Some of us have the dream of living in another country, whether it is an apartment in France or a villa in Italy, the dream is great, but the reality is not as easy as it sounds. Buying real estate in other countries can get more complex than you would believe, with each country having its own laws. Many countries won’t even let you buy real estate, they will just let you lease it. Some countries you can buy a house, but the land it’s on must be owned by a citizen of that country. So if your dream is to buy a house in another country, there are a few of the things you need to consider before you jump into the pool.
Get a lawyer
If you are doing any business transactions in the states, you need a lawyer, so it’s doubly so when you are in another country. Find one that specializes in real estate and they will help you overcome many of the hurdles you might not even be aware of. If you can find one that deals with overseas buyers, then you have scored.
As above, you need a lawyer. Laws in each country and radically different than the ones at home. Things you think are logical, might not work the way they did back where you come from. When in Rome, do as the Romans do, and get a Roman lawyer.
Real estate agent
Similar to the lawyer, you need to get a real estate agent that is familiar with people buying from overseas. Real estate agents are usually in it for making a profit, so you have to be careful. A real estate lawyer won’t make a profit on the sale, so can represent you better.
Don’t buy unless you see
If you are going to be buying real estate in that country, it only makes logical sense to actually visit the place before you buy. Though the picture might be amazing, the reality is often not so much. They only take pictures of the good parts, the falling down parts tend to be forgotten when sending pictures. As silly as this might seem like advice, you would be surprised at how many people buy places without seeing them.
Stay in the area first
If you are planning on living there, it is a good idea to rent and stay there for a while first before buying. That way you know if you really can stay there or if you want to pick somewhere else.
Talk to the locals, including the local police. Ask about the area, what is good and what is bad. There will be some cultural differences, but it would be nice to know that your home wasn’t downwind from a fertilizer factory before you buy it.
If you plan on renting the property to others outright, or just when you are away on your world travels, it is a good idea to know the renting laws first. It would not be good to come home and find a family living there and have no ability to evict them. Your best bet is to get a professional renting agency in the area in the beginning until you get a feel for it.
Costs and Repairs
The fees for things are different from where you come from. Some costs are nothing while others can be enormous. There can be costs that you have never heard of, but still need to be paid just the same. Repairs as well. If you can, get a local appraiser to go through the house, as it will give you a better idea. Just as an example of a law that you might not expect. You can’t repair anything yourself in Thailand if a Thai can do it. It is considered taking work away from the locals. Even something as simple as hanging a painting can be trouble. So know the laws.
Living in another country is an experience that you will never forget. It can be wonderful, or a nightmare. You need to do some research to make sure which it will be. Just keep an open mind and realize that everything will be different. Everything from the culture, to how the utilities work. Everything. So if you can keep an open mind, and don’t judge by your experiences back home, and follow the rules above, you will be fine. We are looking to move to the Philippines, so we have been banging our head on this for a while. We wish you the best and tip us a toast from that villa in Italy.