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Caribbean Property Magazine’s April issue ran an excellent article on “15 CRITICAL QUESTIONS TO ASK WHEN BUYING OVERSEAS REAL ESTATE” which we summarize here. If you are considering a purchase outside your country of residence, read the entire article (click on the link) and it should help you avoid mistakes, or at the least, suggest research you need to do before you buy.

If you have found a property to interest you – whether condo, house, land for development, investment – look at the big picture and try to isolate yourself from your enthusiasm about the view, or price, or location. The country of your choice may be paradise, but it is still a foreign country.

1. Country Access – is there year ’round access to the area and how long will it take from the airport

2. Building Requirements – are there some, and if not, are there standards in place or deed restrictions

3. Sewage – is there a central sewer system, and if not, and you need to install a septic tank, require a “perk test”

4. HOA – is there a Homeowner’s Association, what are the fees (they will only go up), how financially stable is the association, and how much deferred maintenance is shown

5. Greenbelts – are there common areas, open space areas, a master plan – check the developer’s plans and programs for working with the community on a shared future

6. Amenities – what are they, what do they cost, what are the long-term maintenance requirements

7. Title – what type of guarantee of title will you receive, what language will be included for coastal laws and changing shoreline

8. Telecommunications – is there state-of-the-art telecommunication equipment in place or planned – check phone service, bandwidth, and service providers

9. Water and water pressure – is there enough fresh water and water pressure, does it plan for future growth, how will the growth be paid for – check pressure in any structure by turning on all the faucets and flushing at the same time

10. Hot water – check for hot water plumbing, and if building a new home, double check that hot water will be included

11. Infrastructure – does this include fiber optic, underground electricity, paved streets, sidewalks, storm drains, high-speed internet access – don’t take any of this for granted, and make sure the development has planned for these services or find out how the homeowner will be assessed

12. Assume nothing – you probably will be an off-site owner while your new home is built – who will oversee construction, what avenues of communication will you use, check references of the developer and builder – make sure you verify the plans for proper wiring, air conditioning, dryer vents, etc. – take nothing for granted

13. Development Company – check their financial condition and references – realize financing is unusual so the developer may provide buyer financing – how will this affect their balance sheet

14. Safety and security – if you want 24/7 security, double check it will be part of the property maintenance and cost

15. Health care – Most major Latin American cities have state-of-the-art medical facilities, but if you purchase outside these, it may be a distance to good health care

As the author concludes, “Much of the world outside North America and Europe is the land of ‘Buyer Beware.’ Be sure you know the answers to these important questions and make a conscious decision about what levels of creature comforts are mandatory and which may be optional for you…An educated buyer is a happy owner. There are items you may take for granted that will not be the standards in other countries.”

Contact your local Coldwell Banker office for help with your research and investigation into answering these questions. All of our agents are knowledgeable about their local areas and laws.