By Louise Bolger
If you want a villa in France, learn the rules
sun staff writer
So you think you live in paradise. Anna Maria is certainly
considered paradise by those who live there, but its
not the only place in the world described as paradise, and
more and more affluent buyers and investors are finding that
According to a story in Forbes Magazine last month, purchasing
international property is lending itself to not only bragging
rights, but also to creating a diversified portfolio of investments.
Forbes states that in the last couple of years, the international
real estate market has seen a significant boost from affluent
buyers looking for both a getaway and an investment.
Naturally, purchasing real estate in a foreign country comes
with a whole host of negatives and caveats that can create
a bumpy road to ownership. These are some of the recommended
tips for buying abroad:
Hire a local lawyer, especially if you dont speak the
language. Since legalities and customs within the Unites States
change from state to state, you have to assume that dealing
with foreign governments will be that much more confusing.
Likewise, research the buying process. Understanding local
tax laws and fee structures is critical before making a purchase.
Also, educate yourself on local zoning laws so youre
not stuck with a beautiful villa or farmhouse that may eventually
be overlooking the local prison.
The first rule of real estate is to investigate and become
familiar with comparable properties in the area in which you
want to purchase. Dont react in the heat of the moment
by an exotic location or charming village without taking a
Allocate at least 10 to 15 percent of the purchase price for
extra expenses related to doing business abroad, including
travel, communications and unexpected fees.
One of the biggest issues when buying property in another
country is the currency exchange. Currency fluctuations can
make all the difference between a property appreciating or
depreciating. Research the history of currency fluctuations
in the country youre considering as well as the stability
of the government.
Many foreign countries, especially Mexico and Central America,
are attracting American retirees. If youre considering
one of the many new regions where homes are being constructed,
a thorough investigation of the builder is required. Half
finished projects and bankruptcies are common in developing
countries. Purchase with a known entity.
Ownership regulations are also not as straightforward as in
this country. Some countries will not allow a foreign national
to own property, but will offer long term lease arrangements,
which can limit your right to sell the property and possible
future use of the property.
However, the most important thing to understand, if youre
lifelong dream is to own property abroad, is to embrace the
cultural differences. Dont fight the system; understand
it and work within the framework. Whether youre buying
a ranch in Wyoming or a villa in the south of France, make
friends with your new neighbors. They will ultimately be your
best source for accurate information.
If youre ready to start researching your international
investment, I would recommend Sothebys International
Realty. You can view castles in the French countryside and
beach apartments on the Spanish coast. Paradise is in the
eye of the beholder, and there are many in the world to behold.