Real Estate Reference International Real Estate: What You Should Know Before Buyin
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  by Phillip Townsend

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  1. Do your homework. Familiarize yourself with the laws and customs of the country. Research the tax codes, currency restrictions, and the qualifications for residency. Having a local attorney is a must. Ask your real estate agent or a fellow expatriate to recommend an attorney. The local American embassy can also provide a list of referrals. If you plan of purchasing property in a place where English is not the official language, you should insist on a bilingual lawyer who is able to translate all relevant legal documents.

2. Research. Find out the specifics about your new home-to-be: from the local political and economic situation to the daily cost-of-living. The last thing you want is to sink money into a place that's unstable. Check out the U.S. State Department's site, www.state.gov, for up-to-date assessments of virtually every country.

3. Finding a realtor. Once you're ready to look at property, you'll need to find a competent local real estate professional. There are many horror stories of people who have either dealt with either unscrupulous or misinformed parties, costing them thousands of dollars (and in a few cases, their entire investment). Don't be one of those who learn the hard way. Some U.S., UK and Australian firms have representatives or prescreened affiliates abroad. In some countries (Mexico, Honduras and Bali, for example), real estate agents are not required to be licensed and con artists abound, waiting to prey on cash-rich foreigners. A good resource for competent real estate professionals is the International Real Estate Contacts list, which is available at: www.thegloballife.net.
 
     
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