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 fractions of the price than in the United States or Europe. Many people take advantage of these opportunities to buy affordable housing and fulfill their dreams of living abroad. But if you are 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, as well as 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 verify the property, and thus ensure that it lives up to your standards.
Research the infrastructure of the property very carefully to make sure 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 house, and how the waste and garbage will leave 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 from satisfied customers.
Review the sales contract to ensure that the price, description, property details and seller’s name match the name in 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 don’t understand.
Confirm that the deeds are registered with the government, so that when the deal is closed you already own the land, and not just the right to occupy it.
Obtain all 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 loss of property, and can be achieved both in your home country and in the place where you bought the land.
Read about the experiences of other foreigners who bought in that specific country.
Read and research publications dealing with 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 only you in the deal, and not the owner or the owner that sells the real estate.