The United States and Canada have long been destinations of choice for many international investors, but the numbers of investors coming to North America to purchase homes and other real estate increased significantly in the aftermath of the U.S. housing crisis from 2008 and beyond. From as far away as China and as close as Mexico, foreign investors bought homes by the dozens with the hopes of buying low now to sell high later.
A survey of members of the Association of Foreign Investors in Real Estate reported that while London was the number one city for foreign investments, the U.S. remains a 'stable and secure’ place for real estate investing by a ‘wide margin’, and that it tops the market in the areas of ‘capital appreciation’ and future investment potential.
That being said, there are still a growing number of U.S. investors who prefer investing on international soil for reasons ranging from dreams of retiring in a tropical paradise to chasing high returns to returning home to native lands.
If you fancy profits from across the seas, here are ten of the top twenty locations for international real estate investing:
Topping the list is beautiful Barcelona, Spain. The Spanish government is said to be courting overseas investors with its so-called ‘Golden Visa’ system introduced in October, 2013. The new visa allows foreign investors who purchase at least 500,000 euros' worth of property anywhere in Spain to travel freely throughout Spain without the hassle often associated with Visa application. The 500,000 euros purchase can include more than one property. Reportedly, the Spanish government is trying to sell off some of its homes still suffering from the housing crash a few years back.
2. French Riviera
Another dream destination coming in second on the list, the French Riviera. It’s hard to imagine that this breathtaking location would need any more incentive than its sheer beauty to entice real estate investors, but experts say some foreign investors are especially attracted to the recent 25 percent reduction in capital gains taxes. After all, beauty is seldom a match for dollar signs in the eyes of the astute investor.
Grenada or the 'Isle of Spice' as it is otherwise known, is reportedly introducing a ‘Citizenship by Investment’ program to lure foreign investors to its’ magical island. Any investor who purchases real estate on the island of Grenada will automatically be granted citizenship. Grenada remains focused on its attraction to tourist and has recently begun focusing on attracting wealthy investors from other lands.
The leasing market in Tuscany makes it the number four contender and a particularly enticing buy for foreigners along with its beauty and reported favorable amendments to the real estate tax system. According to local Tuscany real estate agents, there are many cheap areas in Italy where foreign investors are purchasing and holding for vacation homes and buying farmland to turn into bed and breakfast inns.
Overseas purchases rose in Turkey by 78 percent in the first half of 2013 with the city of Istanbul leading the way. Most of the new investors have been from the Middle Eastern countries. A one-bedroom apartment in the Bahcesehir area of Istanbul can be purchased for about $85,000 – a real steal for any foreign investor.
Funny hats aside, Panama has a lot to boast for foreign real estate investors. The government is stable, GDP grew at a faster rate than China's last year, and there is even a tax-free zone of Colón, all in addition to its breathtaking views and pleasant climate. Homes here are still affordable, but that won't last forever.
Experts say current prices in Liguria are the lowest since 2008 and is one of the places where foreigners can invest for less than $200,000. This seaside region of northwest Italy is stunning, and boasts Genoa as its capital.
According to the World Travel and Tourism Council, Montenegro is expected to be the fastest growing tourist destination in the world and may just be the place for international investors looking for the ideal buy and hold investment. Prices are reportedly continuing to rise, yet still remain less than neighboring Italy and Croatia.
9. Zell Am See
Coming in at number nine is Zell Am See, Austria with its real estate gems scattered throughout the country. While prices continue to rise, this country still has some good buys and investors are cautioned about its strict leasing (letting) laws which makes older properties with letting permissions already in place a hot commodity. Although prices continue to rise, experts believe this may be a perfect location for investors who are interested in longer-term investments and resort properties.
Last, but certainly not least is our number ten on the list, Mauritius. With its strong rental market, Mauritius rounds out our top ten list of international investor treasures. The wonderful news about this enchanted island is that buyers qualify instantly for residency as well as tax benefits.
Here is a more extensive list of places where U.S. dollars can buy a slice of paradise on foreign soil.
Are you investing abroad or ever considered it? Do any of the countries listed appeal to you or somehow fit in with your investment goals?