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How to invest in international real estate

Real estate is one of the most stable and highest return investments you can make.

As with any investment, there can be market fluctuations, and no investment is 100% secure, but real estate is comparatively low risk and high reward. Investing in a tangible asset (land and buildings) means that even if the housing market drops, your real goods don’t change and can never plummet to the same extent as stock market trading.

If there’s a downturn in housing in the region in which you own real estate, you simply wait it out, and even if you choose to sell before the market picks up again, chances are you won’t lose significant money on the deal, and may simply make a modest amount instead of a dramatic gain. The only real way to lose on real estate investing is if assets in the region of your real estate investment are seized due to a radical change in government, or a disaster damages the physical structures, and you can easily manage that risk with insurance.

International real estate also has the potential to provide rewards in other ways. You might invest in an area that you travel to frequently or enjoy taking holidays in, saving yourself the cost of accommodation. You can rent out the real estate as a short-term holiday rental or longer-term lease to double your gains. This is true of both residential and commercial investment.

Use these five tips for investing in international real estate to get started:

Research the market

You need to understand the real estate market in the region you want to invest in, including anything that could have an impact on the value of your investment.

If you don’t already have an idea of where you want to invest, you might start with some research on which markets have stock available within your budget and offer the best-projected return on investment. You’ll also want to consider how attractive a given market is to renters, holidaymakers or your family if you’re considering occupying or renting it as part of your investment strategy.

Next, consider the regional environment. Are storms, floods, wildfires or other natural disasters a risk? Check the political environment for any red flags, such as agitation among locals or popular or political resistance to foreign investment. Is an increase in foreign buyers’ taxes or surcharges on the horizon? A real estate agent who specializes in this area can save you some time and energy in research, but it’s important to understand your market and investment, regardless.

Consider secondary income streams

Decide what kind of investment you want to make before starting the hunt. Potential income from holiday rentals or leasing will change your equation and open up higher value investment opportunities, but it’s up to you whether or not you want to take on property management duties, outsource them or avoid them altogether. Some foreign property investments are also available as joint ventures, where you band together with other buyers to share in the cost and reward.

Determine on-going investment costs

It’s critical to understand the total investment cost before jumping in. This is less of a concern if you’re investing in a group stock based on real estate, and more important if you’re making a solo or private investment. International regulations, tariffs, taxes and other unexpected fees and expenses are likely to be different to what you are familiar with at home. Consider ongoing costs for maintenance, repairs or property management to protect your investment.

Work with professionals

Especially for those new to international real estate investing, working with experienced professionals can help reduce risk and increase your awareness. Co-founder of Swan Holdings Group, Brian Weal, brings specialty real estate development and investment experience to his financial advising services. With a focus on mid to larger-sized developments and social housing, they emphasize experience in the market, extensive market research and the use of strategic planning tools to assure effective investments. Collaborate with experienced financial advisors and real estate investment specialists to make the most of your investment and avoid missteps.

Get insurance

If you’re investing in real estate on your own, prioritize obtaining and maintaining your insurance coverage. If you’re in a joint investment, make a point of asking about and confirming proper coverage. There are few things that can truly damage a real estate investment, but if something does happen and you’re not covered by insurance, you stand to lose significant sums.

Investing in international real estate should be done with caution, but the potential rewards make it well worth the effort. Research and consider working with experienced specialists to make the most of your investment and avoid costly missteps.

Elliot Preece

Elliot is the Editor at ABCMoney. He manages a team that writes and contributes to many leading publications across a number of industries.

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