How to Buy International Real Estate

A beautiful Bahamian bungalow or a Spanish seaside condo? An apartment in Toronto or a modern house in Ecuador

Once you find the international property you want, you’ll know. But then what?

Countries Where Americans Can’t Buy Real Estate

Vietnam is the only country where you flat-out cannot buy a property. This is because all land is owned collectively — even native Vietnamese citizens cannot own property.

However, there are a few countries where, while not impossible, it’s pretty tricky for a US citizen to buy real estate overseas.

  • Greece: A bit easier if you’re part of the EU, not so much if you’re an American. The birthplace of Rome has tons of zoning restrictions due to its archaeological history. Mortgages in Greek are also notoriously hard to come by.
  • Thailand: The only way a foreigner can own land in Thailand is if they form a corporation — and that corporation requires 51% ownership from Thai nationals.
  • Mexico: Probably the least tricky of the four, but purchased land must be in an unrestricted zone.

Best Countries for Buying International Real Estate

There are a lot, but Belize is pretty popular for US citizens. It’s a gorgeous country with phenomenal beaches and marine life, it’s not too far from the states (less than 2½ hours flying from Houston, direct!), and it’s an English-speaking country.

Paying for International Real Estate

Nearly always, you’ll need enough money to buy the property outright (or enough to almost buy it outright). Financing is typically challenging or met with insanely high interest rates.

What to Look for in a Foreign Property

Just like buying in the US, you want a property that’s in good condition and in a solid location (or at least, a location that meets your needs). 

However, you also want to make sure you’re buying a freehold property (a property that you own entirely and that you have rights to use as you please, as long as it’s in accordance with the law).

Buying a freehold property isn’t always possible, and that doesn’t have to spell impending doom. Just know what you’re getting into and understand the limits in place for a property that’s not freehold.

Who to Hire When Buying Foreign Property

Here’s who to assemble when buying property overseas:

  • Local lawyer: Someone local to the area where you’re buying.
  • US accountant: Someone who specifically has experience in international real estate (if they have experience with your country of preference, even better).
  • Local real estate agent: Use RealtyHive to find an agent — we can find an experienced agent in practically any location.

What to Use Foreign Property for

Most often, people use foreign properties for vacation or rental purposes. However, this doesn’t mean you can’t relocate to a new destination — we applaud your adventurous spirit!

Some people even purchase land abroad solely for protective purposes. If buying near a coral reef or forest, you could speak to the local authorities about conservation efforts. Whenever we have the means to help the environment, we should do what we can.

Beginning to look for international real estate? Check our overseas listings! Ready to make a purchase? Let us help you find an agent! Get started on buying property overseas today with RealtyHive.

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