Is Everything Going South?

By: Marc Talon

A lot of North Americans are thinking of second homes and a lot of North Americans are thinking outside of North America.

Homes south of the border have been enjoying a boom as realty markets have thrived, often due to the large population of baby boomers starting to look for second homes.

Many southern area homes have shown themselves to have a more healthy appreciation than U.S.A. realty at the moment. Such places as Mexico, Costa Rica, Belize, Panama and the Dominican Republic are all reporting increases of home sales even higher than 50%.

Not only do these areas concede that the increase in sales is due to North American buyers, they actually target the market to ensure that they have foreign investors from U.S.A. and Canada.

So what else brings people away from their homeland? We all know the weather is warm and sunny the further south that you go. We also know that the daily cost of living is generally cheaper, especially if you eat local food.

There is no doubt that one of the attractions must be from the investment point of view. Buying real estate is probably the largest investment that most of us make, so we want to feel that our money will be safe and also growing!

Areas in Mexico, Dominican Republic and Costa Rica have reported a 20% increase over the last few years, great returns, but are there any snags?

One of the biggest pitfalls is that when complexes and resorts are offered for sale, they are often the height of luxury, as advertised; however, outside the gates the area can be almost deserted! This is an often- reported complaint and occurs in several countries, particularly with sight unseen sales.

Another thing to check out is the medical and hospital background. Clinics are often as good as hospitals some under-developed places, but how far do you have to go to find one?

There is also the problem of workmen and repairs; learning a little of the language would be helpful, but the quality of work may be more difficult to achieve, due to lack of premium tools etc.

None of these above problems need to present difficulties, especially if the potential buyer is aware of the possibility of them before signing on the dotted line. If North Americans choose wisely, they can be basking in the sun, checking their rising bank balance on the wireless Internet and sipping on their.....mineral water....?

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