We’re able to rely on the time-honored protections afforded U.S. real estate buyers and sellers because their observance is invaluable to all. That rock-solid reliability adds incontestable value to the transactions. It’s been so for centuries.
Unfortunately for members of the public, it’s awfully tempting to bring similar assumptions to real estate dealings in other countries. Recently it’s been notable how mistaken that assumption can be. Even though it might seem to be commonsensical for
other nations to want to protect the integrity of their own real estate markets, unscrupulous individuals can seek to make quick profits by scamming foreigners. And they might even get away with it when they partner with equally unscrupulous politicians.
According to AARP, one recent foreign scheme has cost U.S. victims more than $100 million. They report that “even sophisticated consumers” were persuaded to buy into land and retirement homes in Belize—90% of which were never built. They were tricked
by “sophisticated promotional materials in print, online, and on television.” The resulting scheme is the largest rip-off of its kind ever targeted by the Federal Trade Commission. The FTC’s involvement comes too late for U.S. buyers “who regularly
lost their entire investment” or were forced to sell back to the scammers at a loss. Equally dismaying is what the Wall Street Journal describes as questionable Belizean court rulings that stymied investors—a development that’s less surprising when
you learn that the developers’ law firm is part-owned by the nation’s Prime Minister.
Of course not all foreign real estate dealings turn out so badly—but U.S. buyers who assume they have our level of protection—or even the chance to have a fair day in court—need to look before they leap.
Closer to home, right now you can call me to look over February’s assortment of terrific Boise homes for sale—offered with U.S.-level buyer protections!