Things to Consider
when buying foreign property
By Colleen Valerio
As an ex-pat, I saw the Dominican Republic as the best balance in the title system and security of investment, which were key elements for me. Fortunately, this country offered that and much more. I am very comfortable and happy with the security of the government and how it’s invested in trade agreements with North America.
But, is that it? Many things need to be taken into account when buying foreign property. Therefore, we prepared a shortlist of what we’ve determined to be the most important:
The first and foremost thing that I think is important is you need to check out the government. What is the government? Is that a stable government? When was the last time it had a coup? What’s its stance on drug lords? What’s its stance on crime? What are the crime stats? What are they doing about it? Are they investing in their people? Are they foreign investor-friendly? Do they want you to come to someplace? Say they do but they make it tough on you when you get there. Also, check what the government’s infrastructure is like as it pertains to you as a foreigner and the second one if you’re buying property, what is the title system?
In many countries you don’t own it, you have a life lease or a bank trust. I know that that’s okay for some people. I want to own it. Here, in the Dominican Republic, they’ve based the title system, very much on the Canadian title system. They redid it a few years ago and went back and resurveyed the entire country to make sure that they had done it properly. These were really big signs to me that they were looking for foreign investment here and they were willing to do it.
None of us want to pay tax. We all want to pay as little as possible and keep that money in our pocket. This country makes it easy and simple. In addition, when you own real estate you have the same legal rights as a Dominican citizen when you buy. If we end up in a dispute say in court or something you have the same legal rights as a citizen here, which is another one. Residency is another large thing to consider. If you’re going to spend several months in any country, most countries expect you to have a residency status of some sort. Dominican residency it’s a simple process, they’re looking to see that you can support yourself. When you live in the country they want to make sure you don’t have a criminal record, that you don’t have AIDS or hepatitis C.
The DR makes it very simple and accessible to get a proper residency status to be able to live here full-time. This does not affect your citizenship in any country that you come from. It just means you’re allowed to live here. If you choose to become a permanent resident after, you can go on and become a citizen of this country, which brings me to the other thing that I think people need to consider particularly in third world countries is security.
Check out our video on all things to consider when buying foreign property:
Security & Crime Rate
We recommend being in a gated community for several reasons. One is most of the people that buy here don’t end up living here full-time, not away, or maybe even ever. So, you know, when I have a property in Canada, someone checks on my property, when I’m not there, it’s advisable to leave any property sitting on looked at for months on end because even if it’s not break-ins, that’s going to be when your toilet backs up when something goes wrong, you know, and your insurance is null and void. So we always recommend being in a gated community, somebody’s watching your property here too.
This is a very safe country. Crime is another key thing to consider. What is the crime rate? Is it safe to walk down the street in the middle of the day or the middle of the night? Anything here is petty crime. Every country has some crime but here, it’s going to be you come home and your laptop’s gone, but the truth is this is what a gated subdivision does to protect you from those things as well. But the safety factor here is, it’s very safe. I’ve been here for 14 years and have never had a problem, my grandson lives here. It’s a very safe country, but we still recommend that you are in a gated community.
Also, the guards where we live they’re trained in CPR. They are trained for when renters are renting there, should we have domestic disputes. There are all sorts of things that can happen when you have 300 houses all put together.
The other thing about investment is, look at resale. How long does it take to sell? If you buy it, it’s great, but if it takes five years to sell your house or your condo moving forward. That’s a problem. Check out what resales are doing. Check out the economy, check investment coming into the area. You want to be in a place where other money is coming into the area that you’re in. What’s nice here is it’s been just a nice steady incline since I came 14 years ago, which is great.
What I think is important, is medical: We’re not getting younger! Having very good medical services, being able to get your prescriptions, you want to be able to find a doctor that can communicate with you and speak English and have the proper field, access to tests, and that you can communicate back to your country’s doctor. Should you go home for the summer? These are all really important things that people don’t think about because they’ve fallen in love with the beauty of the place, but I always have to stop and turn them around and say, yeah, but you got to think about this.
I always hear about people, we bought this little house and this little town and wherever and I’m like, what are you gonna do? You know, what do you do? I like my quiet, but I also like having friends. Where we live at Casa Linda, the doors are open come on in. If it’s closed, leave us alone. So it’s a very active, very welcoming community full of people who have a diverse group of interests. So whatever you’re into, you’ll have someone that’s doing it too. But that’s the nice part about being here is, it’s such a diverse amount of real estate condos over there. You want to be on the water. You can always sell your place and buy-in another place. You have a lot of diversity here, and that’s the beauty of the North Coast.
If you are planning for retirement or seek a home base with a lower cost of living, it’s time to check out the Dominican Republic! ? Learn more about Dominican features and amenities through our video series “Buying Real Estate in the Dominican Republic”.
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Colleen Valerio, Marketing Director
Originally from western Canada, Colleen came to the DR over 15-years ago. She has been helping buyers find their tropical dream homes ever since.