9 Questions To Ask Before Ruling Out Planned Communities

9 Questions To Ask Before Ruling Out Planned Communities

Checklist For Those Who Hate Gated Communities
Plus: IRA Properties—Should They Be In A Trust Or Corporation?
Every year, I speak with hundreds of potential expats at events, and I get thousands of emails from people considering moving to Latin America. Most say that they would never consider living in a gated community overseas… especially an expat-oriented one.Their arguments are good ones—and almost always the same. Because when we consider moving abroad—dreaming of moving abroad—much of the appeal has nothing to do with practical issues… the allure of overseas living has more to do with adventure, excitement, and a rich cultural experience.

And the best way to get that experience is to be part of the local culture… not to be part of a North American enclave.

So the vast majority of potential expats say the same thing: They would not consider a planned community favored Continue reading

top picks global property summit

My Top 3 Global Property Picks From This Year’s Summit

My Top Three Property Picks From The Global Property Summit

I just got home from spending last week at the annual Global Property Summit, where our contacts from around the world brought the best real estate offers from their respective countries. We saw a wide array of good investments.

I know everyone has their own favorites, based on their own needs and objectives. But I thought I’d pass along my own top picks from last week… the property deals that appealed to me the most.

Brazil Is Staging A Comeback, With Beach Lots Under US$50K

This year’s Global Property Summit featured a number of Brazilian offers that were popular with attendees. Many people were drawn to the Pontal Beach Lots, located within a beachfront community, for Continue reading

property investments overseas can be affected by exchange rates.

How Exchange Rates Affect Overseas Property Investments

Exchange Rates: More To The Issue Than Meets The Eye
Plus: “… I’m Going To Get You People Shut Down”
You hear a lot of disclaimers about currency risk in the world of overseas property investment. In fact, I often mention here that your property’s price—or your rental income—will vary with current exchange rates.But there’s more to the issue than meets the eye when it comes to foreign exchange rates.

I thought I understood the concepts of currency exchange rates when I first started buying property abroad. But the reality of what they can do only hit home when I experienced a dramatic rise in my cost of living in Uruguay… and a windfall profit when I sold my house in Brazil.

My annual property taxes in Uruguay were about 54,000 pesos. In dollar terms, this amount was US$2250 when I arrived in 2006… and went up to US$2900 in 2011 due to a weakening dollar. Continue reading

buying real estate abroad

The 4-Step Guide To Finding And Buying Real Estate Abroad

Prepare For Your 2017 Property Search

I’ve been writing these past few weeks from my new home in Mazatlán… the contractors are finally finished. It’s just what we were looking for—on the water yet in the historic center—but finding the property and making the purchase was a lot harder than it should have been.

We spent too much time spinning our wheels… mostly due to failure to follow my own advice. More on that in a minute…

I have two problems that continue to slow me down when looking at real estate abroad.

It seems counterintuitive, but it’s actually harder to pick a property when you have absolutely no restrictions on where and what you might buy… and you have the whole world to choose from. When moving to a new employment location during your work life, the country, state, and often the city are already determined. Your selection of neighborhood is based on convenience for living and commuting rather than any expectation of fun, adventure, or profit. When buying a second home or investment property abroad, the options are virtually infinite, which makes choosing much harder.

Also, the more experience I gain, the harder it is to choose a property. This is because all that Continue reading

10 Things To Know Before You Buy In A Planned Community

10 Things To Know Before You Buy In A Planned Community

Planned Communities: 10 Things To Consider Before You Buy

You’ve been dreaming about living abroad for years, and now you finally can afford to buy the perfect house in a beautiful gated community. You’re ready to sign on the dotted line, hand over the cash, and move in.

Not so fast—your dream home could rapidly become your worst nightmare.

By paying attention to these ten areas, you can avoid getting yourself into a home that is not what you thought it would be.

#1 The Condominium Regime

Is your dream home in a private gated community where visitors are restricted? If so, then in all probability, it must be legally formed as a condominium. Here in Mexico, only condominium communities are allowed to have gates that restrict who comes and goes.

If you like the gate restriction, then make sure you ask to see the legal paperwork that initially formed your community Continue reading

The discounts of having the gree-back in our hands are starting to go away.

Dollar Holders See Reduced Buying Power In Foreign Markets

2016 Currency Shift: Our Dollar Discounts Are Shrinking
Plus: I Want My Money Back!
Checklist For Buying An Investment Property
Why Isn’t Cuenca, Ecuador On Your List?

I’ve written often about “currency discounts,” that is, the reduction in property prices that dollar holders have realized these past few years as a result of the strengthening dollar.

Today I’m telling you that the trend is changing for several currencies… things are shifting. Whether or not the dollar’s decline is a long-term trend, I can’t say. But I can tell you that many of the discounts we’ve been enjoying around the world are dwindling… while some bargains are Continue reading

You can now even use a tablet when Listing Rental Property Overseas.

Top 3 Websites For Listing Rental Property Overseas

Three Sites You Should Be Using To Market Your Overseas Rental
Plus: “How Do I Sell My Agro-Investment?”
Shipping Household Items Abroad
And Banking In Uruguay

As an overseas property owner looking for income, you need to pay attention to how your property is being marketed—this is critical to the success of your rental property. Specifically, you need to be aware of the best marketing channels to effectively promote your property to ensure high occupancy levels in your unit.

Right now, the best and most effective marketing outlets for a short-term rental are online booking websites. Not only do these platforms allow you to promote your property, they’ll also receive payments on your behalf.

I would even say that it’s imperative that any rental property owner get their property listed on every worthwhile online booking site.

Can’t My Property Manager Do This Marketing?

Maybe… maybe not. Continue reading

Portugal's Golden Visa Program

Portugal’s Golden Visa Program Offers Residency And Profit

Obtain European Residency With A Chance To Profit In Portugal
Plus: A Potentially Great Path-Of-Progress Buy

Obtaining residency in a foreign country is one of the most important benefits of buying real estate abroad. I write frequently about obtaining residency through property purchase, and the examples of good programs are almost always in Latin America.

But now it’s Europe’s turn… specifically, Portugal. Portugal has a program called the Golden Visa program, which targets the foreign investor and property buyer.

For the average buyer with no family connections in Europe, it’s the best residency program that I know of right now.

Here’s why the Portuguese Golden Visa program is so valuable today.

First and foremost, Portugal is a great place to live, so residency there is naturally attractive. The Portuguese claim to have the best beaches in Europe and boast their moderate weather and abundance of sunshine.

Also, Portuguese properties are a good deal at this time, as they still have not come back from Continue reading

Options For Financing Property Overseas

5 Best Options For Financing Property Overseas

Five Options For Financing Abroad
Plus: A Great Visa Trick… Which Won’t Work

You have probably heard all the virtues of living and investing overseas many times. And, indeed, there’s an overwhelming case in favor of it.

But there’s a huge gap when comparing buying property abroad with buying property back home: financing. Without the ability to finance, our options for buying abroad are limited. And most people believe financing in a foreign country is out of the question.

But, in fact, you can finance abroad. Today I’m going to discuss five options that may be available to you when buying overseas.

You won’t find all of these options available in every situation, but they’re all worth considering. Let’s take a look at each financing option in turn.

Bank Financing

This one is hardest to find worldwide, but it’s often the best option where it’s available. Here are four things to keep in mind:

  • Generally speaking, loan-to-value ratios will be lower than you’re used to. The best I’ve seen personally is 75% of value, and the lowest was 50%.
  • Terms will be shorter, with 30-year loans fairly unheard of.

Continue reading

Corrupt Countries In The World

Do Corrupt Countries In The World Affect Their Expats?

Why Corruption Matters To An Expat
Plus: I Thought You Said You’d Never Invest In Brazil

I got an email comment this week from a guy, also named Lee, in California:

I was surprised to read the quote from Lee Harrison in Valentine Fouché’s article about Medellín: “Medellín… has the same diverse natural beauty as Ecuador but (and this has become important to us) less corruption.”

I’m interested in understanding his comment regarding corruption. I’m recently retired after living in many countries in Latin America and Asia where corruption became a major issue for me, both in business and daily life. I value Lee’s experience and insights and would appreciate his further comment, particularly since he has lived in both Colombia and in Uruguay (where I am considering retirement).

Transparency International ranks 168 countries on corruption. The USA is ranked 16, Chile 21, Uruguay 23 and Colombia 83. (Ecuador is ranked at 107.)

So Lee, if 107 (Ecuador’s corruption rank) was an irritation, and 83 (Colombia) is much better, at what point does the extra cost of living justify an investment or retirement in a less corrupt country like Chile or Uruguay? And, why has this (less corruption) become important to you now?

These are very good questions.

When I first moved abroad in 2001, I didn’t pay much attention to Continue reading