Mark Twain famously said: “Buy land, they’re not making it anymore.” He couldn’t have been more right.

Have you ever considered buying an investment property overseas? Anyone that has lived or traveled outside of their home country for a significant length of time should consider purchasing real estate abroad. Whether as a vacation home, rental income property or for retirement, there are many affordable options.

From a financial perspective, if all your investments (stocks, bonds, mutual funds, 401K, etc.) are in U.S. markets then you literally have all your eggs in one basket. Buying a property in another country gives you the opportunity to gain true investment diversity. With American real estate markets saturating, purchasing a property overseas is the only way for some to own a second/vacation home. The U.S. dollar is strong, and potential investors can take advantage of a low cost of living and favorable currency values in some locations. According to CBS News, the top places to invest in foreign real estate are Portugal, Belize, Nicaragua, Mexico, Panama, Dominican Republic, Italy, Colombia, and Turkey. By comparison, a waterfront 4-bedroom house in Florida can cost over $1 Million but, in Belize, a similar villa is only USD 300,000.

Purchasing a home abroad could be one of the biggest decisions you make in life, so you are going to want to make sure your finances are in order. Think about how you would pay for the new house. Most people use a HELOC, or Home Equity Line of Credit on their current home to finance their investment property because finding bank financing in another country for foreign citizens (with favorable terms) is very rare. You can also use your retirement accounts. One option is a 401(k) loan. The IRS limits the amount of a 401(k) loan to $50,000 or 50 percent of your vested account balance, whichever is lower. But if that’s enough for your property purchase and is the best way for you to borrow, you will pay the interest to yourself instead of the bank.

Did you know that you can use your IRA to purchase a property? IRAs do not allow borrowing like a 401(k). However, you can withdraw up to $10,000 for a first home purchase without incurring the early withdrawal penalty. And if you don’t plan to live in the property overseas or use it personally, you can purchase the property through your IRA. A third route is financing through a private seller. An example is if you find a property that needs some repair and don’t mind taking on a rehab project. The longer a piece of property has been on the market, the better the terms you will be able to negotiate with the seller. A typical term is up to 5 years while repairs are completed.

The location that you look to invest in is very important. It should be someplace that you enjoy and wouldn’t mind visiting multiple times a year. You can deduct the travel costs to and from your overseas property from your taxes. That is almost reason enough to buy! Some of the things to think about when choosing a location are: Is it in a safe location? How far is the property from the airport? What are your transportation options? Can you walk to grocery stores, restaurants, and shops? Is it close to the beach or other attractions? The answers to these and other questions will let you know if the property is worth investing your money in.

Additionally, you can earn rental income if you choose to use your overseas property for long or short term rentals with services such as Airbnb, Innclusive or VRBO. If you plan on renting out the property while you are away, you should take the time to choose the right property manager. Who you hire to manage your property is just as important as where you buy. Your property manager must be able to act in your best interest and protect your home. They will market the property and find tenants; collect the rent; inspect the property regularly for any necessary repairs; hire the cleaning service and also act as a barrier between you and any potential tenants should there be any disputes. Having a good property manager will alleviate so many headaches. Interview several before making the final decision. As an investor, having a property vacant for a while could cause financial strain, so you want to have it occupied as much as possible.

Besides just financial reasons, there are also many hidden benefits to owning international real estate. “Buying a piece of property in another country is a good strategy for diversifying your investment portfolio, but it’s much more than that too,” writes Kathleen Peddicord of U.S. News and World Report. “…you’re also reinventing your life. I’d say this is the real upside.” Have you ever wanted to learn a new language? Connect with a foreign community and pursue philanthropic efforts? Are you a foodie and like to try different ethnic foods? Interested in learning new dances and listening to new music? Do you have an eye for international fashion? Owning property overseas is a great way to enrich your life spiritually & culturally.

Bottom line, owning property abroad is a great way to grow your finances, earn additional income, set the stage for retirement and change your life for the better. In this current economy, the options are virtually endless. You are only limited by your imagination.




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