How To Invest In Property Overseas

Here’s My Proven Four-Pronged Approach To Global Property Profits

Every experienced and successful global real estate investor has a method behind his success. An approach that fits no matter which market or situation you’re in.

Me? To make money in global real estate, I look for opportunities that fall into one of these four categories:

1. Buying Wholesale

This is buying at a price below what the property would sell for to the general public, with the opportunity then to sell on (that is, to flip) to the general public at some key point in the future.

This is where my worldwide network of property investing contacts really pays off.

To make money using the Buying Wholesale method, you’ve got to be in a position to act early. You have to know about opportunities well before the general public knows.

Buying Wholesale is a strategy that can be particularly effectively employed when buying into a development. Early on is the time when a developer needs that all-important initial inflow of funds to get the project off the ground. To make early sales, in advance of infrastructure, for example, developers are typically willing to offer the best prices and financial terms to those first on the scene.

I’ve put together a couple of deals for my Marketwatch members this year that fall into this category, which remains viable in the current global climate.

2. Path of Progress

Buying in the “path of progress” can mean two things:

You’re buying property in the path of new or planned infrastructure, such as a new airport, bridge, or highway, for example.

Or you’re buying in a place where there’s an emerging market trend that’s not yet apparent to the mainstream property buyer.

One of the most important parts of my job is keeping my ear to the ground in key markets for major infrastructure projects. As soon as I hear of a new road, bridge, or airport, I’m on the ground investigating how to position myself to take advantage of it.

However, watching international markets for emerging trends is only half the battle. You’ve then got to decide how long the trends will continue, so you can establish the timeframe for your exit strategy.

3. Crisis Investing

This is investing in a market when everyone else is running the other way, typically as a result of an economic or political crisis that is creating a market distortion.

A good example is the financial crisis in Argentina in 2001. While CNN was showing riots in the streets, my clients and I were buying apartments for blood-in-the-street prices. Because we were able to offer distressed sellers cash, we were able to buy for what amounted to 50% off and more.

We were shopping specifically for apartments in Buenos Aires prime neighborhoods that would make good rental properties long term. As Buenos Aires bounced back, we enjoyed appreciation rates of 100% in just under three years.

Not to mention net rental returns in excess of 7% per year.

Similar situation in Ecuador during their crisis in 1999-2000, when savvy investors bought properties for pennies on the dollar.

I’m not the only one who can identify crisis, of course. Anyone who keeps up with the international news knows where trouble is unfolding. But that’s only the first step.

The people who make money from Crisis Investing are those able to identify which markets will rebound. You’ve also got to be in a position to act and to formulate an exit strategy that maximizes the opportunity.

Right now, one of my favorite markets is Medellin, Colombia. This is not a market in crisis, strictly speaking, but it is a market suffering from a long-term history of seriously bad press that has resulted in a global stigma. That prejudice has kept many investors away. As a result, prices are excellent, and net rental yields can reach double digits. We’re holding a Live & Invest In Colombia Conference in Medellin in January, when we’ll detail the most interesting current property investment opportunities I’ve identified in this market over the past 18 months of on-the-ground research and scouting.

4. Real Productive Assets

This is where the solid returns are being made today and where I see the real money coming long term.

Real Productive Assets are property assets that generate income as their primary objective. They can also yield capital appreciation, but I view that as a secondary objective. My own clients and I moved into this strategy and began investing in Real Productive Assets in early 2008.

When evaluating this type of investment, I make my case based on a solid plan for productive yields. I view capital gains as icing.

Investing in Real Productive Assets is not a new idea, of course. But the trick is knowing when it’s most productive.

There is no such thing as a recession-proof investment. But investing in Real Productive Assets is as close as you’ll get. These are the kinds of investments that are most likely to continue to produce in all economic cycles, good and bad. Which is why this is where I’m focusing my own investment capital right now.

Lief Simon

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