IT ALL BEGAN WITH AN AUSTRIAN LAWYER
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).
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.
Our focus is financial. You may know what type of property you want. You probably don't know the rent you might earn in another country, what you'll be taxed, and what the landlord and tenant law is. We deal with these financials.
Why is property investment in another country sometimes a good idea?
- It can bring a good income.
- It can bring capital gains. Choosing a 'rising' country can maximize returns.
- Diversification. Any portfolio should have a range of assets (shares, cash, property).
Are we trying to sell you something? No! (Though we do carry agents' property listings, which they (not us) are trying to sell)
Are we 'objective'? Totally. We fervently believe in the 'fundamental investing' philosophy. We emphasize that to get a good return, it is essential to buy where there are high rental yields, low costs, low vacancy rates, and low taxes.
We're interested in being rational, as property investors. We've developed the world's only global rental yields database, researched by an in-house team. We've created the world’s first global database of transactions costs when you buy or sell housing.
In a lot of countries, you lose 20%-30% of a property's value merely by buying and selling it. That makes no sense.
Want to know more?
Our subjective judgment about the world’s best investment opportunities: GPG investment ratings
Or Just click the map to begin exploring
Write to [email protected].