singapore dollar (SGD) relative to whatever foreign currency you are purchasing, and getting the highest possible exchange rate is crucial to ensure an affordable transaction. However, rates differ substantially between providers, so you’ll need to shop around to find value for money.
  • The transfer fee. Most of the time you’ll need to pay an international money transfer fee, which is usually a flat fee but is sometimes calculated as a percentage of your transaction amount. However, some companies don’t charge any fees on large transfers.

How to get the best value for money

Like so many other things in life, the key to finding the best value when sending an international money transfer is to shop around. You might be surprised to find just how much the exchange rate can differ from one transfer company to the next, while finding a way to minimise transfer fees can soon result in significant savings, especially if you send regular transfers.

Most people assume that the best way to send money overseas is through their bank. After all, if you’ve already got an account set up, it’s quick and easy to lodge a transfer request through Internet banking.

However, the unfortunate truth is that banks offer some of the lowest exchange rates around for international transfers. They impose a sizable margin on any currency they sell to you, which means the cost of your transaction skyrockets just so you can give your bank its share of the transaction.

This is why it’s worth comparing transfer providers before you part with any money. finder Singapore’s panel of online money transfer providers can offer fast, convenient and cost-effective transfers from Singapore to destinations all around the world. Because they’re 100% online and they specialise in all matters foreign exchange, they have much smaller margins than the banks and therefore provide superior exchange rates.

Online transfer providers also tend to have minimal transfer fees, helping you enjoy further savings.

Case Study

Jake business manJake is a Singapore-based IT professional who owns an investment property in England. He needs to send GBP£5,000 to his UK real estate agent to cover the cost of some repairs and minor cosmetic improvements that need to be made to the property.

After reviewing the mid-market exchange rate (the rate at which banks buy and sell currency from one another), Jake is disappointed to learn that the exchange rate his local bank offers to customers is substantially lower than the mid-market rate. He decides to compare his bank with two online transfer companies in an effort to find better value for money.

As the table below shows, both online companies allow Jake to save more than if he was to transfer with his bank. However, online transfer company B is the winner, providing a saving of $52.52 when compared to the bank.

Jake’s example shows just how important it is to compare your options before sending money overseas – even a quick comparison can save you hundreds of dollars and help turn an investment loss into a profit.

BankOnline transfer company AOnline transfer company B
Exchange rate1 SGD = 0.5384 GBP1 SGD = 0.54 GBP1 SGD = 0.54 GBP
Transfer fee$25$38.80$0
SGD needed to send GBP£5,000$9,286.78$9,259.26$9,259.26
Total cost of transaction$9,311.78$9,298.05$9,259.26
Money saved compared to bank$13.73$52.52

How to choose the right transfer provider

How can you be sure you’re choosing the right company to handle your international transfer? Make sure you keep the following factors in mind:

  • Obtain and compare multiple quotes. It’s quick and easy to get an online transfer quote, so compare the exchange rates and fees on offer from a range of providers. This will help you find the cheapest transfer option.
  • Make sure you’re checking the correct rate. Some transfer companies offer online currency conversion tools that calculate transfer costs using the interbank rate instead of the rate customers actually receive. Make sure that any quote you compare features the rate that will apply to your transfer.
  • Compare transfer speeds. Making timely payments can be crucial when buying or managing an overseas property, so check with each provider for details of how long the average transfer takes.
  • Look for flexible transfer options. Forward contracts and limit orders can help you get a better exchange rate for your transaction, while setting up a recurring payment plan for regular transfers can be a convenient time saver. Check to see which providers offer these services, and investigate if they come with any extra fees attached.
  • Currencies available. Take a look at a list of the currencies each provider allows you to transfer – are all the currencies you need to send included in the list?
  • Support and assistance. Finally, make sure that you will always be able to access customer support if you ever have a problem or question. From online learning centres to phone and email support, online live chat and even personal account managers, you need to be sure that help will be on hand should you ever need it.

By taking a few minutes to compare the strengths and weaknesses of competing transfer providers, you can save big when you send money overseas to manage real estate payments.

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