International Property Agents

 

International Property Agents and Estate Agents

If you are interested in buying property outside the United States, there is much to know about vast differences in real estate laws, tax laws, property ownership laws, how real estate agents work and their education requirements, and so much more.  And learning about these things in one foreign country may not help you at all in another, as all the laws are likely to be different from country to country.

Buyer agency is well established in the United States, however, it is either a new concept or completely unheard of in many foreign countries.

Canada
Canada seems to be slowly establishing interest in buyer agency.  There are an isolated few agents asserting they are buyers agents or exclusive buyers agents.  Working with someone who is strictly on your side, the buyer, is crucial as there is much to learn regarding teh real estate laws, how real estate commissions can vary between provinces and the lay of the land, as Canada has vast amounts of rural countryside make the lay of the land a knowledge of local information that is area/region specific a priority if you are a United States buyer.

It is becoming more and more popular for United States investors and retirees to look closely at Canada for investments purposes.  From that perspective, having a well-versed real estate attorney and/or accountant can ensure you have the most current information on two important considerations:  1)  Rental property; in Canada,  typically 25% of the GROSS rental income is taxed and required to be remitted each year.  Non-residents, however, can file a special form and pay 25% of the NET rental income.  There is also important information to consider regarding the types of rental property expenses that can be deducted and how they are applied and categorized.  2)  Sale of Canadian property is subject to a 50% withholding tax.  Knowledge of foreign tax credits and how they are applied to US citizens is crucial as well as knowledge about tax laws and how they apply to alternative real estate investments such as REIT’s.

Costa Rica
Costa Rica is quickly becoming a significant market for those interested in foreign investments and vacation homes.  Costa Rica does not have an MLS.  There have been efforts to organize a country-wide multiple listing service, but at the present time, this does not exist. One of the most important reasons for an MLS, is, (from a buyers perspective), you can access a tangible database of sales, both recent and historic AND you can see a countrywide list of all available properties – not just the ones being shown to you by over-eager listing agents wanting you to see only their personal listings.  An historic database of sales information would be critical in determining the actual fair market price of property you are interested in and ensuring you are not overpaying for it.   Therefore, it would be critical to enlist the services of those who possess the necessary skills and qualifications necessary to protect your interests as the buyer.  Keep these things in mind:  there are no laws currently requiring ANY real estate education or training and certainly no laws in place to protect foreign investors.  An attorney versed in Costa Rican laws and property transfers is absolutely essential in all real estate transactions.

The best possible course of action is to engage the services of established professionals who have specialized, local knowledge of properties for sale that may not even be advertised as such.  We can help you locate these professionals.

Mexico
Ahhh, the sand, surf & sunny beaches of our southerly neighbors has attracted real estate buyers and investors from all over the world.   It is critical in all real estate transactions in Mexico to understand real estate law and property sales taxation before making an investment there.  Specialized local knowledge, again, is critical in ensuring you are seeing the type of property you are actually interested in as well as knowing vast differences between the United States regarding everything from real estate title laws to the language barriers – often a challenge in Mexican real estate transactions as all the contracts are in Spanish.  Many real estate agents in Mexico possess bare minimum qualifications, as – once again, there are no specific laws yet regarding education or certification that distinguish those in business as licensed real estate agents.  There are literally hundreds of agents that can show properties, but there are significant differences in their abilities to properly hand the real estate transaction, where the Mexican government is concerned.    There is much to know about Mexican law regarding trusts, escrow procedures, mortgages and so many other subjects critical to successful understanding of Mexican real estate and transactions.  To complicate the situation, these procedures are often subject to individual interpretation by Mexican notarios.  So it can be said, that there isn’t even standardization with the national laws on the books as they exist in present day.  In every foreign real estate transaction, especially in Mexico, it is critical to enlist the services of an agent that is 100% dedicated to helping you in your real estate purchase and transaction.

Here at BuyerAgentSearch headquarters, we have Certified International Property Specialists on staff. Feel free to give us a call (800-383-7288 or 303-670-0246–we are in Colorado) or an email (info@buyeragentsearch.com) at any time to chat about your dream of possibly owning a luxury property or second home internationally. Ask for Kathleen. It is not as difficult as you might think, especially if you start out with the right international property agent that has your best interests in mind and experience in the local area.

Tax deductions for second homes can be significant. A property the author owns in Costa Rica costs around $3,000/year for all property taxes, homeowner association dues, and maintenance. Yet the tax deduction cut $2,100 off of my tax bill. With the other $900 gained in rental income, my second home costs virtually nothing to keep as a luxury property getaway.

 


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