The world’s Top 4 property investment markets

Real Estate | 17 Oct, 2019 |

I’m all in on real estate overseas. It’s the cornerstone of my investment portfolio and of my personal Freedom Plan.

In our world today, international property stands out more strongly than ever among investment options because it is both a hard asset and one of the best current opportunities for generating cash flow while building real, long-term, even legacy wealth.

These are my four favorite property investment markets right now. They are the world’s best options for diversifying across markets, currencies, and asset types for both big appreciation upside and cash flow of up to 17% per year that can continue for decades. In some cases, you can invest with as little as $35,000.

#1: Panama

I recommend Panama for two reasons specifically — rental apartments and agricultural opportunities.

Panama City, where resale transactions have slowed, is and will continue to be a buyer’s market in the short term. This year is a chance to buy on a dip, because, long term, I remain very bullish on the Panama City rentals market.

Yields continue to be strong, though not as strong as they were a couple of years ago, primarily because rents have softened.

Argentine, Colombian, and Venezuelan buyers have helped to keep the Panama City market stable and growing over the last dozen years, while other markets in this region have struggled or even collapsed.

Today, North Americans and Europeans continue to invest, but it’s Panama’s new relationship with China that I predict will fuel this economy through its next stage of growth. The Chinese are arriving on the scene in Panama in volume and bringing lots of investment capital with them. Remember the effects Chinese investment had in Vancouver in the 1990s? I see the same thing beginning to play out right now in Panama City, and I believe the result is going to be spikes in property values to new levels.

The second big opportunity for making money from real estate in Panama in 2019 is productive land. This country’s interior is a fertile breadbasket. Individual investors can even participate in organic plantations for turn-key agro-profits.

#2: Brazil

Brazil is a large country with many different property markets, and some are more interesting than others.

I recommend focusing on the Fortaleza area. This coastal region is a top destination among Brazilian tourists. Rentals targeting the local holiday market can earn better than 8% net yield reliably.

The Brazilian real remains stable against the U.S. dollar (at around 4.09 reais to US$1, as of this writing) and has been historically weak relative to the rate of 1.6 reais to the dollar of a decade ago.

Good yields and a weak currency make this country a very strong buy.

#3: Thailand

I primarily like Thailand for its agriculture, but this country also deserves attention for its strong economy and expanding tourism industry.

The downside in Thailand is that restrictions are placed on how foreigners can own property. Foreigners are only able to own land leasehold. (This is one advantage the aquaponics opportunity has over other kinds of real estate options in this country; there are no ownership restrictions.)

A foreigner can hold freehold title to the construction on the land, but, unless your house is portable, you might not take comfort from that. Foreigners are also permitted to own condos freehold as long as they don’t own more than 49% of the total area of the condo building. For this reason, the condo market is where most foreign investors focus their attention. A condo is also cheaper and easier to manage as a rental than an individual property.

Bangkok was the number-one visited city in the world in 2017 and last year received more visitors than London or Paris. Again, that’s worth the attention of would-be property investors.

#4: Portugal

Property markets in Portugal have been on the move since 2015. Some neighborhoods in Lisbon, for example, are now priced beyond what I believe is reasonable for a property investment. Other areas of this city, however, continue to offer good value and opportunity, especially if you’re up for a renovation project.

Right now, in the final quarter of 2019, I recommend focusing on the lesser-visited areas along the country’s Algarve coast and the Porto region north of Lisbon.

Note that it’s possible for a non-resident to obtain a mortgage for the purchase of property in Portugal.


Lief Simon is an international real estate investor and co-founder of Live and Invest Overseas. He is also Editor at Offshore Living Letter, a publication of Live and Invest Overseas. He has lived and worked in seven countries on five continents, managed businesses in 10 countries, and owned property in 21.

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