Dream home

Find your dream home, wherever it may be.

Have you ever dreamed of owning a piece of real estate in another country, or on an island? It may seem like a far off, wild dream, but many Americans are now purchasing second homes or retiring completely to other parts of the world. The retirement of 78 million baby boomers will present great potential for the global real estate market. Beauty, culture and lower cost of living are attracting the retirees.  Families are also going abroad to educate their children in foreign countries, which promotes diversity, inclusion and global respect.

The steps to considering a purchase or a sale of your real estate in another country takes a considerable amount of time, education and understanding of both legal and cultural aspects. The first step would be to consult a Certified International Property Specialist. This specialist is a licensed realtor who has completed rigorous coursework through the National Association of Realtors. 

These realtors connect with a global network of real estate professionals in more than 40 countries. In addition, the CIPS is trained to guide you in a purchase or sale of a property either directly or through a referral system. You can go to the National Association of Realtors website to obtain contact information should you be considering a purchase or sale of real property in another country. 

Also, some real estate brokerages have offices and shops throughout the globe that can assist. Imperative to all this is the importance of consulting an attorney and tax accountant on the ramifications of a purchase or sale of property overseas. 

The National Association of Realtors has cooperating agreements in many foreign countries including, but not limited to, the European Group of Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Italy, Germany, Greece, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Spain and the United Kingdom. Home ownership in Europe and the United Kingdom is still placed in high esteem. Currently, the average rate of home ownership in Europe is higher than the United States, about 70 percent versus our current home ownership at 64.2 percent (United States Census).    

The Americas real estate market is currently seeing a flux of United States citizens purchasing in Central America. Costa Rica, Belize and Panama continue to attract U.S. citizens. Many countries in the Americas have cooperating agreements with the National Association of Realtors. 

Also, several real estate brokerages have positioned offices in South and Central America areas as growth continues. This is due to the natural beauty as well as an attractive cost of living. As the retirement age population grows, seekers for lower cost of living expenses are main reasons for purchasing in Central and South America.   

It is highly recommended to have spent a considerable amount of time in a foreign country or on an island before embarking on a real estate purchase. Knowing the customs, year-round climate, education system and healthcare facility options will assist you in making a wise decision.   

Consider how far the U.S. dollar will stretch in other countries.  Currently our dollar is worth less in Canada and Europe. This does not mean it is not a good idea to purchase, only that you will need to understand the conversation rates. There are great apps that can give you conversion rates.  

Several European countries are promoting their area and suggesting good opportunities for real estate such as southern Italy, Sicily, Spain, and Portugal. However, be mindful of what you see on the internet. Always be cautious, and work with a knowledgeable agent who can assist you in superior representation. 

Asia’s strong economic growth continues to hold real estate in high esteem. Become familiar with the areas that reflect your lifestyle and consult with a competent real estate professional in the United States who can guide you.  

The Middle East countries attracting U.S. citizens for work in capital business ventures as well as government positions are not as easy to purchase property from. The opportunities to purchase real estate need to be thoroughly looked into. 

For example, a foreigner wanting to purchase in Saudia Arabia will need a letter of permission from the Ministry of Housing. This may take up to one year. The process may be much more complex than other nations, but should not be ruled out.

All in all, purchasing property in a foreign country can be a fun and exciting new chapter as well as a serious undertaking for your real estate portfolio. Property dealings in foreign countries can be quite complex so do your homework. Always do your due diligence in purchasing any real estate, whether here or abroad. Be guided by a competent Realtor who has the knowledge or who can refer you to a real estate professional or attorney for guidance.

Happy Travels!

Deborah Van De Putte is a Realtor (CIPS) with Engel and Voelkers. She can be reached at 282-111 or deborah.vandeputte@evusa.com.

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