Buying overseas real estate often comes with increased responsibilities. Hence you need an efficient local real estate agent
While you might be a real estate guru in your home country, buying real estate in a foreign country can get messy without a knowledgeable local real estate agents
Here are just three ways things could go wrong when buying overseas property:
Over-the-top valuations: A foreign buyer probably doesn’t have the stats on comps and recent sales that would help him make the best decisions on pricing. Locals might see this as a chance to price the property above market value. Without an agent on your side and banking on exchange rate advantages, sellers might feel justified to charge you more.
Taxes and paperwork omissions: In countries like Spain where there could be local rules and taxes regarding foreign home ownership, it’s easy to ignore a few details. Not having the necessary licenses and permissions can be very costly.
Lopsided Communication: Sure your developer wants to come to terms quickly, which you find appealing as you don’t want to hang around too long. However, you don’t want to sign any form or contract without understanding what it entails. It’s always important to get expert advice before signing on the dotted line.
You should have two people on your side when buying foreign real estate, a lawyer, to help with legal complications, taxes and paperwork and a real estate agent to guide you through the home buying process. You might want to ignore an agent’s services as a way to save on agent charges. But here are six reasons why hiring a real estate agent for foreign property purchases is vital:
- Full access to the market: Buyers in North America who work with agents have a full access to the Multiple Listing Service (A service that offers access to information regarding market value, comps and properties on the market). While some countries do not have a property listing service, a good agent will likely have a slew of properties and connections with other agents. This ensures he can secure a property that fits your criteria.
- Detect overpriced properties: Where there is no MLS to set pricing, sellers and their agent often pad the asking price on their properties. Especially when the buyer has no agent on their side. Even in countries with MLS, ignorance can be a justification for an agent to charge you up to 40% above asking price. You can take advantage of an agent’s market knowledge in this case. An agent has comps and data coupled with market experience and should be able to tell you instantly when a property is overpriced. However, do not neglect to do your own research about properties that catch your fancy. This will help you keep unethical agents in check.
- Help with securing mortgage: One of the risky aspects of buying property abroad is getting financing. When considering going for a mortgage, your real estate agent can give you the low-down on mortgages for foreigners. He or she might also be able to connect you with bankers. An agent can also facilitate your loan by helping you with the necessary paperwork. This is one major reason why the services of a real estate agent are invaluable when you’re buying a house overseas.
- Negotiating and drawing up an offer: Negotiating tactics you have mastered in the US might fail to work when negotiating with sellers in Japan. The reason is that there are culture and language differences which can be difficult to fathom. So instead of trying confrontation or hard sell tactics, it is usually best to hire a professional agent who understands your situation and can persuasively represent this to a seller.
- Help with finding good deals: You’re probably trying to scoop up a good deal on a property. However, it’s unlikely you’ll find great deals by driving around a neighborhood. Agents have connections with other agents and access to a lot of properties. Hence it’s much easier to find great deals by working with them.
- Recommend trusted professionals: A trusted real estate agent would probably have a number of reputable service professionals in his network from inspectors, lawyers, handymen, mortgage lenders etc… This would be highly beneficial since you have little experience in the neighbourhood and might be susceptible to pseudo professionals.
Caveat: When choosing agents to work with, work with vetted professionals. Don’t just go with the agent down the street as that might turn out costly. This is why we periodically recommend agents in select communities who are vetted and have significant market experience to make your foreign property dream come true.
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