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The top 4 international property investment markets

The top 4 international property investment markets

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The top 4 international property investment markets

If you’re looking to invest in offshore real estate – that is, markets outside of North America – there are four key markets you should look at first.

Lief Simon, international real estate investor and co-founder of Live and Invest Overseas, says he’s all in on overseas markets. And he has shortlisted four countries to help build your investment portfolio and personal freedom plan.

Why? International property stands out more than ever among investment options because it is both a hard asset and one of the best opportunities for generating cash flow while building real, long-term, even legacy wealth.

What makes these countries star performers? He says they are the world’s best options for diversifying across markets, currencies and asset types for both value appreciation and cash flow of up to 17 per cent per year that can continue for decades. In some cases, you can invest with as little as US$35,000.

1. Panama

Rental apartments and agricultural opportunities are the two key target areas here. Panama City, where resale transactions have slowed, is and will continue to be a buyers’ market in the short term. This year is a chance to buy on a dip, because, long term, Simon remains very bullish on the Panama City rentals market.

Yields continue to be strong, though not as strong as they were a couple of years ago, primarily because rents have softened.

Argentine, Colombian, and Venezuelan buyers have helped to keep the Panama City market stable and growing over the last dozen years, while other markets in this region have struggled or even collapsed.

Today, North Americans and Europeans continue to invest, but it’s Panama’s new relationship with China Simon predicts will fuel this economy through its next stage of growth. Chinese are arriving in Panama in volume and bringing lots of investment capital with them, just like they did in Vancouver in the 1990s. He foresees spikes in property values to new levels.

The second big opportunity for making money from real estate in Panama in 2019 is productive land. This country’s interior is a fertile breadbasket. Individual investors can even participate in organic plantations for turnkey agro-profits.

2. Brazil

Brazil is a large country with many different property markets, some more interesting than others.

“I recommend focusing on the Fortaleza area,” Simon says. “This coastal region is a top destination among Brazilian tourists. Rentals targeting the local holiday market can earn better than eight per cent net yield reliably.”

The Brazilian real remains stable against the U.S. dollar (at around 4.09 reais to US$1) and has been historically weak relative to the rate of 1.6 reais to the dollar of a decade ago.

Good yields and a weak currency make this country a very strong buy.

3. Thailand

Thailand appeals primarily for its agriculture, but it also deserves attention for its strong economy and expanding tourism industry.

The challenge in Thailand is that restrictions are placed on how foreigners can own property. Foreigners are able to own land only on leasehold.

A foreigner can hold freehold title to the construction on the land, but, unless the house is portable, you might not take comfort from that. Foreigners are also permitted to own condos freehold as long as they don’t own more than 49 per cent of the total area of the condo building. For this reason, the condo market is where most foreign investors focus their attention. A condo is also cheaper and easier to manage as a rental than an individual property.

Bangkok was the number-one visited city in the world in 2017 and last year received more visitors than London or Paris. Again, that’s worth the attention of would-be property investors, says Simon.

4. Portugal

Property markets in Portugal have been on the move since 2015. Some neighborhoods in Lisbon, for example, are now priced beyond what Simon believes is reasonable for an investment property. Other areas of this city, however, continue to offer good value and opportunity, especially if you’re up for a renovation project.

In this, the fourth quarter of 2019, Simon recommends focusing on the lesser-visited areas along the country’s Algarve coast and the Porto region north of Lisbon. And in Portugal, it’s possible for a non-resident to obtain a mortgage for the purchase of a property.


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Panama, luxurious vacation destination

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Panama, luxurious vacation destination

Famous for its canal and skyscraper-filled capital city, Panama is becoming increasingly popular for those travellers who are looking for reliable tropical weather, white sandy beaches and mountainous rainforests. The good news is that prices are quite reasonable, and there’s a plethora of luxurious resorts for the ultimate vacation.

DOWN TIME

The Buenaventura Golf & Beach Resort is located in the Cocle Province, which is just over an hour north of Panama City. It’s a great choice if you’re looking to get away from the hustle and bustle. Start your day here with a golf game on the par- 72, Nicklaus-designed championship golf course. Only hotel guests and private members are allowed, so you won’t feel rushed as you make your way along the emerald-green fairways. If your game’s not up to par, guests also have access to the Cobra Performance Centre, where experts will examine your swing and design a plan to improve your game.

With seven pools and more than three kilometres of white sand beach, your biggest decision will be which palapa umbrella you should settle under. While relaxing, ask the resort’s award-winning mixologist to suggest a fitting libation. They specialize in cocktails using local ingredients like guayacan, which grows in the nearby rainforest. A must-try is their signature tropical mojito, which is served in a banana leaf-wrapped glass, and looks as good as it tastes.

While you may be content to stay put, this region is one of the most beautiful in Panama, filled with agricultural farmland, cloudforest mountains, national parks, jungle waterfalls and colonial towns. Buenaventura’s concierge can help you to arrange tours, which include birdwatching (Panama has close to 1,000 bird species), hiking in the rainforest canopy at nearby El Valle de Anton, or visiting an archeological site that dates back to AD 450.

URBAN ALTERNATIVES

If you’re looking for a bit more action, then The Bristol in Panama City is a good bet. Here, in the heart of the financial district, you can lounge by the pool after you browse the $3 million-dollar private art collection throughout the hotel, featuring works by famous Panamanian and Latin American artists.

For the best of both worlds, check out the recently opened Santa Maria Hotel & Golf Resort (10 minutes from the airport and 15 minutes to downtown). Located within an exclusive neighbourhood in Panama City, you can enjoy sipping pina coladas and eating ceviche by the pool, while watching the golfers pass by on another Nicklaus-designed golf course. For a nourishing Panamanianstyle massage, visit the spa for a cacao and coffee treatment, which involves a full-body coffee exfoliation and organic cocao wrap.

A walking tour of Panama City’s old town (Casco Viejo) introduces you to historical landmarks, building and plazas, while traversing 16-century cobble-stoned streets. The Panamanian government is investing in the renovation of this district. Still, it’s already home to some of the city’s most charming hotels, cafes and boutiques.

POSITIVELY PANAMANIAN

Designed by Frank Gehry, the BioMuseo reviews the historical creation of the isthmus that formed Panama, and how that affected the course of the earth’s biodiversity. Panama has the most diversified wildlife in Central America with species native to both South America and North America.

No visit to Panama is complete without a trip to the Miraflores Lock Centre, so book a tour to view massive ships squeezing through this 100-year old canal lock. Make sure that you check on the timing of the next ship, so that you can watch the lock in action.

For an up close and personal experience of the canal, a boat tour is the only way. In Gamboa, where the Chagres River meets the canal, hop onboard a small lancha, which will whisk you across the Gatun Lake. You’ll pass large cargo ships in transit across the canal, and then travel down small river tributaries, where your eagle-eyed guide will point out local wildlife, including iguanas, sloths, toucans and monkeys. Hang on to your belongings, as these cheeky characters have been known to jump on board.

DISTILLING FLAVOURS

Rum is to Panama, as whisky is to Canada. Visit Hacienda San Isidro to learn how this small sugar cane mill became a leading rum manufacturer of their world-famous Ron Abuelo.

Before you leave, experience a coffee tasting. An expert will advise you of tasting notes and flavours for locally grown blends that include catuai and geisha. And, of course, prolong the memories of your trip to Panama, by brewing up a cup of your favourite blend when you get home.

Kate Robertson can be contacted at kateflyingsolo@gmail.com

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