Good international real estate investing books and resources

8 Replies

Hello, Invested in US for the past 11 years and now looking to learn a bit more about the opportunities in the international real estate. 

What are some of your favorite international investing books or resources or people you follow?

Bonus:  What are some of your favorite countries you are eyeing for RE investing?

There isn't a whole lot of international real estate investing books but this is an interest of mine that I have been trying to pursue so I ended up reading Nomad Capitalist and recently got The Cross Border Family Wealth Guide. @Minka Sha

@Minka Sha

Because I invest with investors and want to make sure that they get a good return, my favorite countries are those where I can get the highest rental yields, meaning the cheapest properties bringing the highest rental income. That means pretty much buying short-term rentals where they're unregulated and there is a lot of tourism all year round.

The best way to buy great properties cheaper is to either buy them pre-construction or develop my own project. However, I'll want to hand over my money to developers that I know personally or who are personally known by somebody within my close network.

Some of my additional criteria are:
- The risks have to be acceptable;
- Foreigners have to have the same rights and be treated similarly than locals;
- I have the right resources on the ground in terms of people who I can work with and who can give me good advice.

That leads me to Mexico, Central and South America, the Caribbean and Southern Europe.

These are my criteria that fit with my objectives. You should invest in areas that fit with your objectives. It's not a one size fits all. And, most importantly, it's best to get the right education to know what you're doing, which is exactly what you're attempting to do so you're on the right track.

Originally posted by @Mike Lambert :

@Minka Sha

Because I invest with investors and want to make sure that they get a good return, my favorite countries are those where I can get the highest rental yields, meaning the cheapest properties bringing the highest rental income. That means pretty much buying short-term rentals where they're unregulated and there is a lot of tourism all year round.

The best way to buy great properties cheaper is to either buy them pre-construction or develop my own project. However, I'll want to hand over my money to developers that I know personally or who are personally known by somebody within my close network.

Some of my additional criteria are:
- The risks have to be acceptable;
- Foreigners have to have the same rights and be treated similarly than locals;
- I have the right resources on the ground in terms of people who I can work with and who can give me good advice.

That leads me to Mexico, Central and South America, the Caribbean and Southern Europe.

These are my criteria that fit with my objectives. You should invest in areas that fit with your objectives. It's not a one size fits all. And, most importantly, it's best to get the right education to know what you're doing, which is exactly what you're attempting to do so you're on the right track.

 This is awesome. Thanks for the detailed and thoughtful reply. I’m always amazed at the plethora of experience and information that people have on this community. 

With those criteria and particular countries, when you are purchasing, what type of financing were you able to obtain? have you been doing cash deals mostly or financing has been an option as well? For example, I’m in UAE now and the only option I had is to purchase for cash. It sounds like it will be similar to India.

@Minka Sha

You're welcome. I forgot to mention three important points I'm looking for in locations/countries in my previous answer:

I like that there is a path of progress. For example, new roads, bridges or flight routes will bring more development and tourists in the area. For example, one of my favorite places right now is Las Terrenas in the Dominican Republic. Why? Because, aside of being in the country's most beautiful area, there is a new airport with direct flights from my hometown of Montreal but also from as far as Russia and there is a new motorway from the capital Santo Domingo (and its airport) that cut the driving time by 50%. This all means rising real estate values and a constant stream of tourists/renters.

In developing countries, I like to see a rising middle class, which will underpin real estate values as well. For example, think Colombia with its growing middle class vs Ecuador.

I mentioned that I like places with mass tourism. However, I like a diversified mix of visitors for obvious reasons. For example, in Mexico, while Puerto Vallarta in Mexico is a very popular destination for international tourists, most of the tourists and real estate buyers are actually Mexicans so the impact of whatever happens in other countries is limited. In the Riviera Maya (Cancun, Playa del Carmen, Tulum, ...), the international tourists are coming from pretty much everywhere thanks to the direct flights into Cancun coming from all over the world. So, if for any reason, visitors from a given country stop to go there, the impact will be limited.

Now to your question about the financing. Financing for foreigners is available in certain countries and is not available in others. When it is available, you still; have to qualify and, also, the conditions won't be as good as they are in North America, with the exception of certain European countries. When bank financing isn't available, seller financing might be although it isn't that common. I've been using financing but I've had access to financing through my connections in places where retail buyers generally can't get it.

Mind you, we're so addicted to debt in North America that we forget that a 100% cash deal can be as good if not better. Let's assume that you buy a property in the US which just cash flows with a 30-year loan (which isn't bad considering the many places with negative cash flow nowadays). Apart from the equity buildup, you won't make any money for 30 years, after which you'll get the full cash flow on the property. Compare this with a property you buy overseas for 100% in cash and that gives you a 10% net rental yield. The first 10 years, you won't make any money aside from the equity buildup because you're paying yourself back. But after that, you'll get the full cash flow from the property 20 years before compared to the leveraged US example.

Now you might tell me that's all good and well but you could find properties in the US that have a 10% net cash flow yield. While it's increasingly difficult to find, it's not impossible but it will most likely be in an area where you won't get capital gains alongside the cash flow. By contrast you can get a 10% net rental yield overseas and capital gains in the same areas. Why? Precisely because of the paths of progress, the emerging middle class, the fast growing tourism and the unregulated nature of short-term rentals that are absent in the more mature markets.

Originally posted by @Mike Lambert :

@Minka Sha

You're welcome. I forgot to mention three important points I'm looking for in locations/countries in my previous answer:

I like that there is a path of progress. For example, new roads, bridges or flight routes will bring more development and tourists in the area. For example, one of my favorite places right now is Las Terrenas in the Dominican Republic. Why? Because, aside of being in the country's most beautiful area, there is a new airport with direct flights from my hometown of Montreal but also from as far as Russia and there is a new motorway from the capital Santo Domingo (and its airport) that cut the driving time by 50%. This all means rising real estate values and a constant stream of tourists/renters.

In developing countries, I like to see a rising middle class, which will underpin real estate values as well. For example, think Colombia with its growing middle class vs Ecuador.

I mentioned that I like places with mass tourism. However, I like a diversified mix of visitors for obvious reasons. For example, in Mexico, while Puerto Vallarta in Mexico is a very popular destination for international tourists, most of the tourists and real estate buyers are actually Mexicans so the impact of whatever happens in other countries is limited. In the Riviera Maya (Cancun, Playa del Carmen, Tulum, ...), the international tourists are coming from pretty much everywhere thanks to the direct flights into Cancun coming from all over the world. So, if for any reason, visitors from a given country stop to go there, the impact will be limited.

Now to your question about the financing. Financing for foreigners is available in certain countries and is not available in others. When it is available, you still; have to qualify and, also, the conditions won't be as good as they are in North America, with the exception of certain European countries. When bank financing isn't available, seller financing might be although it isn't that common. I've been using financing but I've had access to financing through my connections in places where retail buyers generally can't get it.

Mind you, we're so addicted to debt in North America that we forget that a 100% cash deal can be as good if not better. Let's assume that you buy a property in the US which just cash flows with a 30-year loan (which isn't bad considering the many places with negative cash flow nowadays). Apart from the equity buildup, you won't make any money for 30 years, after which you'll get the full cash flow on the property. Compare this with a property you buy overseas for 100% in cash and that gives you a 10% net rental yield. The first 10 years, you won't make any money aside from the equity buildup because you're paying yourself back. But after that, you'll get the full cash flow from the property 20 years before compared to the leveraged US example.

Now you might tell me that's all good and well but you could find properties in the US that have a 10% net cash flow yield. While it's increasingly difficult to find, it's not impossible but it will most likely be in an area where you won't get capital gains alongside the cash flow. By contrast you can get a 10% net rental yield overseas and capital gains in the same areas. Why? Precisely because of the paths of progress, the emerging middle class, the fast growing tourism and the unregulated nature of short-term rentals that are absent in the more mature markets.

 I agree with all your points Mike. Interesting to know about financing and also your perspective on Debt in US VS INTERNATIONAL , I’m totally onboard with that. Couple more follow ups. 

  1. I usually built pro formas (in excel old school... haha) for US properties whether it was just me investing or investing after capital raise. Do you feel the technical analysis is similar or you find some additional tools useful? For example, some assumptions generally:

Property management: 10%
capex ...

Taxes ...

Etc etc ...

  • Your subjective criteria is really spot on and can’t be overlooked obviously. 

    How do you find the international deals? Local brokers? Websites? Are there consolidated brokers?

And the financing looks like cash will most likely be the option for me at least as I’m self employed.


I’m sort of excited to learn about the international side of things. Keep the insights coming!


@Minka Sha

I have found Live and Invest Overseas (liveandinvestoverseas.com) to be a great resource. I was inspired to look into international REI after reading their new book Buying Real Estate Overseas for Cashflow. Currently purchasing a 2 BR in Tavira, Portugal. Also, looking at Panama and Belize.

@Joshua Flowers

It's a great thing that you found about international real estate and that you seem to be sharing my enthusiasm for it. However, for the reasons I mentioned in my reply to you in https://www.biggerpockets.com/..., you might be thinking twice before being "brainwashed" by Live and Invest Overseas and their relentless marketing tactics.

@Minka Sha

Don't get me wrong. Leverage is awesome and I'll take it any day when I can get it and that's what I have been doing as I mentioned in my previous reply. And I've not only be the recipient of it, I've been offering it as well. A few months ago, I got an unsolicited offer on one of my condos in Mexico in which the potential buyer was asking me for seller financing, which you usually can't get there. We found a way to make it a win-win. That gave me the idea for one of my current project, which is to create a development with seller financing as part of the offer, as I believe there would be a great demand for that.

You can use the same Excel spreadsheets, which are great! The mathematics of real estate remain the same, whichever the country.

I get my deals through my personal relationships with local developers and my next step, as I just mentioned, is to create my own developments but with local experienced partners of course. Granted, most people don't have most people don't have the knowledge and contacts to do that but you're fine if you find yourself a good broker. He'd have to be local though.