Have you always dreamed of owning property in an exotic foreign land? It’s an exciting prospect. Of course, dreaming is easier than actually buying. Purchasing property in a foreign country is a major decision. Here are a few basic tips to help you buy property in a foreign country.
1. Do you have permission to purchase? Quite a few countries, such as Switzerland, restrict foreign ownership entirely. There may also be restrictions on the areas in which you are allowed to purchase property. You must verify that you meet all requirements before you decide to buy property in a particular country. Consult with the U.S. State Department about the stability and safety of the country you are considering.
2. Be prepared for a long haul. Buying property abroad is not something you can do in a day or even a few months. It requires tremendous research and you must be ready to spend at least a year on the process.
3. Research. It is important to carry out as much research as possible on your desired area. Visit property exhibitions, surf the internet and read about the region in books and magazines to get as much information as possible. Many people have unrealistic expectations about the kind of property they want to buy. Research will help you get a good idea of what you can afford and the kind of property available on the market.
4. Visit the country’s embassy/consulate. Officials at the embassy can advise you on a number of issues, including work permits and tax issues.
5. Make an informed choice. Try to read local newspapers and/or websites. This will help you get an idea of the culture in the country where you wish to buy property.
6. Get your finances in order. Even before you physically check out the property, you must get your finances in order. This will ensure that you don’t lose the property due to lack of resources. Compare mortgages in your country of choice as well as the United States.
7. Set a budget. It’s very easy to be tempted to spend more for a property you’ve fallen in love with. But remember, the asking price is just the basic cost of the property. You will have to spend at least 10 percent more for fees, stamp duty and other unexpected items. You must account for these additional costs when you set your budget.
8. Create an emergency fund. You may need to conduct repairs once you move in. Be prepared by setting some money aside beforehand.
9. Set up a bank account. Before you start looking at property to buy, set up a bank account in the country. It will save you time and hassle later.
10. Learn more about the planning permission rules in the country. They may require special permission to renovate the property or there may be restrictions on what you can do while living there.
11. Ask around. Ask relatives and friends to put the word out. Perhaps there is someone who has bought property in your desired area. People who have experience buying property there will be able to inform you about the pros and cons. Try to find these people through an investment property forum.
Beauty 12. Be practical. Don’t be blinded by the property’s beauty. Consider the proximity of the property to local amenities. A grueling trip may mean limited use. Also consider the modes of transportation available. Will you have to buy a car to live in the area? If you plan to rent it out, think about the needs of your tenants.
13. Visit as many sites as you can before you zero in on one property. Visiting various properties will give you insight into the market and help you find out what you really want before you commit.
14. Learn the laws of the foreign government with regard to real estate. This knowledge will help you in case of a dispute.
15. Rent a home in the region to get a feel for the area. You will get a much better idea of how transportation, shopping, and leisure activities are once you have lived there.
16. Research on the Internet to know more about the project and the developer. On the web, you can educate yourself about the developer’s reputation, which will help you make an informed decision.
17. If you are buying off-plan, make sure that insurance and indemnity clauses are included in case the firm goes bust. This will ensure that you don’t lose your hard-earned money.
18. Be meticulous. Judge the project by the promoters. If they don’t inspire confidence, find someone else, even if it seems to be a good price. There will be plenty of choices; don’t be hasty.
19. Ensure that the builder has all necessary licenses to build on the land.
20. If the property is still under development, you must analyze the development plans. Ask the developer for plans with exact dimensions and check them against your requirements. At this stage, you can also find out what is included, like kitchen appliances, air conditioning and more.
Real Estate Agents & Attorneys
21. Beware of fly-by-night, smooth-talking operators. Avoid property agencies that set up stalls at airports. Be extra cautious of ”friendly” people in bars that promise to deliver great property at unbelievably low rates.
22. Local versus foreign. Unscrupulous real estate agents may quote a much higher figure than the actual price of a property just because you are a foreigner. The best way to ensure you don’t get cheated is to approach several agents for quotes. This will give you a better idea of prevalent rates. Also, ensure that you contract business with reputable estate agents: they generally do not discriminate.
23. Conduct exhaustive research about available real estate agents. While it may not be possible to visit the country to perform in-depth research, you can call and search online for information. Whittle down to a short list of agents to contact.
24. Talk to the real estate agents you’ve short listed, but don’t give them carte blanche. Agents may have ulterior motives. For example, some developments offer high commissions; the agent may push you towards these over others.
25. Try to gauge the agents before you give them your business. A good agent will always encourage you to give a detailed explanation of your requirements so that they can help you select the right properties.
26. An good agent realizes the value of time. They will generally show you properties that meet your budget and requirements. These agents should not try to show you properties that don’t meet your specifications.
27. Agents usually keep detailed records of the properties they deal with. This information will help you know more about the quality and history of the building as well as any preexisting problems.
28. An established agent can ease the process of purchasing a property. They generally have good contacts with key people in local and state offices, which enables them to help you navigate the sometimes confusing bureaucratic rules. They will also be able to guide you through legalities and regulations of the country.
29. You need a good attorney to ensure that the legality of the purchase is correct. You can consult with your real estate agent for a recommendation. Also try the U.S. Embassy or Consulate for a list of lawyers. A good lawyer will help you get your real estate contract notarized, registered, and if necessary, translated. Your attorney will also be able to advise you on protection against unscrupulous land deals.
30. When choosing an attorney, architect, engineer, or builder, ensure that you choose those who are based and mainly work within the geographical area in which you plan to buy your property.
31. Factor your attorney’s fees into your purchase budget. Fees can vary according to the total value of a property. You can negotiate for a lower rate, but remember: you get what you pay for.
32. You may have an excellent lawyer, but don’t rely on them completely. It is essential to do your own research.
33. Ensure that all agreements between you and your architect, project manager, builder, or contracted supplier are in writing. If there are any changes to the original agreement, it should be noted and signed by all parties. This will help in case of conflict later on.
34. Get a survey done. If you cannot get a local surveyor, bring a surveyor or a builder from the United States. This may be an expensive proposition, but they will be able to point out things you may miss.
35. Find out if the property you are buying has clear title. This will ensure that the vendor can legally sell it.
36. Visit the area at different times of the year. If you plan to buy property in a holiday destination, understand that traffic can be seasonal. See what your property looks like during busy and slow seasons.
37. Check the neighborhood. If you are looking for some peace and quiet, ensure that your property is not next to a nightclub or directly under a flightpath.
Dog_238. Meet the neighbors. Make friends in the neighborhood. If your property will be unoccupied most of the year, ask them to help keep an eye on it.