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Nonetheless many markets are attractive to international investors (Thailand) that are difficult to navigate. “Switzerland is probably the toughest desirable country. It’s also what Nassim Nicholas Taleb would call ‘anti-fragile’ — a market that benefits when times are good and when people are looking for a safe haven,” states Dillon. EU nationals resident in Switzerland are afforded the rights of Swiss citizens. Non-residents need permission, holiday homes cannot be rented out annually, there are size limits and cantons have yearly quotas. Another attractive market is China, but Dillon warns that, “If China’s real estate market corrects, prime locations in Tier 1 cities will be interesting. Foreigners must live legally in China for one year before they can buy anything and no one — except the state and collectives — can own land in China.” Emerging markets are popular with investors because of how lucrative they can be. Just ask anyone who purchased in one of Hong Kong’s pre-gentrification sub-markets. But buying a flat in Sheung Wan during SARS is a far cry from dabbling in Cambodia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Namibia or even Brazil where rules and regulations can vary from area restrictions (specific zones in Abu Dhabi, close proximity to borders, coasts and military land in Brazil is out) and poorly defined titling. Understanding Indonesia’s hak pakai is complex and critical, and again in Brazil, un-deeded “posse” land can vanish at a government whim. Dillon has a holy trinity of warning signs that could make purchasing overseas property a nightmare. The first is simply lack of clear government strategy. “Sri Lanka let foreigners buy freehold subject to a 100 percent transfer tax, which was repealed in 2002 and then reinstated in 2004,” he begins. That was followed by an outright ban on foreign freehold purchasing in 2013. But now, “They can now acquire a 99-year lease, subject to a 100 percent tax on the property’s value.” Unpredictable policy can spell trouble. 分類廣告 Another issue is a state’s financial turmoil. When a country is looking to fatten its coffers, investors often foot the bill. “For governments in financial turmoil, like Argentina, foreigners are an easy and tempting target. They have little political power and real estate is immobile,” explains Dillon. Though it’s unlikely to happen in Europe, Spain, Italy and Cyprus’ fiscal messes could lead to extra taxes fees. Finally, xenophobia is a bad sign under any circumstances and property is no different. “Antipathy towards foreigners in general or a specific group,” stresses Dillon, which is different from revenue-generating duties. “Between 1979 and 1994, for instance, more than 200 holiday homes in Wales were burnt to the ground by arsonists protesting against wealthy English buyers, who they believed were making housing unaffordable for local people. Today, Chinese property owners in Vietnam or Russians in New York may be feeling uncomfortable,” he finishes. One message remains clear, however: Get a good lawyer. 37


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