Getting to grips with a foreign country’s legal, economic and cultural systems can be difficult enough, but often the biggest nightmare is the language.

So, if you’re from overseas and keen to invest in UK property, how do you get around that problem? The best way to learn a new language is, of course, to immerse yourself in it (which is why language courses at university always send students off for a year to the land of their chosen language). Being older though, you probably can’t afford to spend a year in a new country – or maybe you just don’t want to.

So, having carried out some research with property investor colleagues, we’ve deduced the best ways to get to grips with English – and improve your chances of clinching those fabulous property deals – if you’re from overseas are to:

  1. Hire an interpreter. The last thing you want when trying to sign up a deal for a property investment scheme in the UK is to misunderstand the other person. Or, for that person to misunderstand you. If you feel your verbal language skills are a bit ropey, then it doesn’t pay (quite literally) to take chances. What you should be paying for though, is an interpreter. Look for one locally via a search engine, get a recommendation or contact the local chamber of commerce, who should have a list of interpreters in the area. Alternatively, search through a database of qualified interpreters via the Institute of Translation and Interpreting.
  2. Get documents translated. Once you have that deal agreed on in principle via an initial handshake, it’s time to sign a few papers. Again, the best idea here would be to call in the services of someone who knows exactly what the documents are saying. That’s where a translator comes in. He or she can provide you with a copy of the documents in your own language, allowing you to peruse them at leisure and run them past your solicitor or investment partner etc.
  3. Make use of translating software. You’ve probably already tried out the Google Translate facility for the odd word or sentence. However, for something important, such as legal documents, it’s a good idea to go with a more sophisticated software programme (some specialise in certain subjects e.g. legal, accounting etc.), if this is the road you want to go down. For basic translating though, as well as Google Translate, other free translation programmes include the likes of Systran, Prompt Online, World Lingo and Ginger Translate.
  4. Teach yourself the basics. After you’ve mastered typical greeting phrases and understand how much we Brits like to introduce the weather into chit chat, it’s time to fully understand the property investing lingo and legal terms/phrases for the property sector in the UK. From there, you can start to build up to casual chatter via face-to-face (or online) networking as time goes on. Remember, if you’re not sure of anything, then it’s fine to ask for clarification.