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Old 07-10-2010, 21:45   #16
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Local knowledge...

I did a lot of research into buying a nice piece of land in the Philippines.

The short results were that:-
* there were few actual titles
* real owners were often untraceable
* it was expensive for what you got
* locals resented foreigners buying up all the good stuff
* waterfront land has no security (always one open boundary!)
* access ranged from poor to non existent
* some local customs are very unsettling (keeping cocks that start crowing at 3:00am!)
* neighbors often disputed boundaries
* some foreigners ended as alcoholics and some ended up arguing with each other
* some disputes with locals ended up being settled with knives, bullets and/or matches.

The single theme that came out of it all was that before making any sort of major commitment to an area it would be very wise to go and live there first for quite a while. In a hotel or resort, then renting a house and so on...

So I brought a boat.
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Old 07-10-2010, 23:02   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Boracay View Post
I did a lot of research into buying a nice piece of land in the Philippines.

The short results were that:-
* there were few actual titles
* real owners were often untraceable
* it was expensive for what you got
* locals resented foreigners buying up all the good stuff
* waterfront land has no security (always one open boundary!)
* access ranged from poor to non existent
* some local customs are very unsettling (keeping cocks that start crowing at 3:00am!)
* neighbors often disputed boundaries
* some foreigners ended as alcoholics and some ended up arguing with each other
* some disputes with locals ended up being settled with knives, bullets and/or matches.

The single theme that came out of it all was that before making any sort of major commitment to an area it would be very wise to go and live there first for quite a while. In a hotel or resort, then renting a house and so on...

So I brought a boat.
Your good advice reminds me of an old joke.
A guy, arriving in Hell exclaims- "Hey! This place was nice when I came here on vacation!"
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Old 08-10-2010, 00:02   #18
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For an American, how about buying land in US possessions?
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Old 08-10-2010, 01:27   #19
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To buy property in a foreign country you should start by marrying a local.

Then, put all the property in her name.

Now, the hard part, keep her happy enough to that you aren't told to pound sand, with her keeping everything.

If marrying a local isn't in the cards, it gets risky.

It's easy to get along with the inlaws when neither or you speak the same language.
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Old 08-10-2010, 01:46   #20
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I own waterfront land in a formerly Communist country. It was more expensive than a similar piece of land would have cost anywhere in the U.S., except perhaps in the Hamptons. In this particular country the legal status of title is very strong, but of course you are always at risk anywhere if there is political turmoil. Its high cost was directly related to the strength of its title, and its accessibility to a major city.

Land is cheap in the U.S. because the market is efficient and a large part of land is actively traded. Land is surprisingly expensive in less developed countries because their markets are less efficient and less land is traded. Unless the title is dodgy. The average wealth of the average Mexican family is a lot less than that of the American family, but Mexico has plenty of rich people (much bigger difference between rich and poor there), and so demand among locals for really prime bits of real estate, including waterfront property, is not so weak as some people expect.

So, if your idea is to buy waterfront land in Mexico or Central America just because you think it is going to be cheap, forget about it. It will not be cheap enough to make up for its inaccessibility and/or difficulty and expensive of developing it and/or insecurity of title and/or difficulty or impossibility of getting bank financing. If you're motivated by practical reasons, then just find a less fashionable bit of Florida or Georgia or the Carolinas -- there's plenty on offer. It will be much cheaper and less risky in the long run.

If on the other hand you are simply in love with Panama or Belize or whatever, then by all means -- pay the price necessary to buy that land which doesn't have problems (or has the least possible problems) and go for it. Just be aware of all of the hidden costs -- not the least of which is the fact that you may never get any bank financing for any aspect of your project, and you may well have to buy the land and build on it with 100% equity.

In Mexico you can easily and legally buy waterfront land despite the protected zones -- through a bank trust. The reason why you don't here much about people doing this is that really desirable pieces of waterfront land with clean title which are not parts of Ejidos are bloody expensive.

Ejido Lands - Mexico ejido property - Socialist origins not capitalist

they are looking for land across the border because they think they can buy it for a song, but the only thing you can buy for a song is a bunch of problems.
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Old 08-10-2010, 03:15   #21
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You will get a local attorney and ask all the questions: Water, access, development rights, permits, surveys, taxes, etc. ... Of course this is rarely done, even in the USA, as folks are just too lazy.
And in some countries, local attorneys might be in cahoots with the developers, to some degree or another. Not to mention that attorneyship law might be different to how it is in your own country.


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The smart move is to not act on that impulse. You would just be asking for possible troubles/financial losses.
Yes. Amazing how many people buy property on impulse in holiday spirit. I'm not complaining about the commissions, and as long as these people can complete and hang on to the purchase for 10+ years it'll pay off. But hello ... often it's only luck that has them buying from a joint that actually gives them the deed. They could just as easily have walked into an office across the street or next door, where things run a bit "differently."


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The single theme that came out of it all was that before making any sort of major commitment to an area it would be very wise to go and live there first for quite a while. In a hotel or resort, then renting a house and so on...
Please do. And maybe learn at least a little of the local language, and build relationships with local service providers.
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Old 08-10-2010, 06:11   #22
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Here in the Philippine's foreign ownership of land is strictly forbidden...but there are ways around it, if you want usage.

You can own 'part' of the land, by setting up a corporation which you own no more than 40% of, and can also write directly into that corporation's bylaws/whatever that transfer of title/ownership/use must be at your discretion, making you essentially the controlling interest.

Another way to do it is to purchase the land in a filipino's name, and then have them grant you a 25 year complete lease with an automatically renewing additional 25 year lease. This gives you essentially your entire lifetime to use it as you see fit. An interesting side-note is that any and all improvements on the land (say, a condominium or small marina) can be directly owned by a foreigner, which can further insulate you against local politics and also provide some security for your investment.
Here in Thailand the situation is almost the same except you can get by with owning 49%. We own our house outright but the land is leased from friends.
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Old 08-10-2010, 06:44   #23
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The best way to find out about owning/purchasing a home/land in another country is to Google the name of the Country and "Ex-Pat" (ex-patriots). These are people who left their home country and are now living in the "foreign" country. Contained in these forums is a wealth of real time experiences living, working and buying property/homes.
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Old 08-10-2010, 09:48   #24
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Good feedback guys. I think one of the main things I'm gathering here is that I'm not going to really get anywhere sitting on a laptop in San Diego. If you want to find the right thing for the right price that's legit you need the local knowledge. Probably a lot easier to find cheaper stuff that way too.

But as someone said above, it's not even that cheap at all. Hmm.
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Old 08-10-2010, 11:45   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Boracay View Post
I did a lot of research into buying a nice piece of land in the Philippines.

The short results were that:-
* there were few actual titles
* real owners were often untraceable
* it was expensive for what you got
* locals resented foreigners buying up all the good stuff
* waterfront land has no security (always one open boundary!)
* access ranged from poor to non existent
* some local customs are very unsettling (keeping cocks that start crowing at 3:00am!)
* neighbors often disputed boundaries
* some foreigners ended as alcoholics and some ended up arguing with each other
* some disputes with locals ended up being settled with knives, bullets and/or matches.

The single theme that came out of it all was that before making any sort of major commitment to an area it would be very wise to go and live there first for quite a while. In a hotel or resort, then renting a house and so on...

So I brought a boat.

Amen!! wish I had read that before I arrived and bought into a resort
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Old 09-10-2010, 00:22   #26
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But as someone said above, it's not even that cheap at all. Hmm.
Actually ... depending on your definition, and especially on your time-frame, it really can be. Lots and lots of caveats of course, but it could be worth visiting a few places.

As osirissail says, do invest some time getting to know relevant ex-pat forums. (Lots of caveats *there* as well, considering which ex-pats actually have time and feel a need to participate in forums about being an ex-pat vs in forums about whatever they enjoy for its own sake.)
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Old 09-10-2010, 02:34   #27
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I dunno...there are stretches of beach in Palawan, Philippines for around $3/square meter with beautiful, white sand. Obviously there are ownership issues in any developing country, but it's pretty solid here once you learn the basics of the system.

And if you're ok with paying what amounts to a property tax (basically, there aren't property taxes in the Philippines for most properties...it's like five or ten dollars per year, even for some bigger 20hectare/50acre farms), you can even own the entire beachfront of your property. It's a cumbersome process, which involves greasing palms, but it can be done.
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Old 09-10-2010, 06:59   #28
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I did a lot of research into buying a nice piece of land in the Philippines.

The short results were that ...
... I brought a boat.
Excerpted from ➥ Basic Information about Property Ownership in the Philippines

General Rule of Holding or owning a Real Estate in the Philippines

1. General Rule only Filipino citizens and corporations at least sixty percent of the capital of which is owned by Filipino are entitled to acquire and own land in the Philippines.

2. Exceptions to General Rule Alien acquisition of real estate in the Philippines is allowed in the following cases:

a) Acquisition before the 1935 Constitution;

b) Acquisition thru hereditary succession if the alien acquires is a legal heir.

c) Purchase of not more than forty percent interest in a condominium project.

d) Purchase by former natural-born Filipino citizens subject to the limitations prescribed by law (Batas Pambansa 185 and R.A. 8179).

3. A Filipino who marries an alien retains her Philippine citizenship (unless by her act or omission she is deemed to have renounced Philippine citizenship), and may therefore acquire real estate in the Philippines.
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Old 09-10-2010, 08:30   #29
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My friend has just sold his land in prime location Venezuela. Chavez just about to nationalize all land.

I think buying land in any South American country is like buying stock options. High risk and high return, but not for the ignoranti.

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Old 13-10-2010, 11:56   #30
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The day of being able to buy acres of cheap beachfront in a tropical climate is over. Full stop. That being said, there are still smaller beachfront lots available at 'reasonable prices', although the most 'reasonable' prices are, as highlighted above, typically in places with ownership issues and unstable governments (although ignore the inflammatory and inaccurate comment about Chavez being about to nationalize all property in Venezuela - something he is not espousing and something which would have cost him even more seats in the September elections (in which he lost the important 2/3 majority of seats under their constitution and the popular vote - in a country where most people are landowners, or aspire to be).

In virtually all of these places you pays your money and you takes your chances. For obvious reasons, one has to be more than careful about purchasing a property that has no clear title, or which requires a local 'partner'; in addition, one must also be careful about non-resident surtaxes on the purchase of real property as this is, of course, something you will never get back on resale.

My suggestion is to check out properties on the internet (although they are almost invariably misleading at best), check out regulations for purchase by non-residents (most countries have realtors who can help with this) and then make a short-list of places to travel in order to assess if it is somewhere you would like to live, Consider prices and ownership rights, but also infrastructure, taxes, duties, immigration laws, health care, etc. Tread carefully indeed, weigh up the risks versus the potential benefits, but don't be scared off by the fears of others. Most people are afraid to take chances in life and prefer to cast aspersions on those who do, however well-considered their decisions may have been.

No, you are no longer going to be able to get acres of beachfront in paradise for next to nothing. But there are still opportunities out there that may meet your desires, at prices and at risks that you may be able to afford.

Cheers!

Brad
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