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FAQs for Living and Working Overseas:


Written by a former Peace Corps Volunteer living overseas since 1989

The Expat Guy: FAQs for Working and Living Overseas

How can I manage my real estate investments from overseas?

Should I let my family or a friend manage my real estate investments?

Two answers, three words:  You can't.  Don't.

Unless you want a tenant calling you at 2AM to tell you the toilet is clogged, don't try to manage your property from overseas.

Unless you really want to stress your relationships and perhaps permanently damage them, don't have family or friends manage your property for you.

Hire a Professional Property Manager

Hire a professional manager.  It's what they do.  They know all the legal ins and outs, have reliable repair staff, and can even evict someone if it needs to be done.  Of course, you can save 10-11% of the gross rents by having family or friends manage it, but why would they want YOUR headaches?  And will they be quite as diligent as a rental agent who wants to get the property rented quickly so they can collect their commission?

By the way, management contracts have clauses built into them so that the agent must ask your permission before spending certain amounts of money.  You set the limit.

Property Management can be Dangerous 

How will you feel if your father is beaten up when he goes to collect the rent?  It happens. 

How about the lawsuit he causes when he doesn't follow the legal process for evicting someone who hasn't paid your rent for the last three months?  That happens too.

How about when he forgets to renew the fire insurance a month before the house burns to the ground?  Yep, that happens too.

Let the pros handle it!  They have errors and omissions insurance to handle all these problems.  They know how to do it right.  It's what they do.

Is it all good?

No. Have I ever had to fire a property manager?  Yes.  Twice in about 16 years - but that is three managers for three different properties across most of that time.  And, it is not so difficult to fire them - most contracts have a thirty day notice built into them.  I did it from overseas both times via fax and/or email.  Not a problem.

How will you feel if you need to "fire" your father, or best friend?

Special note: I had a major fire in one of my rental properties a few years ago.  Damage well in excess of US$20,000.  My property manager handled it all.  It would have been a major task for a family member or friend to obtain bids, hire contractors, supervise their work - and coordinate all the payments with the insurance company.  You would need to quit your job and go home to take care of your investment. 

BTW, if you buy good landlord insurance (and do!), it covers the lost rent during the time the building is not habitable - you need not lose any income in such a circumstance.

If you invest, do it right.  Having family or friends manage your investments is not an adult way of managing your responsibilities.

 Caveat: These are only my opinions, I am not a financial consultant.

 

 

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