Let’s talk about buying properties internationally.
Guys, I’d like to consider myself a pretty well-traveled person. I remember that my mother and I would constantly travel back and forth between Australia and Europe, and I was fortunate enough to play professional soccer when I was 18 and lived in Hong Kong.
Right now, my mother is living in Croatia, my dad’s in Australia, and I live in the U.S. I also own real estate all over the world. So, one of my hobbies is looking at deals worldwide and getting into the nitty-gritty of that particular country.
As a kid, I remember always having the fantasy of traveling the world with an empty briefcase and then getting to a destination where I would have a piece of property waiting for me. So, it was something that I kind of took on in the latter part of my life. My circumstances allowed me to do these awesome things.
Right now, I own a property in Croatia, I own a property in Japan, I own three properties in the Bahamas, and I’m looking for something in Australia. I’m always shopping and looking. So, I’m pretty well-traveled and I know a thing or two about buying properties internationally.
Tips for Investing in Real Estate Outside the U.S.
Another thing is that through my turnkey company in the U.S., I have spoken to many investors who live abroad but have invested in the U.S. Look, every country has its own rules and regulations. That being said, the first step of buying a property overseas would be to figure out where you want to buy and why you want to buy there.
For me, it was just one of those things where I was randomly looking for deals. I started to set up relationships, one thing led to another, and I ended up buying a property. The Bahamas was a long-term dream of mine, so that was kind of planned, but the Japan purchase wasn’t.
Buying property for the sake of just buying it is pointless. I think that you’re just adding a junk asset to your portfolio, which is not going to help you attain financial freedom. It’s not going to help you get closer to where you need to be. There needs to be a method behind your madness.
Another thing that you need to focus on is to make sure not to jump into anything. Learning a new market and country can take years. Like anything in real estate, there is only so much you can do when it comes to online stats, demographics, and the projections of where the economy is going and all that. I really think that you need to focus on building trust and relationships with key individuals in a specific market before you take the plunge and buy a property.
I think the most important person when purchasing internationally is a real estate attorney. In Australia, for example, you cannot buy a property—there are no title agencies there, so a solicitor will do the closing. Ultimately, the solicitor will look after your best interest. Some of the things in the Australian market have changed recently, and there’s a very high stamp duty that you need to pay. I think that the laws have changed now for foreigners looking to buy. So, not as many foreigners can buy as swiftly as they could back in the day.
I know a lot of countries have similar restrictions. For instance, in Japan, when I submitted offers on a few properties, the folks there did not want to sell to an American man or Australian man. I’m not sure why, but there must be some sort of prejudice there. They were like, “It doesn’t matter how much you pay. We don’t want to sell him a property.”
So those are things you need to understand, too, because there are a lot of cultural differences in some of the markets.
Cuba, for example, I did some research on that market, because I think there is a lot of opportunities there. But due to the embargo, you cannot own a property in your name. However, you can literally buy waterfront properties in Havana, where I have traveled a few times, for $5,000 to $10,000—it’s unbelievable. I think if they ever lift the embargo, there is a lot of potential in Cuba.
In the Bahamas, everything is on island time over there. It can take six months to close on a purchase. I also think there are some amazing opportunities there. Multiple hurricanes and the global financial crisis have put the Bahamas on its knees, and so there are a lot of cheap waterfront properties. I own a few condos there; it’s amazing to be buying there right now.
Croatia, where my parents are from, is a very cheap market to live in. You can live the life that you want for $2,000 to $3,000 (U.S) a month. You can buy an amazing property for $100,000, and you’re within a five-hour drive of Italy, Austria, and Slovenia. These beautiful countries have a lot of skiing, great shopping, and great things to do. Once again, there are certain things in every market that have charm, but they also have restrictions on what you can and cannot do as an international buyer.
What you need to take away from this blog is that you need to find the right people. Like with any business venture, the same goes for investing in any other market. Team up with the right people and do your due diligence as much as you can online. But, at the end of the day, find the right people who you can trust who are going to be your eyes and ears and heart and soul on the ground. Another thing you have to do is travel there, and visit the market. You need to understand it, and go there multiple times before you invest or purchase.