Real Estate in the Wild West

“Buying foreign real estate is kind of like buying real estate in the Wild West. 150 years ago they probably didn’t have an MLS, local board of Realtors, or disclosure laws,” says foreign investment specialist Tom Phelan. I had the chance to catch up with him today and pick his brain.

As described by Phelan, the system of real estate ownership transfers outside of the US often differs drastically from what we are accustomed to. “The guy fixing your flat tire in Panama or someone in Italy selling you a bottle of wine is as apt to say that they have a cousin selling a piece of property [as any other person]”. Many countries do not require a license for one person to represent another in a real estate sales transaction for a commission. In some countries, mortgage financing is virtually nonexistent and title insurance may be unavailable. Because of these differences, Tom recommends that you always visit a foreign location before considering purchasing real estate there and also recommends not buying on the first trip.

Probably the most interesting topic of our conversation was the effect of the declining dollar on the prospect of Americans purchasing foreign property. “[Because of the declining US dollar] the window of opportunity is closing in some regions, but remains wide open in others”. One country that still remains extremely affordable to those spending US dollars is Argentina. In fact, Tom and his wife, Yvonne, are currently working on a 100+ acre vineyard project in the Mendoza province of Argentina. If you think owning a vineyard in Argentina would be cool, but don’t want to put the time and effort into it, Tom’s project may be right up your alley. He’s subdividing it into 5 acre parcels with a home site. Included in the price of the property (under $80k) Tom’s staff will manage the planting, production and bottling. For those who want an even easier turn key solution to bottling your own wine, he is selling wine club memberships that provide 240 bottles of your own privately labeled wine each year for 20 years.

We also discussed what an international traveler would expect in terms of medical care and quality of life. You may be surprised as Tom relates some personal stories. Keep a look out for the complete discussion to be released on UNLIMITED RETIREMENT ACCOUNT® Radio soon.

In my mind, investing in alternative assets is an effort to think outside of the box in order to realize extraordinary returns. If you haven’t yet considered investing outside of the US or at least outside of your local area, there is a whole other world of opportunity waiting for you.

Check out the web site for Tom’s vineyard project at You can also catch him speaking at the Global Real Estate Profits Summit in Cancun June 2 – 3.

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