How To Manage A Rental Property Overseas

“Kathleen, I met a developer/attorney/international property holder and investor while in Cuenca who told me to never purchase rental property overseas unless I expected to reside in that country to personally manage it. Recited instances that despite having local management at times they were unreachable, unresponsive, and that if you weren’t there to observe the property it could be destroyed.

“I have toured several countries over many months investigating a possible new international home and after that early advice have been reluctant to buy property for investment.”

–Linda N., United States

My advice would be the opposite of that from the guy you met in Cuenca. I’ve done it both ways many times in many different places, and I’d recommend hiring professional help to manage any rental investment, rather than trying to do it yourself.

We currently manage a rental apartment in Panama City ourselves, because we’re living here. We’ve been lucky in that, in the seven years we’ve been here managing the property personally, we’ve had great tenants. Still, we’ve had to nag some renters sometimes for payment… to rush out on a Sunday to buy a replacement air conditioner… to deal with damage and repairs between renters on our own, etc.

All other rental properties we own currently are managed by professional management groups in the respective cities, and, again, I’d say this is a much better situation. Linda, our rental manager in Paris, for example, sources renters, meets tenants upon check-in, and handles all maintenance and repairs, even improvements when she identifies opportunities for upgrades. Linda pays the bills, collects the rent, and is on call for any emergencies (over the years, we’ve had several, which Linda has handled seamlessly).

The rental manager is key. Some, like Linda, are great; others, yes, can be nothing but trouble. Still, I recommend thinking long and hard before opting to manage a rental yourself… unless, say, you’re living nearby the property and have nothing else to do with your time.

Managing a rental property in another country will be an important topic of discussion during our Global Property Summit taking place in Panama March 14–16. More information here.

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