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The Story of Global Property Guide

Last Updated: Sep 25, 2007

Matthew pollock


I (and my wife) had decided to buy an apartment in Vienna's 7th district. Stylish but affordable, it was exactly the apartment (we thought) to attract young but prosperous tenants to swell our bank balance.

Everything went fine, until we got the lawyer's bill. Legal charges for the conveyance of an apartment costing 180,000: 10,000. Ouch!

Please understand: a conveyance is not a complex process. Usually it's done by a legal underling. Why so much, we asked? The young lady lawyer frowned and pulled out a very thick book, the All Austria Legal Compendium of Standard Scale Charges. Published after World War II, it states charges as a percentage of transaction costs in terms appropriate to 1947, but which, 55 inflationary years later, mean that all housing work had moved to the top of the scale. Austrian lawyers are bound by professional codes and face disbarral if they do not follow the scale charges. She was sorry, she said, but she had no alternative - not to charge us fully would be against the rules.


This led us to reflect - more or less, we were flying blind.

  • We didn't know what rent we'd earn in Vienna.
  • We didn't know what taxes we'd pay.
  • We didn't know about Austrian landlord and tenant law.
  • We certainly didn't foresee the lady lawyer's charges.

We had just gone ahead.

It was (of course) crazy.

But we realized too that tens of thousands of people are in the same position.

International property buying is here big time. British people buy in France, Spain, Portugal and in Bulgaria. Germans buy in Croatia. Asian entrepreneurs buy in Australia and Canada. U.S. citizens buy in the Caribbean.

Yet people often don't get the information they need. They rely on realtors, who are self-interested and frankly sometimes not even very well informed.

So we sat down and thought: What should we have known?

We drew up a list:

  • Can foreigners buy property?
  • Is property expensive or cheap?
  • How much rent can you earn?
  • Are buy/sell costs high?
  • How heavy are taxes?
  • Is the Landlord & Tenant law friendly?
  • What problems will arise when making a will?
  • Who can give advice (realtors, lawyers, accountants)?

This web site is the result. It's a work in progress - we'd really like suggestions for improvement (Contact Us).

Fundamental analysis

The best stock investors use a "fundamental analysis" perspective, which looks at investment from the point of view of risk and return. We want to bring a similar perspective to international residential investment. I hope you'll critique the Global Property Guide mercilessly so that we can make it better. It has the key tools we believe you need to buy income-generating property overseas, but other people have different ideas. Send in your thoughts, please!

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