How to Find a Home Overseas

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Finding a Home Overseas

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Moving to a new country is a daring and challenging task. One of the details that is complicated by an overseas move is how you go about finding and buying a home in a foreign country. But because you need to cross borders and expanses of ocean to get there, your new home may be difficult to visit and have drastically different ownership regulations than what you would expect in Canada.

You don't even need to be moving in order to consider buying a home in another country. You may simply want to own a vacation house in one of your favourite foreign destinations. Either way, you need to keep some things in mind when looking for a home overseas.

Know the country's ownership regulations

In order to move to another country, you probably have already considered the myriad of legal issues facing you. You need a passport and a visa. You need to apply for permanent residency in the target country. You need to contact the consulate and see what the immigration regulations and applications are like for the country that you plan on moving to. But after all of that is done, you need to see what you have to do to legally own property in that particular foreign country.

Some countries require foreigners to jump through hoops in order to own property within their borders. Some countries flat out outlaw foreign ownership. It is a good idea to research these policies for the particular country you want to buy in before you try to buy a house there.

  • Mortgages? It is important to note that traditional mortgage plans that you get in more developed countries are probably not in place in smaller countries. You may have to make a 40 percent down payment or even pay for the property outright in cash. It is often considered a luxury to own a house in a foreign country, and this is a big reason why. If you are moving to a bigger country with a similar culture to Canada, like Great Britain, then you can expect more traditional mortgage options.
  • Hire an international real estate agent If you don't mind paying the commission, a real estate agent with international experience, or experience with the particular country that you plan on buying in, can be extremely helpful. A good agent can sift through all the specific ownership regulations in a country and help find you a home within your budget much quicker than you would alone. Be sure to screen any agent before hiring, since you could potentially place a lot of the responsibility of finding a home with one of them. 

Finding the right home

Knowing that you can buy a home in another country is different from finding a good home. Again, a real estate agent can be very helpful here. If the agent has experience with the housing in your destination country, then he or she can point you in the right direction and even arrange visits to the neighbourhood. You don't want to make several overseas trips to search for houses, so it is important to make any in-person time in the country count.

  • Don't fall for local scams: If you are exploring the area, it is best to be skeptical of any real estate offered by locals. You are always going to be the target of scams when you plan on buying or moving internationally. You only should buy what you can see and not buy something that may be built at a future date. You are in a world with regulations and laws that you are unfamiliar with, so you are at a natural disadvantage.
  • Don't fall for online scams, either: You need to be similarly diligent when shopping for an overseas home online. You can't be too sure that any internationally listed homes actually exist or are available without thorough screening. Look for certifications and lots of details when viewing online profiles for international homes.  You should have plenty of pictures of a home and details about the acreage, cost, location, square footage, and the name of the owner on any reputable housing profile.
  • Be flexible: Just like any other home that you buy you're going to need to make compromises to find a home that works for you. You have a much smaller range of houses to choose from when you are searching for a house overseas so be sure to be flexible and only have a few high priority things that you consider must-haves in your new home. Chances are the location is the primary reason why you are buying a home overseas, so keep that in mind before you get too picky and miss out on a home abroad altogether.

Remember that you aren't familiar with the local rules and sellers and local real estate agencies may expect bribes. A home that could have a negotiable price in Canada may be sold to someone else without warning in a smaller country.

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on July 29, 2014 - Moving Expert
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