Monday, 2 June 2008

A Guide to Buying Property Abroad

by Sarah Scrafford 

It’s extremely easy to make mistakes that have severe financial consequences when buying and selling real estate, more so when the property you have your eyes on is located overseas. Here are a few things to consider before finalizing the papers on that home or piece of land abroad: 

  • Don’t believe all that you hear or read about the property. It’s wise to make a couple of visits and go over the place before you even think of buying.
  • Deal only with agents who are authorized and legit.
  • Check if the seller is within his rights to sell that particular property to you – you don’t want to be caught on the wrong foot paying good money for property that’s caught up in a legal wrangle or other problem.
  • Familiarize yourself with that particular country’s real estate laws and if possible, find a good local lawyer who can guide you through the process.
  • If you plan to renovate, go through the planning permission rules with a fine-tooth comb to make sure you don’t breach any laws.
  • Open a bank account local to the country you’re buying property in. It eases your financial transactions.
  • Your country’s embassy can help in educating you about local taxes and work permits.
  • Don’t rush the process – take as long as you can to make sure you’re not given the short end of the stick.
  • Make sure you’re not quoted a higher rate just because you’re a foreigner.
  • Retain an alternative housing arrangement in case the deal falls through.
  • In case you’re paying for a house that’s yet to be built, ensure that your insurance is in order.
  • If the company you’re buying the property from is a member of the Federation of International Property Developers, it’s an added plus point.
  • The rules and regulations governing foreign property purchases vary from country to country.  
  • Talk to other fellow countrymen who have bought property in the same country to get information, views and opinions.
  • Don’t buy property overseas just because there’s a current housing boom and you hope to cash in later.
  • If you think a deal is too good to be true, check it out again and again until you’re sure there are no loopholes. 

Investing in property is a financial decision that can either pay rich dividends or get you deep in the red, depending on how wise (or foolish) you are. So be informed, be savvy, and be careful when buying property in a foreign country.  

About Sarah:  

Sarah Scrafford is an industry critic, as well as a regular contributor on the subject of entrepreneurship. 

She invites your questions, comments and freelancing job inquiries at her email address. To contact her, please click HERE


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