Foolish Questions

Foolish Questions

Kathleen is making her way from Paris to Panama this weekend. She’ll be back online tomorrow.

Meantime, read on below for all that’s new this week…

At our recent Live & Invest in France Conference in Paris, France-Correspondent Lucy Culpepper got everyone’s attention with her tale of a friend, a fellow expat in southwest France, who’d bought a small stone house for 50,000 euro, invested 15,000 euro in the renovation, and created for herself in the process a cozy and charming French country home. In the photo Lucy showed the group, the little house her friend had renovated couldn’t have been cuter.

Could that really be possible, attendees wondered aloud? To secure a foothold in France for less than 70,000 euro?…

The following questions, which we receive regularly, are often preceded by, “I feel a little foolish asking, but I’m just not sure…”

Don’t be shy. It doesn’t hurt to clarify. For example:

“If I move overseas, could I ever return home?”

Yes, of course. Living overseas, even full-time, even as a legal resident of another country, affects your ability to spend time in your home country not at all. You’re still an American (or British or Australian, etc.) citizen, after all. You can come and go as you please.

Living overseas, would I lose my original citizenship?“… 

  • Putting your money into foreign real estate is becoming a more appealing strategy all the time. Thanks to a crazy piece of pork in the recently passed U.S. HIRE Act, currency controls in that country have been seriously tightened.

You know, of course, that you have to report any financial accounts you hold outside the United States with a value of more than US$10,000. Now, though, foreign financial institutions are required to report on the investment activities of U.S. citizens.

It’s been increasingly difficult for some time for an American to open an international account abroad, and Switzerland recently has taken the position that it doesn’t want to do business with Americans, period. Not worth the hassle.

Options for Americans to protect their assets abroad are going to continue to disappear. If you aren’t already holding a sizeable portion of your assets outside your home country, I strongly recommend that you make this a priority agenda

  • In the market to purchase a piece of real estate in another country? Here are 13 things to keep in mind as you shop:

#1: The real estate agents you encounter may not be licensed. Most countries do not require it. This means that the agent you work with may have next-to-no relevant experience (maybe he was a travel agent or a mechanical engineer in his previous life)…

#2: The real estate agent you decide to work with probably won’t, in fact, be working for you. In emerging and unregulated markets (like the ones we direct you to regularly), the property agents don’t work for the buyer, and they don’t work for the seller.They work for the commission, which they want to be a big as possible

ALSO From Global Real Estate Investing Guru Lief Simon:

Down markets worldwide continue to create interesting buy opportunities for both personal use and investment.

But invest in a piece of real estate in another country? What should you buy and where? These questions can seem intimidating if you’re considering them for the first time.

Start by understanding why you’re buying–for investment or for personal use?

The answer may not be clear-cut. And the best case is when you find a piece of real estate in a place where you want to spend time that also holds out the potential for an investment return (in the form of capital appreciation and/or a yield from rental).

State your objectives and exit strategy expectations clearly for yourself

Harry Kalashian