Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Expat Real Estate Suckers

Don’t you just love getting into all these expat websites and clicking on all these colorful ads of real estate “bargains” in the Third World? Yeah the prices are not bad- $150,000 for a house, that’s cheap compared to California. Or Tokyo. But, outside of expensive states/ cities like that, I can buy a house in the First World for not much more than K150. So why would I want to invest $150,000 in some unstable country where a jealous dictator may nationalize my property any time a new anti- West/American government is installed? Or someone who does not like my skin color or name or the fact that I now have a pretty girlfriend that should be his?

And you know what else? When you get to those countries, you will see that you can buy a house for one tenths or one fifteenth or one twentieth of that. You just have to know where to look. The natives know. You don’t. That is why you get ripped off. Why do you think they are advertising to foreigners with all these multi-colored blinking web ads of a tropical paradise? Because they know that foreigners are dumb enough to spend $150,000 on a substandard house that a local would buy for much, much less.

You had better invest that money in a house back home and, on the proceeds, you could rent a house in the Third World and get a maid to boot. And have enough to live on, still.
But an expat sucker is born every minute. A sucker who does not know what the real estate situation in the country is like. And the dupe is shelling out money like there is no tomorrow.

A Japanese saw an advertisement for a condo in Pattaya, Thailand once. He requested the brochure and was marveled by how big and spacious the property was. It cost some $100,000. Cheap compared to Japan. So he went ahead and wired the real estate agency the money and, shortly, received a deed to his new home. When time came to go on vacation he flew to the Land of Smiles anxious to see what it looked like in reality. When he arrived and showed the taxi driver the map of the place, he soon found out that there was no such street, no such home, no such property. In tears, he ran to the police station to file a report. The police told him: “You want us to find the one who ripped you off? You will have to pay us another $100,000. Then we will look for them.”

So be careful when you look for “great buys” on the Internet that advertise colorful houses in various independent, forever-developing, tropical “heavens”. If you really want to go there, make sure you let a local that you trust ( such as your wife) to look for a hose for you. Otherwise, unless you have money to burn, do not be tempted. You’ d better invest the same money at home.

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