Real Estate While Living Abroad

4 Replies

Good morning all! I am currently living in Dubai, but my wife and I are very interested in getting started by purchasing one house somewhere in our home state of Iowa and renting it out. We will have to hire out the management of the property because we will not be living anywhere nearby. Has anyone had experience with a situation like this? We are looking to build up a few properties slowly over several years, but we will likely be living overseas during that time. Will we be losing too much of our income to property management? Can property managers deal with tenant issues that we might experience?

Jason, 

Yes it can be done. I'm currently in Korea and have one SFR property in my home state. We don't have a property manager, however I do have a real estate agent who does all my tenant application stuff. I make the final decision based on credit scores, the agents interview and the rest of my written criteria.

Not having a property manager is both good and bad. I rely on the real estate agent for referrals of good professionals,  as well as Internet searches. It takes some extra time to fix stuff.  

The tenants know we are overseas and managing from here, so they stay in touch via email and are good about letting us know about issues. They take care of small stuff (under 150 USD). They are trustworthy enough that in a real emergency,  I wouldn't hesitate to tell them to fix it and send me the bill. I wouldn't try that with many tenants,  but these folks are good.

For the rent, I have them direct deposit into a credit union account specifically set up for the property.  The money is then transferred to another account so there is little to no balance in the account that the tenant pays into. 

The bad is that there is a 14 hour time difference,  so I'm up late or very early to talk to repair folks. The other bad part is not having a full rolodex of professionals to help out. This is mitigated by my real estate agent, family in the area,  and a couple of folks that we know that are overseas with property near us. I also was a real estate agent for 7 years,  so I do have that experience to help. 

My advice is to price in property management in your analysis, no matter what you decide.  If you decide to self manage,  then find an agent that will do all the leasing legwork for you to your specifications and has a good network of property repair professionals. Back that up with creating your own network of repair folks, and if you can friends or trusted family in the area. 

If you decide to hire a property manager. Then vet the living daylights out of them. 

Hope that helps.

Good luck, 

Jim 

Hello Jason. I’m a Norwegian investor that live in Dubai and invest in USA. I’ve done so for two years. I have 6 houses in Indianapolis and im happy to share my experiences and systems I have in place to enable me to be a long distance owner. I also have properties in Norway that I self manage and find it much easier to invest in Indy with property management in place. I will message you privately to share more

Jim and Morgan, both really helpful and exciting to hear about people in the same situation. Excellent advice-thank you! I might be reaching out occasionally if you don’t mind. Where in Korea? We’ve been to Seoul and Jeju Island and enjoy the country a lot!

Jason,

We're on Jeju Island, and enjoying it tremendously. 

Jim

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