Thinking of Buying Property Outside the US? What Should You Consider?

Even if you've bought and sold multiple pieces of property in the US, navigating a foreign transaction can be a different world—sometimes literally. If you've begun to consider buying a vacation home, retirement home, or even your new primary residence outside the US, you may be wondering what to expect from this process or even whether a foreign purchase is a good idea for your situation. Read on to learn more about the factors you'll want to consider when deciding whether to venture into a foreign purchase and where to get started.

How can you decide whether purchasing property in another country is a good idea?

First, you may want to evaluate what has prompted you to consider a foreign purchase—whether the desire to have a retirement home in a country with a more favorable tax rate or cost of living, the yearning to own property in your country of origin, or even a desire to leave the US's political or economic climate. 

If you're purchasing only to escape something—rather than to run toward something else—you may not find the additional hassles of a foreign purchase to be worthwhile.

However, those with strong ties to another country or who have factored in cheaper vacations or a lower cost of living in retirement to their long-range plans may find a foreign purchase invaluable.

What should you consider when deciding on your next home? 

Once you've taken the preliminary steps of choosing a country, researching whether foreigners in your retirement country of choice are allowed to own (or finance) property, and determining your financing options, you'll then want to begin shopping for homes in your stated price range. 

During this process, it's important to have "feet on the ground" in the area. Even if you're unable to see your future home in person before putting in an offer, having an agent or other designee is a lifesaver. They have fiduciary responsibility to perform a quick inspection, and give you his or her impression of the property's durability, the safety of the surrounding neighborhood, and other factors that could impact its value and your own comfort. This is crucial to ensure you don't wind up stuck with a "lemon" of a home from half a globe away.

You may be able to hire a real estate agent from abroad or even rely on friends or family members in the area to scope out your potential options and give their thoughts on property for sale.