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Essential Buyer's Guide for Overseas Real Estate

It's been said many a time that overseas real estate buyers leave their brain on the plane when they step out into the sun in their overseas destination of choice. They've already fallen in love with the country, its people, climate and lifestyle and they've come to snap up that dream home.

The trouble is the real estate agents in these popular destinations know that they have a captive buyer and so the buyer is in the ultimate vulnerable position! Add to this the fact that legal and financial processes differ from country to country and many people don't appreciate this fact and you have a real estate disaster waiting to happen!

So, here's the essential guide to buying overseas real estate to protect the unsuspecting buyer from unscrupulous sales techniques or falling foul of misunderstandings and misinterpretations.

1) Get yourself independent legal representation - do not take the recommendations of the developer or sales agent you're thinking of buying from, do your own research. Check out whether your country's embassy in your overseas destination of choice has a list of lawyers they recommend. If not then get on the internet, find forums and sites dedicated to your country of choice and ask the people on these sites for their recommendations.

2) Never assume anything! Purchase processes differ from country to country, legal processes differ from country to country and your rights as an overseas buyer differ from country to country. Find out from your lawyer what your rights are and how the entire process to purchase should proceed.

3) Have any financing you will require agreed in principal before you set out on your hunt for that dream home. That way you will have a fixed budget with which to work - do not be seduced by a salesman into extending that budget. He wants you to as he will make more commission but it will mean you put yourself in a potentially untenable financial situation.

4) Visit as many properties in your price range as you can in your time overseas. And before you even get on a plane to fly out contact as many real estate agents as you can find and insist they send you prospectuses of all properties within your price range across all the regions you're interested in. With this information to hand sit down and go through the properties carefully. Find out what your money will buy you at the bottom and top end of the real estate spectrum so that you know what you will be viewing when you get to your destination. That way an unscrupulous agent will be unable to convince you that an overpriced property is anything other than a rip off.

5) If something seems too good to be true it warrants serious investigation! Occasionally we can find a bargain in life, occasionally lady luck smiles on us and our fortunes change - but if you always remain a little suspicious and bring on board as many experts as you need to in order to research a seeming bargain you will avoid making a costly mistake and you might just prove that it isn't too good to be true, it's a genuine opportunity.

6) Get contracts officially translated before you sign them.

7) Get any conditions of the sale written into your contract.

8) If buying off plan insist you see previous examples of the builder's work and speak to customers who have already bought and find out about build quality, ongoing customer service throughout the build period and also about after sales care and the guarantees you get with the property.

9) Make sure the houses you're viewing are built to withstand any climate or environmental hazards, for example if you're in an earthquake prone country properties should be seismically reinforced.

10) And finally proceed with caution and don't enter into anything that you wouldn't entertain back home. Just because you're in a different country it doesn't mean you've become a different person, you're intelligent, savvy and wise back home so don't change!

Rhiannon Williamson is a freelance writer whose articles about buying investment property abroad have appeared in many investment and finance publications throughout the world. You can find more of her articles at:

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