Articles Related to How to buy real estate overseas
What are the foreign buyer's options? Really, you have only one—private financing. Some local entrepreneurs are offering mortgage lending in Colombia on a small scale, but you have to have an introduction to these guys, and their pools of available funds are limited. Realistically, therefore, the foreigner wanting to finance the purchase of real estate in Colombia has to negotiate terms with the seller directly.

This means you need to be flexible. If your property requirements are strict, you'll have a hard time finding the property you want available from a seller interested in talking terms.

Your most likely lender will be another foreigner who doesn't need 100% cash at closing. Typically a local seller needs the cash from the sale to purchase his next home. If that's not the case, a local seller is likely to take the same position as banks in this country—that is, that financing a sale to a foreigner is too risky. You could walk away from the mortgage payments at any time, and what recourse would they have then?

When you find a property available from a seller willing to finance, don't expect a 30-year mortgage at 4%, for example. The terms aren't going to be anything like what you could get from a bank in the United States. A seller willing to finance typically does it over a shorter period and at a higher rate of interest than might be possible with bank financing. A common term would be 3 to 5 years with payments amortized on 20 years. Interest rates could be in the double digits.

Don't despair if you need a loan to buy your retirement home overseas. While Colombia is a challenge, other countries do offer bank financing to foreign buyers. Although banks in many European countries have eliminated or scaled back lending to foreigners, especially non-resident foreigners, in recent years, you still can find banks in France, Spain, Portugal, and Italy willing to lend to you if you qualify.

Still, though, you won't find 30-year fixed-rate loans in Europe as you do in the States. In fact, you'll not see many fixed-rate loans at all. Mostly you'll find variable-rate loans with 20- or 25-year terms. As a foreigner you'll have to put down at least 30%, more likely up to 50%. If you're taking a foreclosure property off a bank's books for them, they may be willing to give you a better deal than they would on another property.

In the Americas, foreign property buyers can obtain mortgages in Panama, Belize, Mexico, and even Nicaragua if they can find the right bank and qualify. Again, terms won't be like those in the States. Interest rates in Belize can be as high as 11%. Panama interest rates are more reasonable at 6% to 7%, but banks are less likely to lend to a non-resident than a resident foreigner.

Lief Simon

P.S. I'll walk attendees at my upcoming Global Property Summit through these and all other particulars to do with investing in real estate overseas with the help of more than two-dozen global property professionals and experts from around the world. The program my team and I have put together allows lots of time for questions and one-on-one discussion. More details are here.

Continue Reading: The Property Market In Cali, Colombia


#2: Would you need to own a car? This is an important question not only for you if you intend to use the property personally but also in the contexts of resale and rental. The ability to walk to stores, restaurants, and administrative services, meaning you don't have to invest in owning a car if you don't want to, makes life more convenient and also more affordable. In the case of a city property, it's not necessary that it be completely walkable; being near convenient public transit is the next-best alternative. Of course, walkability doesn't apply in remote properties that are intended to “get away from it all.”

#3: What's going on next-door? In Santa Marta, Colombia, I looked at a beautiful new high-rise apartment three blocks from the beach with an impressive view of the Caribbean. When I looked out the window, I happened to notice that the adjacent “never-to-be-developed” property was filled with construction equipment. As it turned out, this undisclosed neighboring building was going to block most of the view I'd have been paying for. 

Just south of João Pessoa, Brazil, we looked at a planned community of beautiful town homes a couple of blocks in from the beach. While driving to the property, I happened to notice a billboard announcing the construction of a massive low-income housing project on the adjacent property... again, undisclosed. 

You can't see into the future, and you can't know everything that will happen. But do keep your eyes open to what's going on in the area around you.

#4: In which direction is the Path of Progress moving? Take a big-picture look at any major infrastructure upgrades in the works. If you're a Path of Progress investor, you'll benefit from construction of that new highway or airport. If, on the other hand, you're looking for continued peace and solitude, you'll want to avoid them. Either way, you should consider them.

If you're buying into an existing building, you should also consider the following four questions:

#5: What is the condition of the property overall? Look at paint, general appearance, the pool, grounds, elevators, and facilities. A quality, well-managed building is never in rundown condition. I've heard plenty of excuses about how the homeowners association (HOA) was going to fix things up during the coming year... but a well-managed property doesn't become rundown in the first place.

#6: How strong is the HOA? We all know that HOAs are an annoyance. However, there's no doubt that they preserve the value of your investment. Make sure the rules for appearance and maintenance are being followed and that the HOA is well-funded by reviewing their financial statements (your real estate agent can get these for you). Compare the HOA fees to those for other facilities in the area to make sure they're not exorbitant but are sufficient. 

I looked at several properties in Montevideo, Uruguay, where the agent proudly told me that the HOA had been disbanded to save money and that future assessments would be made to take care of any building needs. I called these “dying buildings” because they were rapidly turning into poorly maintained, shabby properties. 

See if the HOA documents allow—or prohibit—short-term rentals. Many municipalities place restrictions on them. If you want to be able to rent your place out for maximum return, this is a problem. If, on the other hand, you intend to use the property as your residence, then no short-term rentals in the building is a good thing.

#7: How many units are for sale? If a mature building has a seemingly large number of units for sale, it could be a sign of trouble—a big tax increase, an HOA fee increase, or something unpleasant going on in the neighborhood, like a shopping center being built next-door. Ask around to find out why so many units are being offered for sale. The best source of reliable information on this can be the building's doormen. 

#8: What kinds of cars are in the parking garage? This may sound strange, but a building with well-off owners who care about the property will likely have a garage full of nice, well-kept cars. The more expensive they are, the better. If you see old junkers in the parking garage, take it as a warning.

If you're buying in a planned community, consider these four questions:

#9: How many unsold units remain? We were looking into property for sale last week in Mazatlán, Mexico, and found a large, brand-new apartment for sale—with an almost 180-degree ocean view—at a good price. But then we noticed that there was another just like it... and then found two more. After checking the building's completion date, I found it was completed almost four years ago.

Something's wrong here, something I can't see by investigating online. I'm traveling to see the area and property next month, and I'll figure it out. But if you see a large number of still-unsold units in a finished building, you should smell a rat. 

#10: How is infrastructure being funded? Many planned communities depend on property sales to fund the promised infrastructure and community amenities. This can mean that, if sales are insufficient, infrastructure and amenities never get finished, leaving owners holding the bag with unfulfilled sales promises on unimproved land.

I won't tell you to avoid sales-funded developments full stop. However, if the developer needs sales to fulfill his promises, that's an item that should be in your “risk” column.

The golden rule here is to “buy what you see.” This is an oversimplified way of verifying that, if the project were to stop today, leaving the remaining sales promises unfulfilled, you'd still own something that you believe to be of value. 

#11: What is the competition in the area? I once looked at a project in Uruguay that was 2.5 miles from the beach, practically requiring its residents to have a car—call it Project A. The houses were expensive by local standards, between US$250,000 and US$450,000. Project B, in the same town, was located right on the water, offering brand-new apartments for US$75,000, with plenty of unsold units. 

The town became popular with expats—partly due to Project A's promotional efforts—but almost everyone opted for cheaper and more convenient properties in Project B or elsewhere in town. Local competition wasn't the only reason Project A failed, but it was an important factor.

#12: Can the developer deliver what he's promising? I've written about this in detail in the past. Take a look here: 10 Questions To Ask Before Investing With A Developer Overseas.

Buying property in another country can be safe, rewarding, and profitable. Just be sure to follow the rules and apply the same common-sense behavior you would back home.

I'll be at the Global Property Summit starting March 18 in Panama City, co-hosting with Lief Simon. Along with a lot of actionable overseas opportunities, our group of experts will be covering all the tricks of the trade when it comes to buying properties abroad. You can get more information on the Global Property Summit here

Lee Harrison

Editor's Note: The Early Bird Discount for this year's Global Property Summit expires in two week. This is your last chance to register saving US$250 per person. Do that here now.

Continue Reading: How To Move Money To Colombia


Plus, the Istrian Peninsula, we'd observed for some time, serves up some of the most delightful scenery on this planet. The land seems to rise up to embrace you. Everywhere you look, something nice is growing—olives, grapes, figs, tomatoes, pumpkins, blackberries, wildflowers... Even the buildings seem to be of the earth, built of its white stone and red clay. In some parts of the world, Nature outdoes herself. In others, that which man has built is impressive. In Istria, Nature and mankind have worked together over centuries, starting with the Romans, to create a land of delights you have to see to appreciate.

So, that rainy morning in that muddy farmyard, with Kaitlin (and I'm sure others, too) questioning our sense, Lief and I decided that we'd found the old white stone house that fit our bill, made an offer to the Istrian owner, and agreed the terms with a handshake. The seller sealed the deal by making a gift to us of lavender oil his wife had bottled.

Then we returned to our lives and got distracted. Finally, recently, nearly a decade later, we got back to Istria, to check in on our little stone farmhouse and to see how things have changed on this peninsula in the intervening years.

And we were happy to find that we're as enamored of this region now as we were back then. This sun-soaked peninsula continues to offer an appealing Old World lifestyle amidst one of Europe's most impressive landscapes and at a more affordable cost than across the way in Italy.

Before you're ready to retire, you're likely to notice places around the world where you'd like to be able to spend time. Not just once every several years or so in a hotel, but more regularly, as often as possible, in the company of your family and friends, and in a place of your own. That's the realization we made years ago in Istria, Croatia.

When you identify a destination that meets this description, I recommend you take stock of it bigger-picture, considering, first, whether that destination is also a place where you think you might like to spend time in retirement and, second, if the real estate market there presents potential for capital appreciation or cash flow. If the answer to either of those questions is yes (and certainly if the answer to both of those questions is yes), then you've found your ideal second home overseas.

In our case, with Istria, the answer to both those taking-stock questions was enthusiastically positive, and, so, we proceeded to stake our small claim. We invested in a little farmhouse because Lief and I agreed that this is a place where we can see ourselves coming back to long term, a place we'd like to make part of our eventual retirement plan.

When it comes time to flip the switch to retirement, Lief and I hope to have organized our lives so that we're able to move around during that phase of life among a handful of destinations where we most enjoy spending time, with established infrastructure in each so that we can come and go as residents, not tourists, with friends and connections, social circles and, important to us, homes of our own. When making your own plan for retirement overseas, the starting point, key to the success of the adventure, is to be honest with yourself as to what kind of lifestyle you're after.

When Lief and I ask ourselves what kind of lifestyle we want in retirement, the answer is: varied. City and coastal, Caribbean and highland, spring and summer, fall and winter, developed and emerging, sophisticated and raw, refined and gritty, we appreciate it all. So we've conceived a retirement plan, that we've been working for some years to engineer, that will allow us to enjoy it all, perpetually, in turns.

Whatever your plan, I encourage you to start developing it as soon as possible. An easy first step can be the purchase of a piece of property in a locale where you want to be able to spend time now and that you think eventually could become part of your retirement plan. Meantime, whenever you're not using the property yourself, it could be generating cash flow from rental, and, over time, it could be increasing in value, too. Your future retirement residence could be a nicely appreciating asset on your balance sheet.

That's the ideal situation—when the holiday home-cum-retirement plan you buy also qualifies as an investment. This was what tipped the scales for us with the farmhouse purchase in Istria. The old farmhouse we bought came with a bit of land. On that land, we'd daydream, we could cultivate olives, figs, even grapes. Maybe we could try making our own wine! We could go for long hikes in the hills, exploring the medieval villages nearby, by day, then read by firelight come evening.

Croatia's Istrian peninsula is a wonderland of vineyards and olive groves. If you've any romance in your soul, I defy you not to fall in love with this region that the ancient Romans called Terra Magica, the Magic Land. Perhaps the best part is that, unlike Tuscany, the region of Italy that Istria is most often compared with (with good reason, as the geography and the history of these two regions have much in common), the average person can afford Istria, where you can buy a small, renovated cottage with lookouts over a valley and vineyards, perfect for regular visits, for rental, and for retirement, for as little as US$100,000.

Retiring to Croatia, you'd be in good company. Diocletian, the only Roman emperor to abdicate his position (that is, to retire) was also the first person to retire overseas. Diocletian built a palace on the Dalmatian coast (his birthplace was Dalmatia), the location of current-day Split, and it is here, with the glorious Adriatic Sea spread out before him, that he chose to live out his days.

Kathleen Peddicord

P.S. A holiday home-cum-retirement plan that also qualifies as an investment is the global property investing trifecta. Identifying and following through on such a multi-agenda purchase will be one important topic of discussion during our second-annual Global Property Summit, taking place in March 2015.

In addition, we'll be using our 2015 Global Property Summit as a forum to introduce three new property investment markets we've been tracking and vetting, markets of considerable opportunity that you should be looking at right now.

We'll be opening registration for this, the only property event on next year's calendar, within the next week. Meantime, go here now to get your name on the Hot List for special discounts and VIP perks.

Continue reading: Motivations For Relocating Overseas


April 22, 2014

"Kathleen, I was reading your best places to buy and wondered why you had not suggested Turkey. I myself am selling a property there right now, at a loss I might add.

"They are overdeveloping in parts of Turkey just like they did with Spain, in particular around Alanya. I am unsure if I have done the right thing by deciding to sell now, having heard that it is the best time to buy and that prices are likely to go up!

"I wondered if you had any thoughts on this. Also many Russians are buying into this area, and I do hear that some people are selling because of that alone. I would really appreciate your thoughts.

"Thank you so much."

--Beth N., United States

Resident global property expert Lief Simon replies:

I haven't paid much attention to the Turkish real estate market until recently. I know that, yes, as you suggest, some parts of that country's coast have been developed like the coast of Spain has been developed—which is to say badly and without proper planning.

However, I do think there could be opportunity in Turkey now and that prices could be poised to appreciate. Kathleen and I are planning a two-week visit to the country in early July. I'll have more to report then.

Continue reading:


I'm all for making money off our international real estate purchases, of course, but annual yield and long-term ROI aren't typically the tipping points for me when it comes to choosing one piece of real estate over another.

When we arrived in Waterford, Ireland, some 16 years ago as newlyweds, we were eager to launch our new life on the Auld Sod, and I had a clear picture of what that life was to look like. I wanted a big, old, Georgian-style stone house with land around it for chickens, maybe a couple of horses, and a garden. I never articulated this vision to Lief, for I assumed he shared it. How little I understood my new husband.

Lief's vision for our first joint property purchase overseas had more to do with diversifying outside the U.S. dollar and into the punt (this was Ireland pre-euro) and buying into one of the fastest-appreciating real estate markets on the planet at the time than it did with a love of classic Irish Georgian architecture. The house we eventually purchased, LaHardan House, met all my criteria and delighted Lief, because, thanks to the property's sorry state of repair, the price was under-market. I got a renovation project; Lief got a great deal.

Seven years later, as we planned our move from Waterford to Paris, we wondered what to do with our Irish country home. Sell it? Or continue to hold and rent while we were away? Lief made the call. Time to get out of this frothy market, he determined. It's nearing its top.

We sold LaHardan House for three-and-a-half times what we had invested in it. I'd made the purchase and carried out the improvements. Lief timed the sale. He sold just before the Irish property market began to settle. (It has since collapsed.)

Likewise, in Paris, I selected the 300-year-old apartment in the historic center of the city that I wanted to buy. Lief was happy to go along with the purchase, because, as with LaHardan House, the state of the property meant the price was nicely below market. Again, I carried out the renovations, the finishing, and the furnishing, and then, fast forward a few years, as we prepared for our move to Panama City, again, we faced the question of what to do with the place.

Hold, Lief determined in this case. An historic city-center apartment in this market will retain its value, and we'll be able to rent it out for a reasonable yield while we're elsewhere. The yield has materialized according to Lief's projections, and the hard asset remains ours.

This has become the secret to the most successful global real estate buys we've made over the past 16 years. No, we haven't employed this strategy for every purchase--sometimes Lief has bought purely for investment in places where I have no interest in spending time and at least once I've bought a family holiday home that never would have held up under Lief's spreadsheet scrutiny. These purchases weren't necessarily mistakes, but they've proven the least successful from an investment point of view.

Lief may have another take on why this is so, but here's mine: Global real estate investing is both a science and an art. To enjoy the greatest level of success at it, you must analyze the market and run the numbers, yes, but you also must take a step back from the spreadsheets and view the purchase from a more personal perspective.

Is this a place where you'd enjoy spending time and is this a piece of property you'd be happy to own even if it were never worth a dollar (or a euro or a peso) more than you paid for it and even if it never yielded you a single percentage point of return?

More sobering, is this a place you'd be OK being stuck with? You should recognize with every foreign property purchase you make that there's a chance not only that the value might never increase, but also that it might fall. What if the market turns and your house (or beachfront lot, etc.) becomes worth significantly less than you have invested in it? We've all been made painfully aware over the past several years that this isn't a theoretical question. Real estate values sometimes fall. Sometimes they fall far and hard.

If you own a piece of property you don't like in a market where you don't want to spend time, what happens if it's no longer valuable as an investment?

Then it's no longer valuable, period.

If, on the other hand, you choose your markets and your properties not only because they're places that hold out investment potential, but also because they're places where you want to spend time, then, if the investment return doesn't materialize as you were expecting it to, you're still disappointed, yes, but all is not lost. You don't mind holding on until the market cycle moves more in your favor.

I think of it as balancing the numbers with the romance. Lief and I stumbled into this global real estate investment strategy and, over the years, we have put it to the test again and again. We've made together now more than three-dozen real estate purchases around the world. Coincidentally or not, the ones we most appreciate—because we've spent time in them with our family or because (as in the case of the 150-year-old stone farmhouse on the side of a mountain in Istria, Croatia, that remains, despite all my best intentions to renovate it, a near-ruin) we dream of the day we and our children will be able to enjoy them—are also the ones that have proven the most profitable investments.

Kathleen Peddicord

P.S. This Spreadsheets and Romance strategy for buying real estate overseas will be an important topic of conversation during the first-ever Global Property Summit we’re planning for April 2014.

We’re finalizing the details of what is shaping up to be the biggest overseas real estate event of the year. All attendees will receive a free copy of my newest book, “How To Buy Real Estate Overseas.”

In addition, because we respect the wisdom of considering any foreign real estate purchase as a team (husband and wife, father and son, two brothers, two sisters, two business partners, etc.), we will be inviting every attendee to bring a significant other for a significant discount.

You can register your early interest in the event here.

When shopping for a piece of real estate overseas, it’s important to balance the investment projections for return against your personal interest in spending time in the place where the property is located.

Continue reading:

Powered by Tags for Joomla
Enter Your E-Mail:

Readers Say

"This was a 10! Great event. Awesome job by the Live and Invest Overseas team!"

Edward T., United States


"Just great. Very welcoming and supplied answers to all questions very well. I'll see you again soon."

Charles M., United States

Kathleen Peddicord

Kathleen Peddicord is the founder of the Live and Invest Overseas publishing group. With more than 25 years experience covering this beat, Kathleen reports daily on current opportunities for living, retiring, and investing overseas in her free e-letter.

Her book, How To Retire Overseas—Everything You Need To Know To Live Well Abroad For Less, was recently released by Penguin Books.

Read more here.


Sign up for Overseas Opportunity Letter

Receive our editor's latest research reports...absolutely FREE!

letters The Best Places For Living And
Investing in the World for 2015