You’re travelling in a foreign country and you get arrested for something that you didn’t even know was against the law. The potential fine is huge, more than you earn in 10 years. Would you represent yourself in front of judges who might not even speak your language? Not if you had any sense you wouldn’t. You’d probably hire a lawyer.
Let’s think about that. Most people are not willing to risk 10 years salary when they’re in front of the judge, yet those same people are willing to risk that same amount of money, or more, whenever they buy real estate in a foreign country.
What’s the risk? There are plenty.
Not being fully aware of the laws that affect the ownership of real estate for starters. In some cases, you’re not only subject to the laws of real estate ownership which affect any property owner in that country, but there may be special laws which affect only foreign owners as well as local laws which differ from jurisdiction to jurisdiction.
Perhaps you’re not an expert at reading the language that the purchase and sale agreement is written in. Maybe you’ll overlook terms or conditions that would be a deal-breaker if you were aware of their presence.
And then there are all of the considerations which affect any buyer whether they are a foreign national or not. Things like zoning or permitted use laws, neighborhood or condo association by-laws, environmental restrictions, tax issues, and all of the other little gremlins that can pop up and turn a great deal into a great deal of misery.
Those are the kinds of things that a Real Estate lawyer is trained to handle. It’s not good enough to have your family lawyer or corporate lawyer review the deal. If you want an iron-clad real estate purchase and sales agreement which addresses all of the unique and common issues that you face as a real estate buyer in a foreign country, then you need to hire a real estate lawyer who is licensed to practice in that country. Nothing else is “good enough”.
So, if the advantages of hiring a Real Estate lawyer are so obvious, what, if any are the disadvantages of using one for your foreign real estate transactions?
First, a Real Estate lawyer will add cost to the transaction because of his or her fees. While these costs are usually not excessive, they are a consideration.
If you are a seasoned buyer of real estate in a particular country then you may not need a Real Estate lawyer to guide you through the intricacies of property ownership.
Using a Real Estate lawyer may cause the deal to close at a later date due to his or her need to review and revise the purchase and sale agreement.
I’m not really sure, however, if these can be labeled as disadvantages considering the amount of money that you are about to invest in a deal where legal ramifications that pop up later could haunt you for life and drain all of the equity and more out of your foreign property.