Buying Property Overseas: Avoiding the Common Investor Pitfalls

When you think about investing in property, you might only think about what’s in your neck of the woods. But, if you only look in your own country, you might be missing out on fantastic deals in other countries. With that said, buying overseas properties can be risky. Here’s what to look out for and when to snap up some property.

Decide Where You Want To Buy

Decide on a country you’d like to own property in. There are so many great places to live right now.

Portugal is one of the best. Yes Portugal. The Algarve region offers low real estate prices compared to the rest of Europe and there’s a wide price range. If you want a million dollar home, you’ve got it. If you only want to spend $165,000, you can get something at that price range too.

There are no foreign ownership restrictions, but there is plenty of oceanfront property and amazing views.

Belize is another great place to own property. On Ambergris Caye (the largest island in Belize), there aren’t many homes that aren’t beachfront. The weather is mild, it’s a tropical landscape, and there are so many things to do here, you’ll think you died and went to heaven.

Best of all, you can get a 2-bedroom beachfront home for about $250,000. If you’re a bit short on money, a one-bedroom studio will run you $150,000 or less. Amazing.

If Belize isn’t quite your style, how about Nicaragua? Granada, was founded in 1524 by Spanish conquistador Fransisco Fernandez de Cordoba. It’s the oldest colonial city in Nicaragua. Its selling features? Warm weather, freshwater lake, and a very low cost of living. A two-bedroom condo costs about $170,000, while a fully renovated home runs you between $100,000 and $400,000.

And, if you’re really looking to live on the cheap, a small un-renovated hacienda can be snapped up for $50,000.

And then there’s Panama. Buying property here makes you feel like you’re either a mobster or a wealthy CEO of some kind. Prices are stable, with a brand new full-amenity condo on the beach costing less than $300,000. If that sounds too good to be true, it might be.

Panama City beach properties are known to have property title issues because some beaches are nationalised. So, always check with a local lawyer and real estate agent first and bring this up before you go looking for properties.

The Dominican Republic is a favourite spot for honeymoons, but you don’t have to be just married to buy overseas property here. The Samana Peninsula offers pristine beaches and whale-watching as well as a rich nightlife.

Prices for one-bedroom apartments run $100,000. Even high-end developments are usually no more than $300,000.

Turkey might not be a country you thought about before, but it should be on your radar. Istanbul (not Constantinople) is large and is currently going through a major boom in the real estate industry. If you buy in now, there’s still the opportunity for a good deal. A one-bedroom condo sells for about $50,000.

Hire a Lawyer

Do this before you start searching for properties that are for sale abroad. What you may not realise is that the real estate market in some countries isn’t the same as it is in the UK. For example, if you buy a home in Nicaragua or Belize, it’s very much caveat emptor.

Sometimes, you might find yourself in the position of being offered a home by someone other than the person who owns the house. If you don’t discover this fact until after you’ve handed over a check, you don’t have much in the way of recourse. You’re expected not to get into trouble.

A lawyer can give advice which can help prevent this kind of thing from ever happening. Make sure the attorney represents you, not the seller, agent, or developer. He or she should only be working with you. Ideally, the lawyer won’t even know the other parties involved.

Find a Local Expert

Finding a local real estate agent is going to be key in getting a good deal. Real estate laws and regulations vary by country, and most agents these days start their search on sites like But, without an agent to guide you through the home, the buying process, the lending process, and the contract itself, you really don’t know what you’re getting.

Decide On What You Really Need

How much space do you really need? This should be pretty easy to figure out, but it’s something some people overlook. If it’s just a summer or seasonal home, you might not need a lot of space. If you’re looking to retire here, plan on getting a home sufficient to house all of your belongings.

Ellis Shaw works as a real estate manager. He loves writing about the real estate industry online. His posts can be found mostly on property and real estate sites.

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