10 Things You Need to Know Before Buying Property Overseas
You are on a vacation to a European or South American destination, and you love everything about the place. The weather is nice, food is great, people are hospitable and friendly, it is not crowded like New York or London, plus the prices are comparatively low by American standards. You like the place so much, that you’ve considered living here. If not that, at least buy a decent apartment or a condo, so that you can visit whenever you like.
Purchasing a property overseas is exciting, but only after you are clear about one rule – the heart should never rule the head where money is concerned. Also, it is essential that you follow the right procedure, and avoid using any unfair means in securing real estate. Consider doing all the things you would do if you were buying real estate in your homeland. Here are some tips that you can follow.
Know the Market Thoroughly
Be aware of rising and falling trends of the market. Knowledge about the rates can be helpful if you want to buy when prices are down, and sell as soon as the market sees an upward trend. Also, some countries have strict rules that prevent or limit property ownership to foreigners. Hence, it is good to know whether or not you have the legal right to purchase property in that country, to avoid any scams or disappointment. It is important to do your homework before stepping in the market of an alien country.
Beware of Impostors
The global real estate market is filled with impostors who con people, and often get them involved in a financial and legal mess. Even so, this doesn’t mean that everyone you come across is a thug, but being aware of what is right and wrong is a smart move. If you are dealing with a real estate agent who does not carry business cards, and does not have an office, he/she is probably someone you should avoid. Also, there are certain countries that don’t regulate their real estate industry; hence, agents don’t even require a valid license. Be extremely careful here, and proceed only after doing thorough research.
Only Purchase What You See
Real estate agents are idealists. They will make you dream about well-built roads, world-class amenities, and other facilities that are nowhere in plain sight. The catch here is, once you have signed the contract, you are the owner of the area and the illusions surrounding it. I have nothing against agents here, but it sounds risky to invest your hard-earned money for just barren land. Consider all the things that can go wrong here. Hence, only buy what you see.
Always Seek Professional Assistance
Great deals at an affordable price can be achieved if you buy a property directly from the owner. Nevertheless, don’t forget that you are in a foreign land, and taking the help of a reliable professional can be useful to avoid various pitfalls when buying property in a foreign land.
Signing a Contract
Never sign a contract that you don’t understand. Always ask for two versions of the contract – one in English, and the other in the local language. Bring along your legal adviser to confirm that the English version is a true translation, and does not contain any errors, extras, or omissions. Read the contract thoroughly, and ensure that you and the seller both agree to the different terms and conditions decided.
Try to Pay Cash
If you really like the property and know that this is the final deal, try paying the owner cash. It is a tough decision to take, but it is important to understand that financing mechanisms, like mortgages, aren’t as stable in foreign countries as they are in the US. In most European vacation spots, property transfers are mostly done in cash. For those who can’t do without a mortgage, seek the help of your real estate agent and lawyer to know more about such destinations.
Verify the Title
In the US, if you acquire a property you get a warranty title that states you are the legal owner. However, in countries outside the States, this title can create quite a problem. This is highly possible in European countries. You see, World War II had created many boundaries in the world, and it is quite possible that once you purchase the property, a recent descendant of the family can suddenly appear to claim his/her property. The situation sounds dramatic, but it can surely happen. This crisis can be avoided by taking the help of a notary. A notary can help verify legal documents, and also ensure that there are no gaps in the property’s history, and you are the rightful owner.
Knowing the Native Language
Relocating to a country without knowing its native language can get quite difficult. The best thing to do is to join a language course, and get things in motion soon. However, if you are not up for this challenge, a better idea would be choosing a country where English is spoken in large numbers.
Valuating the Property
Property valuation is an important step, especially in a foreign land. You need to know all the pros and cons of the property before signing the papers. Hence, ensure that an independent valuation of the property is carried out in your presence.
A Local Bank Account is Necessary
You will have to open a bank account in the country where you have chosen to live, and apply for a Certificate of Importation, so that bringing in money from your home country won’t be a problem. Also inquire about online money transfer facilities, so that you can pay the bills and taxes associated with the house from time to time.
Try to bargain if you are good at it; chances are you might get a great deal at a low price. Also, don’t shy away from seeking professional services that can ensure a smooth transaction overseas.