Imagine this scenario:
You’re sitting at home searching online for real estate in San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua.
Your web browser opens on an ocean view condo. It looks like it has a well-designed floor plan and exactly the kind of kitchen you’re looking for. You squint at one of the photos to see if that’s a surf break visible from the bedroom window.
You picture yourself on the wide deck entertaining your friends at sunset before strolling down the road to a beach-side restaurant, where a meal for two costs $15.
Best of all, the property is well within your reach financially.
You fire off an email to the seller.
Virtual real estate shopping is fun. But don’t kid yourself that doing Internet research is enough to find out about the best deals, the breaking opportunities or the motivated sellers.
There’s only so much research you can do from your armchair. After all, properties don’t exist in a vacuum. They live in countries, areas and communities.
You need to get on an airplane.
Your best research will come from having boots on the ground where you are looking to buy property.
You need to walk through the condo, look out of that bedroom window, run your hands along the kitchen counter-tops and see if you can fit a table for 6 on the deck. Then you need to see another property to compare the options, followed by another, and another…
It’s also important to take stock of the bigger-picture. Check out the local market, try the food, breathe the air and soak up the culture. It’s all part of measuring the desirability of your potential investment spot and seeing if it stacks up against your investment goals.
In other words, be a member of your own market. It will either feel like a good place to invest; or it won’t.
While you’re on your reconnaissance mission don’t forget the golden rule of international property investing: Pay for what you see.
If a clubhouse has been built, you’re buying a clubhouse; if the road to the condo is paved, you’re buying a paved road. There could be talk of a new marina or a golf course, but if you don’t see a marina or a golf course, don’t factor them into the price you are paying. The earlier you buy in the roll-out of a project master plan or the development of an area, the bigger the discount you should enjoy.
Ultimately you need to get the lay of the land before committing to a property purchase. Visit the location yourself, walk around, talk to local property experts and attorneys, expats and waiters. (In San Juan del Sur get a head start by checking out the “7 things you must not miss”, or by downloading The Insider Guide to the region)
Yes, travel and adventure are the perks of overseas property investing…
It’s how you build your market knowledge to be successful as a property investor.
It works every time, regardless of language or location.
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