international investing agentDear Investor,

What happens if you’re looking for property in a location that’s not on our beat? Finding a good real estate agent overseas should always be a top consideration.  Finding a good real estate agent overseas can save you thousands of dollars on you purchasing your international investments, travel costs and time of course.

Questions For International Real Estate Agents

Here are the top 10 questions you should ask any overseas real estate agent you’re going to work with:

  1. Is he licensed? Many countries don’t have a licensing system. In those that do (such as Panama and Brazil) you should only work with licensed agents.
  2. How many years has he worked in real estate? You can count years accrued as a constructor or builder, working as a sales agent for a developer, or as a serial remodeler and flipper.
  3. Does your overseas real estate agent have any local connections and how long has he lived here? If your agent was born in the area, married a local from the area or has lived there for a long time, he will usually have more in-depth knowledge of local market history, dynamics and pricing. And if things don’t go to plan, he’s more likely to try fix it instead of skipping town.
  4. How many listings does he have? In much of the world, there isn’t a Multiple Listing Service. Your agent will need to get out there and find good listings. That takes us to question #5…
  5. Will he work with other agents to get you the perfect property? Some agents don’t like doing this as it normally means a split commission – a lower fee to them. But some agents realize that customer satisfaction is a top priority. They’ll take the cut, hoping that your positive experience will lead to future sales when you tell friends and family how thrilled you are with your new home.
  6. What commission/fees does he charge? In most countries overseas, there’s an agreed percentage that agents stick to. In most, the seller pays the commission. But in some countries, both the buyer and the seller pay a commission. Find out not just how much you’ll pay, but also who pays, if it’s included in the purchase price, and if you’ll pay tax on it.
  7. Does he or one of his staff speak the local lingo? If you are wondering how to find a good real estate agent overseas, then this one is crucial. If they can negotiate with the locals, they’ll get a wider choice of properties and often a better price.
  8. Is he a member of a local governing body? Here in Panama, it’s called ACOBIR and it mediates disputes between agents and also between agents and clients. If you’re unhappy with the service you received, you can lodge an official complaint which the governing body will investigate.
  9. Has your overseas real estate agent got local market knowledge? Test him. If you ask about average prices per square foot in specific neighborhoods, rental rates or the best areas for re-selling, he should give you a ballpark answer straight away.
  10. Has he got happy customers? It’s always best to get written confirmation from previous buyers that they’re happy with the agent’s services.

One last thing to remember in your quest to find a good real estate agent overseas; it cuts both ways. If your overseas real estate agent gives you good service and finds a property for you, it’s not nice to approach the property owner directly and try to cut the agent out of the deal to save a few thousand dollars. I’ve seen this happen several times, only for the buyer to hit a glitch with the purchase, or need the agent’s help when it comes time to sell the property on.

Finding a reliable overseas real estate agent takes a bit of effort and patience, but it’s worth it – and it could save you thousands of dollars.

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