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Shopping for a country

Discussion in 'Buying Overseas Property' started by oregon woodsmoke, Feb 17, 2008.

  1. oregon woodsmoke

    oregon woodsmoke New Member

    First a disclaimer: I have never invested overseas. I have, however, been investing in real estate for over 30 years, and real estate is my sole source of support.

    People with real estate experience won't need this advice, but perhaps the beginners would like to see how I am going about finding my first investment overseas.

    The very first thing to do is to decide exactly what the property is supposed to do for you. To let? To generate income? To appreciate? To be a vacation home for yourself?

    Then a list of what sort of location you are looking for. What type of weather? Skiing? How many hours do you want to be in an airplane to get there? And for me, the most imposrtant: can I take my dogs in and out of the county and get them safely back home again.

    I am going to purchse a "snow bird" home for myself. When the snow arrives here, I wil fly to a warmer climate for the winter. But not too warm, because I do not enjoy hot weather. I want to be able to go for a walk without risking a heat stroke. I find that a round of golf is more fun if I am not sweating like a horse.

    I want a country with a political stability, little or no government corruption, a cost of living I can afford, food I like to eat, no history of nationalization, and a low crime rate.

    Personally, it makes me very uncomfortable to surrounded by poverty and misery. That eliminates some countries from consideration.

    The weather requirement limits me to specific areas of the earth.

    The first thing I check is the World Fact Book, to get a quick over-view of the political, economic and climactic situation. That eliminated a lot of countries right away.

    I've got a target country and I have book marked their page on the Weather Underground, and several times a day, I take a second to see what the weather is doing. I am writing this in February, so the weather right now is what I would be liivng in. Doing this every day eliminates the possibility of visiting the country when they are having an unseasonable week of excellent weather, and then discovereing too late that the usual weather is miserable.

    I was having trouble finding photos of the countryside in my target country, so I did a search for "pony trekking" in that country. Up came photos of what the countryside is like.

    A google search will find you blogs and discussion groups run by ex-pats in the country that you have interest in. Join, and you will learn all sorts of interesting things about the country and what it is like to live there.

    You Tube is a rich source of information. Youthful travelers love to take video of everywhere they have been and post it on the internet. It's a really good way to see what the local area is like, what there is for tourists to do, and even what a few of the more iffy areas look like.

    There is good information in the travel site blogs, too, but not quite as useful as the ex-pat discussion groups. Although, if you are buying with the intention of short vacation lets, then what tourists have to say about the area is very important.

    Many cities have their own official web sites. Those can be checked for information and photos. Buried deep in the municipal web page sometimes you can find information about local taxes. Keeping in mind that it is nice to be able to keep some of the money you make.

    The ex-pats will be able to tell you about local taxes, too.

    A little searching should reveal what a local real estate agent is called, so that you can search for local offices and see what the local agents are selling and at what price--- this can sometimes be considerably less money than the fancy agencies that target foreign nationals. It can sometimes give you an idea of what is selling. If there are hundreds of re-sale offerings in the very resort that you are considering, and if they are at a lower price, you will want to purchase locally at the lower price. If it doesn't make you suspect that maybe it isn't such a good investment after all. If there are lots and lots available for re-sale, maybe nobody wants them.

    Do a search on vacation rentals and see what comes up and what the rents are. You can tell from the rents how long the high season is by the dates that the rents reduce.

    At this point, I am getting serious, so I have called the airlines to find out about flights: their route, their costs, and (to me) most important, what does it cost to take my dogs with me, and how they will have to travel.

    On-line, I have checked local transportation: bus, car rentals, taxi. A local newspaper classified section on-line has shown me what it costs to buy a car there.

    I think I have learned just about as much as I can learn by playing slueth on-line, so now it is time to spend a couple of weeks there to see if the country lives up to expectations. I intend to go 2 years in a row, and live in a vacation rental to be absolutely certain that it is a place where I want to spend every winter (summer?) for the rest of my life.

    Probably for an investment property, one trip to view and spend a week or two would be sufficient.

    Am I doing a lot of research? You bet. It's a lot of money, and I have worked hard for my money. I don't want to make an expensive mistake.

    When I am ready to purchse, I will look at many properties. I will go out with an agent, and I will call for-sale-by-owner signs. I will carry a written list of my requirements, and check them off on each property so I won't accidentily buy a place, for example, without a washing machine hook-up.

    All of the preparation is how I get the best place for the best price, and how I am certain before I buy that the property is exactly what I want.
  2. Aegean

    Aegean New Member

    Good post - you're organised which many aren't
  3. oregon woodsmoke

    oregon woodsmoke New Member

    Organized is the place to be when you are investing money. It's too much risk for me, to just throw huge chunks of cash on a whim, and hope it works out.

    I'll risk $50 on a new restaurant without checking the reviews, and if it is no good, oh well. I've only lost $50, and I won't go back again.

    But $100,000 or $200,000 is too much money to throw away. I want to know exactly what I am buying. If you buy a house and discover you dont like it, you can hardly "just not go back again"
  4. Investy

    Investy Senior Member

    Yes it makes sense to be thorough.

    I would also add that for people who are investment minded, the length of rental season is crucial.

    In the UK one company in particular manages to fill thier beds all year round - 'Centreparcs'.
    You will find hotels close to Centreparcs that are empty off season - so why do people use Centreparcs year round?
    The answer lays in the massive amount of leisure facilities on site which access many more client profiles that a typical touristic solution.

    You can have the nicest villa in sunnybeach Bulgaria yet you will almost certainly have rental voids for at least 6 months of every year - that means no income for at least 6 months every year. This is common accross most touristic destinations of the world.

    With this in mind I sought a solution abroad that might offer a similar model to the Centreparcs model.
    It is'nt enough to have a golf course, a couple of gyms, a few shops and sauna. You need vastly more than this to extend the rental season.
  5. ovidiu

    ovidiu New Member

    good thinking

    I like the way you think. I'm new here and i see a lot of nonsense talking.
    I'm in real estate business in Romania for more then 10 years.
    This market here made me a fortune over the last years. I'm thinking to invest in Moldovia right now but i have to find a trust partner there because everything is ruled by Voronik and his son there.
    They have to aprove everything even to change the land from agriculture to intravilan.
    But still the market here is v good.
    I run now several companies from law firm to construction, athitect design and so on.
    Probably i will look at Dubai also. My partners there advice me on some good deals.

    Nice talking to you
    take care of your investments
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