Investing while living abroad

17 Replies

Hey Y'all, this is my first time on the forms but I have been listening to the podcast for around 4 or 5 years now. Great Stuff! I have 2 rental properties I got in 2011 but I have not bought anything since, mainly because I live in Cambodia now. Currently putting most my money in Peerstreet, Yieldstreet and do some lending to people who buy fine wines in London. I really want to get back to my original plan to invest in Real Estate. Wondering what the best way to do that from over here is? My thinking was Note or Turn-key properties would be the best way to go. Anyone with experience investing in notes, do you think it would be possible to run that business from another country? I want something scalable and with better returns than the 10-12%, I get now. I know I could buy a Note or two from a broker without a problem but wondering if it is realistic to run it like a real business from all the way in Cambodia? Or when you get to a certain size is there just too many problems that arise. My hopes are that I could master this business and one day, raise outside money. 

Thanks, in advance for any tips or suggestions and thanks to all the amazing podcast guest over the years I have learned something from every episode, cheers.

Originally posted by @John Lingel :

I really want to get back to my original plan to invest in Real Estate. Wondering what the best way to do that from over here is?

John, we're almost neighbors! I'm an American expat living in the Philippines from where I've bought 5 SFHs during the past few years and built 1 spec home. The last SFH I bought 6 months ago was sight unseen and I never stepped foot in the US. Only thing I needed to do was sign documents in front of the Embassy consular notary. I don't know anything about Peerstreet and Yieldstreet (sounds interesting though) but I did buy some land and develop a commercial export banana plantation several years ago; 50,000 trees, 50 field workers, aerial spraying and contracted buyer.

I attribute my ability to invest “remotely” in SFHs to a team of people I’ve gathered over the years that look out for my best interests; primarily an excellent real estate agent and an outstanding property manager.  My market area is Boise Idaho.  If you're interested in a buy and hold approach I'd recommend that area because its poised for significant growth.  Forbes lists it as the fastest growing area in the country;

BTW – I’ve been to Siem Reap three times to visit Angkor Wat.One of our favorite places to visit.

I’m an expat in Asia as well, and I have to say that the key to being able to continue to invest from abroad lies entirely with your team. I do turnkey because it’s easy and I’m lazy. Being abroad is a little more work but at the end of the day, as long as you have a good realtor and property manager they can do most of the heavy lifting for you. Then Docusign your way to more wealth!

@Matthew McNeil Wow, that's awesome that banana plantation sounds like quite the project. I do have some good real estate agents, property managers, and contractors. My issue is they are in California where I bought my first 2 places, because of the high taxes and other issues I see don't really want to invest there anymore. Sounds like you have a good set-up I would like to find a solid turn-key company with a team in place and do something similar. But the more I look at note investing the better it sounds. For someone like me who has a good income but a hard time getting loans it makes a lot of sense.

I'm new into RE investing, I live in China and bought my first duplex in Dec 2017 in Atlanta.  Overall, I found the process much easier than expected to do it remotely.  Just about everything can be done online and by easy phone calls at night (morning EST).  But, you don't see the place for yourself.  I made a walkthrough one time around Thanksgiving before we made the sale, which made me feel better and really understand what needed to be done to fix up the place.  No real major ticket items.  We had an appraisal to effectively negotiate the sale price, then the bank required an appraisal to make the loan, then I had a detailed inspection with 50 page report, then the insurance company also did a broad inspection with a report to grant coverage.  Lots of inspections...  I'd take more risk in the future knowing how the process works while communicating remotely now.  I also found a great property manager that handles everything and communicates well by email.

Buying existing notes is not something I have experience with, just creating notes as in private lending.  It seems to me if you are doing 10-12% while living abroad you should be quite pleased, assuming they are passive and low risk investments.  Getting turnkey buy and holds these days 10-12% cash on cash would be considered very good if you are looking at B class investments. 

@John Lingel - Welcome!  My experience with out of country clients is that it can be pretty straight forward as long as everyone at Title knows ahead of time.  Our market is Boise as well.  All the best in your endeavors!  

@John Lingel I was really lucky. I had a friend was heavily investing in property who introduced me to her realtor. The realtor is a husband and wife team that also manages, with an extensive team of people who handle the repairs as well as contacts to just about every industry you will need. Insurance, financing, etc. while I continue to generally use my own financing (I have a company I prefer called Guild Mortgage because they don’t usually sell their loans) it’s still been useful to tap into their contacts to shop.

We’ve become slightly more than business associates over our extended relationships and they help with and handle quite a bit of my affairs in the US. However, they only handle a very specific part of Las Vegas (Southwest). I admit that I don’t remember what the name of their company is because they were always more personal from the start, but they do have one. If you want to invest in Southwest Vegas specifically, just PM me and I can pass their information to you. Bearing in mind that they won’t be the ‘cheapest’ options you can find but I’ve found them reliable and the peace of mind has been worth the marginally increased outlay for me (since I’m not there to manage them directly).

@John Lingel

now that is an interesting thread to join...

Investing while living abroad - 

if you want my 2c in short - as hard as it sounds my best advice is DIY!!!


I have been living in San Diego and invested both locally and all over California back in 2008 and till today. at the past several years I own and manage rentals across the USA - Cleveland Rochester Orlando south bend to name a few markets, Investing and managing the rentals - all the way from my office in Israel.

as I have learned - no one will be better selecting tenants then YOU, if you have some time (despite time difference, here in Israel it is 10 hours difference so I am  quite familiar with the hassle) - then in order to have good returns on your rentals - just DIY. yes- use an agent to "place" a new tenant, but you choose the criteria, you talk to the prospective tenants - previous land lord and current employer. then after you have a new tenant (dont forget to pay the local real estate agent a nice commission for pacing the tenant) - try to manage the unit your self , build relationship with the tenant.

I have found that by using some technology at your side - you can keep good readerships with your tenants for the long run, if they have something that needs to be fixed - just get some local handy man to take care of it, regardless you live in Cambodia - several phone calls - and you will solve your problem. I have nothing against property managers but I believe that for your Learning Curve (education you have mentioned you want to master) and for the benefit of your rental RETURNS - just try to DIY

As for notes Investing - no real experience here.. so no tips:-)

Seems like you should be able to do note investing from abroad. Calling realtors, attorneys and other folks might be a pain with the time difference but would be manageable. The tricky part might be dealing with the hard copies of the collateral. Maybe have someone in the US to help you with that part.

Wow you have taken investing outside your home town to a whole new level. I know and manage some properties for my clients out of Singapore Tel Aviv and canada. It become difficult sometimes to explain the current market conditions and also how difficult it can be sometimes to collect delinquent rents BUT with some patience all is great. They love investing and continue to grow their portfolio. It’s all about the team on the ground. I am a one stop shop for international investors.

Great thread here..

@John Lingel your properties are SFH or multi-? I met someone from BP here also looking into buying mortgages? Do share more on the notes if you can.

@Ross Gortney which city you in?  Sounds like you went through a similar process as me in buying in the states.  Like most things, it's never quite as hard when you start digging into the details and take action.

I'm a US citizen also living away from home (Shanghai,China). In Shanghai, I have investments in small commercial properties and do AirBnB in 2 leased apartments. In the US, I have recently bought two triplexes with my sister in Colorado, both with a purchase Cap Rate over 10% and bringing in between 12% to 16% Cash on Cash ROI (afterCapEx). Wondering how other fare in their returns, in the states or abroad.

I have an accredited dual architecture and building science degree and practiced in architecural and interior design firms for almost 20 years in the states and here in China before diving into the real estate and property development side. I have a strong construction management background as well... looking for the next investment in multi-unit, even ground up work if finding the right project and partnership.  

Hi @John Lingel looks like you're in good company. Like a few other people have said in this post, I'm in Shanghai as well and invest in the USA. I have property in Cleveland that I initially tried to run from here, but recently have turned over to a PM company. It's been working out good so far.

I was also interested in buying notes but after doing research, its a little more complicated than I thought it was. Instead, I've partnered with a guy I know in the US who has his own hedge fund company that invests in real estate. He was a banker for over 20 years and knows the note business inside and out. I like the idea of investing in real estate without having to deal with tenants, fix things, deal with city hall, etc. My partner has the real estate machine already in place and has been quite successful. If you'd like more info on that, feel free to PM me.

I do plan to strategically buy more property outside of the hedge fund. I'm born and raised in Cleveland, and its definitely a great market, I am looking to buy property in FL since I plan to move there once my time in China is done. For now, I'm learning as much as I can about the areas I want to buy property plus building relationships. 

My only other advice is to make the most out of this website as possible. I've met people like @Troy Williams in Shanghai and others through BP and the knowledge and resources these people have are invaluable. And best doesn't cost any money!

Good luck in Cambodia! I may be there in a few weeks for vacation.

Originally posted by @Troy Williams :

@Matthew McNeil curious how and why you managed to get involved with a banana plantation!?

Troy, I pursued the banana industry after learning the Philippines (where I live) is one of the largest banana producers in the world.  All the big players are here in my backyard including Del Monte and Dole.  

I was so intrigued after studying the banana business for two years that I decided to take a leap.  I bought raw land (abandoned rice fields) and planted 50,000 tissue culture seedlings and hired a field manager.  Because demand exceeds supply, companies will contractually commit to buy everything you can grow even before you plant.  They will also provide ag tech support, aerial spraying, fertilizer deliveries, QC inspectors, and haul your packed product to the port.  I was under contract with a local-based Dutch buyer and my bananas were shipped to Japan, China, Korea and several countries in the Middle East.  

After several years overseeing the operations personally, I made on offer to my buyer to take over the farm management and just send me a check every month.  I also raised funds from private investors in Boise to fund the down payment for a new 100-hectare plantation using a loan from the Philippine Land Bank. Most of those businessmen owned rental properties and wanted to get involved in something different to add to their portfolios.  Bananas were intriguing to them.  It was by far the easiest money I've ever raised for a business venture.