Buying property outside the U.S. is growing in popularity
Q: Allison, I own property in Summit County and am considering buying property outside the country. Any suggestions:A: You’re not alone! Buying a second home is increasingly a matter of adopting a second country.According to Glen Roberts, Jr., about 4.1 million Americans reside at least part time in other countries, according to www.aaro.org/ Association of Americans Resident Overseas, with about 1 million living in Mexico and 688,000 living in Canada. If all of these residents living abroad were placed in one U.S. state, it would be the 25th most populous state in the country, the association reported. The statistics don’t include travelers who are visiting briefly and who don’t secure visas, and don’t include members of the U.S. military.”What we’ve noticed over the past five years the trend is definitely accelerating. Americans are buying second homes in droves internationally,” said Jeff Hornberger, international market development manager for the National Association of Realtors trade group.Latin American countries, and particularly those in Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean, are hot destinations for U.S. buyers, Hornberger said. There is more political and economic stability in the region than in years past, the dollar goes a long way, global travel to these destinations is quick and affordable, and baby boomers are looking for more than just homes on golf courses in typical U.S. retirement markets, he added.Also, in countries such as Panama and Nicaragua that are seeking to lure foreign buyers, “they are really rolling out the red carpet for Americans in terms of tax incentives,” he said.U.S. buyers tend to use these properties much as they would a second home in their home country. “A lot of folks are looking at seasonal homes. They want to close the door and forget about it when they’re gone, knowing that everything is going to be taken care of. There’s a guard at the entrance. You are in ‘U.S. suburbia.'”The International Consortium of Real Estate Associations, a group that includes participation from the National Association of Realtors, boasts “over 3 million properties around the world” at its Web site, WorldProperties.com. The group, known as ICREA, reports that globalization “has had an immediate and powerful impact on real estate markets, attracting the attention of real estate professionals worldwide,” and “the rapid growth of the Internet has made the international market accessible to millions of consumers.””The amount of construction happening in Panama there are a lot of new developments going up. The boom is happening right now. There are so many construction cranes right now that it’s amazing. It’s just a country that’s very comfortable for U.S. (residents). The U.S. dollar is their currency,” he said. “There are two oceans within an hour of each other. Financing terms are very similar to what we have in the U.S.” And there are direct flights to and from a number of major U.S. cities, he said Panama is a 2 1/2-hour flight from Miami.While Europe has also been a popular destination for U.S. residents to purchase property, the dollar has been weak against the euro for several years and air travel tends to be more costly and lengthy to European destinations.Real estate practices can vary dramatically from country to country, Hornberger said, and ICREA has worked to provide information to consumers and agents alike about the peculiarities of home sales in many countries. In addition to its participation in the international real estate group, the National Association of Realtors offers a certification program for Realtors who work with international properties, called www.realtor.org/cipshome.nsf/pages/AboutCIPS” t “blank” Certified International Property Specialist. There are about 1,500 Realtors who hold this certification.Tom Kelly, a real estate author and columnist who co-authored “Cashing in on a Second Home in Mexico,” said Panama is definitely a hot international real estate market. “Costa Rica continues to be hot but it’s kind of been found. Mexico is jumping up and down.” Belize, Panama and the Yucatan Peninsula region are becoming very popular, he said.”The Yucatan Peninsula is growing from Cancun south. Affordability is definitely a driver for U.S. residents who are purchasing property in Latin America, Kelly said, and the baby boomer demographic is another key driver. “Boomers will probably never buy their father’s second home on a golf course or by a quiet lake. They are into doing more things, more exotic things, and that’s why they’re looking abroad. They are all about experiences.”Affordability, proximity and good weather are all factors in drawing U.S. buyers to international real estate, said Jack McCabe of McCabe Research & Consulting in Deerfield Beach, Fla. “You can do a lot better now (in many other countries) than you can in California. Not everyone wants to be in an urban situation in retirement. Friends that I have … go down to Costa Rica and Belize. You can get there quicker (from Florida) than you can be in Washington, D.C., and New Orleans. It’s much closer for Californians to fly down to Mexico than it is to fly to Hawaii.”Our parents’ generation it’s hard to picture them living outside of the country. Now I think, because there is globalization, in every city now you meet people from all over the world. Americans are much more traveled. The Jet Age had a lot more to do with feeling comfortable in your surroundings. You feel much more relaxed (in other countries).”Q: I’ve heard some crazy stuff about Meth labs in homes affecting Real Estate prices and wonder how that affects us in Summit County?A: Homes that have been used to manufacture methamphetamine can pose serious health hazards to owners and new buyers. As a result, home buyers in Colorado can now request that sellers have a property tested by a hygienist to indicate the presence of methamphetamine – a drug that can cause eye, skin, and kidney damage, among other conditions, even in trace amounts. According to an article in the Denver Post by Chuck Plunkett, David Olinger, and Monnie Nilsson, a 2006 state law holds sellers liable if they do not disclose to buyers that their properties were once used as meth labs. The Colorado Real Estate Commission has gone farther by adopting a rule that requires every seller to make the disclosure but does not mandate that they do so if the home has been thoroughly cleaned. The cost of the cleaning work? About $10,000 to $30,000 – or more, according to Hazerv of Colorado’s Mike Helm. The cleaning can also involve the removal of all porous components by crews equipped with respirators and other protective gear. Carpets, padding, and drapes are among the items that must be replaced. Helm notes that contamination often is so severe that the home needs to be stripped to its studs. For answers to your real estate questions, call Allison at (970) 468-6800 or (800) 262-8442. Email at Info@SummitRealEstate.com or visit their web site at www.SummitRealEstate.com. Allison is a long time local in Summit County. Summit Real Estate The Simson/Nenninger Team is located at the Dillon Ridge Marketplace. Their long-time residency and years of real estate experience can help you make the most of any buying or selling situation. Allison is a Certified Residential Specialists (CRS), the highest designation awarded to a Realtor in the residential sales field. Their philosophy is simple, whether buying or selling, they understand that the most important real estate transaction is yours.
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