It used to be that owning real estate for an investment or retirement purpose meant tying to find the best deal possible on a place downtown, but with the way the U.S. housing market is going, more and more people are deciding to buy real estate overseas. Really, who could blame them? Combine the lush tropical environments of many overseas destinations with the lower cost of living and what you end up with is a no-brainer. So how do you go about buying real estate overseas?
You have to remember that buying real estate overseas is not like buying here in the U.S. and as the old saying goes, "We’re not in Kansas anymore." Here are the five steps that are vital to ensure your overseas real estate purchase goes off without a hitch:
Get the lay of the land. Before you decide where it is overseas that you want to buy your real estate you need to know a few things about the country first. You should always visit the area you are considering buying into and more importantly you need to find out how safe the area is. Speak with the U.S. State Department and find out how safe and stable the country you are considering is. You should also find out what, if any, foreign ownership restrictions there are.
Call in the cavalry. Buying real estate overseas is not something that should be tackled alone. If you are serious about a purchase, you will need to enlist the help of an experienced international real estate broker or agent. They will know all the local customs and laws and will thus be able to help you with a smooth transaction.
Cash is king. Many countries that are popular overseas do not have a lot of mortgage and finance opportunities so you should count on paying cash for whatever it is you are looking for. If you can’t pay cash, seek out an English speaking country first as they may have more to offer in the way of financing options.
Check your title. In the U.S. you get a warranty title that states you are the owner of the property, but it is not always so cut and dry overseas. Sometimes boundaries can ‘shift’ and if that has occurred without your knowledge, then a sixth generation person can come along and try to lay claim to the land you bought. This can be avoided by enlisting the help of a local notary who can go through the title history to be sure there are no gaps in the properly history or any types of claims on the property.
Grease a few palms. In the U.S. greasing palms, or bribing, is strictly a real estate no, no, but in other countries it is a way of business life. These bribes will be in the form of ‘gifts’ and your international real estate broker or agent should be able to tell you just how many ‘gifts’ you can expect to dole out in order to ensure a smooth and quick transaction.
While buying real estate overseas could truly be your ticket to paradise, you should also be aware that the road to that paradise is a bumpy one so you need to be sure that you go down it just the right way.
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