3 Mistakes to Avoid When Buying International Real Estate

Written by Posted On Wednesday, 15 August 2018 12:21
3 Mistakes to Avoid When Buying International Real Estate Country and Town House

Mexico. Canada. Spain.

These are amongst the top international locations Americans are purchasing real estate, whether they are securing retirement destinations, investment properties, or a powerful transition in life.

It’s easy to fall in love with a vacation destination and desire to live there. Yet if you are committed to buying real estate abroad, it’s key to be mindful from the very beginning.

This is because international real estate purchases are likely to be bound by unfamiliar laws, potential taxes, and all sorts of extra steps for non-citizens and foreign investors. Being mindful about your future property purchase can help you avoid a scam and ensure your dollars are flowing in the right direction.

Be sure to avoid these top three mistakes as you are surfing the international real estate market.  

Not Getting to Know The Destination Beyond Vacation Days

Life on vacation can be quite different from life not spent wandering white beaches. It’s difficult to get a true feel for a location if you are merely flitting in and out on spring holidays. Yet many investors purchase international real estate without truly understanding a region’s particular demographics, currency strength, culture, accessibility, and more.

Before you commit to a purchase decision, get to know your destination. Visit your dream town, city, or region and spend non-vacation days there—that is, try to play the local for a day, a week, or a month.

Spend some time researching demographics, cultural differences, exchange rates, and other practicalities. Jump aboard an expat online forum to get further insight into what moving to this particular location will be like.  

These taste-tests can be quite revealing. They may urge you elsewhere or solidify your intentions further. They may coax you to invest domestically, too.

Misidentifying Your Intentions

It’s vital to identify your intentions for purchasing international real estate before doing so. Yes, buying an old castle in Spain sounds dreamy, but why do you wish to do this?

Asking this question can be difficult, but do your best to answer it honestly and fully, and acquire all of your evidence for viability. If you are seeking an investment property, be sure you have enough investment savvy (and logic) backing you up. If you are aiming for retirement, spend some time with your savings to ensure an international move makes sense.

If you are making this purchase jointly, have this conversation many times with your partner, spouse, or relative. If you are struggling to answer this question or can only come up with vague answers, now may not be the time for an investment.

Choosing The First Realtor That Appears

International locales are often unfamiliar to foreign investors, even if they have spent significant time there. For this reason, it is all too easy to work with the first realtor that appears in Google search results—or to reach out to the first English-speaking agent you encounter.

It’s imperative to work with a realtor or licensed broker if you are purchasing abroad. Yet research international realtors as thoroughly as you would research a domestic one. Some companies are U.S.-based, which may be ideal; others operate solely in the foreign country itself.

If you need some tips on the realtor you want, visit my recent post here.

Purchasing international real estate is a big move, and an exciting one at that. Be sure, however, that you aren’t setting yourself up for regret or failure. Be mindful and aware, and above all, take your time. Your dream international home will wait for you.

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Kate King

Kate King is a freelance writer, editor, and blogger. 

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