What to Know Before you Buy - 5 Key Points
When you’re purchasing property in a foreign country, you need to step back and remember – you’re not in North America anymore. Between language barriers and very different real estate laws, it’s easy for your International purchase to get complicated. Knowing what you need to understand before even getting to that point is key in ensuring a smooth, stress-free buying process.
Attorneys – Similar to North America, it’s easy enough to find an attorney. What’s not easy is finding an attorney you can communicate effectively with and trust. Utilize your developer to help you find an attorney that suits your needs. Chances are, they will have someone they frequently work with.
Complete cost for your property – Talk to your attorney about all the charges associated with purchasing a property. Are there transfer fees, taxes or closing costs? What about property taxes or condo fees? Is there a monthly or annual cost associated with buying on the beach? Understanding all of the costs associated with purchasing your retirement or vacation home will ensure an affordable venture doesn’t all of a sudden become a financial burden.
Contract clauses and penalties – Go over your contract with your attorney with a fine-tooth comb. Ensure all the required clauses are in place and that you get title when you close the sale. If there are any penalty clauses, make sure they are applicable to not only you, but also the seller. If you’re buying a pre-construction property, discuss any possibility of additional costs when you close with your developer.
Know the legal system – Common law is what you’re familiar with in North America; this is not the case in many Central American countries where civil law applies. Essentially, if you sign a contract, that’s it. No do-overs, no opportunity to change things. If there is an error, or you wish to make changes after the fact, you will not be able to. This goes back to the first point of understanding your attorney – ensure you have a clear understanding of what you’re signing and if there are changes, make them before you sign.
Know what you’re purchasing – Of course, you know what you’re purchasing… a house, property or condo, right? Well, partially. It’s imperative that you know you’re buying freehold titled property otherwise someone could come knocking at your door with proof that they in fact own the land or home.
Without a doubt, purchasing property or a home in a foreign market is nothing like doing the same in North America. That doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be an easy and stress-free experience though. You’ve no doubt noticed that in many of the above points we referenced your attorney. This is the key to ensuring a streamlined experience.