Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Buying Real Estate? Friendly Advice

We are meeting more and more folks who are buying real estate here in Cuenca.
Some are buying quickly, sometimes within just a few days!

We've gotten a few questions off-blog and even at expat gatherings, asking for advice as folks look and buy...so, we thought we'd address some items here.

First, we are not realtors here and we are not attorneys. Rich has been in the real estate business for over 45 years, but that's in California and in Oregon in the US. 

The best advice we can give is do your homework, ask a ton of questions, and get legal advice!

Laws and procedures  here are very different from the US.  Realtors will show you property, but often will charge a showing fee of up to $75/day.  Sometimes the fee is applied to your purchase price if you buy, sometimes not...be sure to ask upfront.
Also, be sure to ask who is paying the commision...buyer or seller. 

Sometimes a realtor will tell you that an attorney isn't needed (sometimes attorneys are viewed by realtors as 'deal breakers'...sometimes for good reason!)...We are very glad we used attorneys to help us get through the legal processes.  Worth the fees...In our opinion.  Our attorneys provided written translation of all documents, in English, too.
We suggest getting your attorney involved, as early in the process, as possible....

If you decide not to use an attorney for the transaction, be careful.  You will want to be sure both the land and the building have a clear title, and the person who is selling really does has the right to sell...

Another difference here is for estate planning... Your Will in the US doesn't necessarily apply here.  In Ecuador, the surviving spouse doesn't automaticially become the sole owner of previously jointly-owned property...  ask a good attorney to expain how it works in Ecuador.  Your children, your siblings, your parents all have a stake, could be equal to or more than your spouse.

Sometimes 'rules' are 'customary', not necessarily the law.  Be sure to ask if there is a law or if it's just 'practice'...  sometimes it makes a huge difference.

Oh, and ask about that land phone line...it goes with the house....and same ownership issues can apply. 

Hope this helps...

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