Close your eyes for a moment, and think of the most beautiful piece of property you could ever dream of owning abroad. A French chateau, a Spanish villa, an Asian beach hut, or even an English castle – these are just some of the possible visions that could have crossed your mind in the last few seconds. Whatever kind of estate strikes your fancy, you will need to know a few things about investing overseas. Here are some tips and bits of information that will guide you to the right path of owning that particularly fantastic corner of the globe.
1. Look at the big picture.
Before you get too excited and start letting everyone know that you will be moving to your new overseas home, or before you count the potential profits from selling that foreign investment, you should know that buying overseas property is not as easy as it may seem. There are numerous hurdles that may derail the smoothness of the proceedings, such as legal and tax issues, lack of reliable information on the local market, and other potential headaches. However, if you are ready to tackle anything that comes your way, then amazing rewards await you. International investments CAN be a boon when factors such as prime location, healthy economic conditions, and good business sense all combine.
2. Do in-depth research.
If you have your heart set on owning a second home or making an overseas investment, it is wise to learn all you can about a country’s regulations concerning foreign ownership and property rights. You must remember that some of those countries restrict foreign ownership altogether, while some have limited property rights. It will also do you some good to check the stability and safety of your target location. You might already be dreaming of decorating your future home in a place that is currently under siege! Economic climate and other demographics should also be a matter of consideration.
3. Seek professional help.
It won’t do you any harm to get some expert advice. After all, investing overseas is a huge deal, one that could be potentially disastrous, if the deed is not done right. You can enlist the help of a real estate broker, who will be vastly valuable in wading through unfamiliar laws and customs. You might even do better with a great local lawyer, one who is fluent in the native tongue as well as your own. Be sure to hire one who is also well versed in everything essential to iron things out, such as local laws, regulations, and procedures.
4. Hoard Cash
It won’t be as easy as getting a mortgage in some countries abroad. In some countries, like Spain and Mexico, properties historically exchanged hands when paid in cash. Even English-speaking countries and former colonies (like Hong Kong and Singapore) require at least 40 percent as a down payment, to kill any doubts of you jumping on the next plane and shirking your responsibilities. Again, detailed research will go a long way in figuring out what you can afford overseas. To be safe, assume that you can only pay in cash.
5. Double-check your title.
Unlike America’s warranty title which indicates you as the property’s owner, foreign titles might not be as clear and distinct. It really depends on which country is being referred to. Boundaries all across the globe have shifted; it won’t be so surprising if a long lost relative (e.g. someone who is seven generations removed from the original owner) comes back and claims the land that you have bought. Of course, the burden of proof still rests on the individual making the claim. To allay your fears and to reduce the risk, have a notary go over the title history to identify any gaps in the property’s history or countless property claims.
Investing overseas can be a potentially risky undertaking. However, if you do the grunt work of research, hire expert help, and proceed with caution, you will find that this undertaking could also be a thrilling and rewarding project. Go forth, and enjoy your very own piece of the foreign world!