Buying land to invest, develop, retire or go on vacation in a foreign country is an exciting way to explore the world and a new culture. There are many opportunities in developed and developing countries to buy real estate at low prices, often at fraction of the price in the United States or Europe. Many people take advantage of these opportunities to buy homes at reasonable prices and fulfill their dreams of living abroad. But if you’re looking for a beachfront property or an apartment in an international city, there are some things you should consider before buying. The same basic rules apply when buying a property abroad, just like when making the transaction in your country.
Locate, through the Internet, a specific country, region and property where you are interested in buying. If possible, travel to personally check the property, and thus ensure that it is up to your standards.
Investigate the infrastructure of the property with great care to ensure that it is in good structural condition. If possible, hire an independent contractor to review possible drainage, sewer, and water problems. Look for damage, cracks, leaks and other possible problems that may arise from weather conditions. Make sure you understand how water, gas and electricity services will enter the home, and how waste and garbage will come out of it.
Hire a good local and bilingual lawyer who is familiar with the legal system and has experience with foreigners in property acquisition processes. Ask for references to satisfied customers.
Review the sales contract to make sure the price, description, property details and seller’s name match the name on the title deed. If the contract is not already translated into your mother tongue, make sure your lawyer translates it for you, or get a translated copy of the contract. Ask questions about any clause or stipulation in the contract that you do not understand.
Confirm that the deeds are registered with the government, so that when the deal is closed you already own the land, and not only the right to occupy it.
Obtain all the necessary permits and official approvals. Each country has different laws that regulate the construction, remodeling and occupation of properties in relation to foreigners.
Know what taxes you will have to pay in the foreign country and in your country of origin.
Buy a title insurance policy for the property. This economic asset will protect you against the loss of property, and can be obtained both in your country of origin and in the place where you purchased the land.
- Read about the experiences of other foreigners who bought in that specific country.
- Read and research publications that deal with the purchases, investments and experiences of foreigners in other countries.
- Do not trust the word of the seller or the owner. Make sure that any stipulation is explicitly stated in the contract.
Make sure your lawyer represents you only in the deal, and not the owner or the owner company that sells the real estate.