Ensuring a safe international property transaction

It has often been said that buying a property is one of the largest financial investments most people will make in their lifetime. 

Such a considerable financial outlay compels most buyers to take the time to do the necessary research in order to ensure the property investment is a good one that will show solid returns on investment over the long term.  James Bowling, CEO of Monarch&Co - a market leader in facilitating residence and citizenship programmes through investment - says that research and due diligence is even more important when it comes to international property transactions, which commonly form part of investment requirements for various residence and citizenship programmes.
“Despite the fact that today’s property buyers and investors are savvier than ever before when it comes to sound investment practices, it’s amazing how many people still get conned by fly-by-night operations. This is something that could easily be avoided with a little research into the company that is facilitating the international investment,” he says.

Bowling points out that whether an investor is buying a property locally or internationally, it is crucial to undertake the necessary research to ensure they know exactly what they are buying into. Dealing with professionals who facilitate the transaction - whether it be estate agents or developers, lawyers or immigration specialists - should not be negotiable.

Bowling says that one way to ensure that you are dealing with a reputable international investment company is to check that they are members of the Association of International Property Professionals (AIPP), the industry body for the international property market. Bowling explains that in a largely unregulated industry, AIPP members voluntarily agree to follow a professional Code of Conduct.

“AIPP membership means that a company must follow professional standards and act with honesty, integrity and transparency. AIPP members have been vetted and approved, and they have voluntarily agreed to follow and be bound by the industry Code of Conduct,” he says. “AIPP's qualification requirements are based on professional experience and all member companies agree to be bound by its disciplinary and dispute resolution procedures.”

Aside from reassurance of professional integrity, investors who work through a company which is an AIPP member also have recourse to the AIPP if problems occur.

“While an independent study showed that 85% of buyers felt more reassured when they invested through a company that was an AIPP member, just because an investment facilitation company is a member of an industry body or organisation does not negate the buyers’ responsibility to do the necessary research and ask all of the essential questions concerning their investment,” says Bowling.

He says that buyers have a responsibility to protect themselves when they purchase property internationally, just as they do when they purchase a property locally. He gives some key areas that potential investors should explore before committing themselves to using the services of an international investment facilitator:

§  Make sure you work through professional investment facilitators, estate agents and developers. One way to determine this is by checking their membership status with the relevant professional industry bodies

§  Ask questions about the company and its track record.  Do some research online where both the company and its directors or founders can be researched

§  Ask for client testimonials

§  Some facilitators provide a more comprehensive service offering than others, so find out in detail about the services the company offers and what exactly it entails. It’s always best to get details on the company’s service offering and terms of business in writing

“There are many considerations to take into account when looking at purchasing an international investment property. It’s therefore also important for the company facilitating the investment to glean a sound understanding of what the investor is trying to achieve as well as what they are looking for in a property. As an AIPP member, Monarch&Co guides its clients through this process with its team of select international partners and specialists, who are ideally placed in each country where investment options are offered, in order to address all enquiries with detailed feedback and fulfil all investment requirements,” Bowling concludes.

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