If you’re an avid traveler, you know there are amazing properties to be found in almost every city around the world. And if you’re a property investor, you know there’s only so much value you can extract from the properties in your local neighborhood. An ideal arrangement would be to buy and manage properties in different areas, all from the comfort of your own home—but obviously, there are some major disadvantages to this approach. Not only would it be difficult to scout and tour new properties to add to your portfolio, but you’d also be unavailable to fix problems or maintain the property in person.
So is this arrangement possible, and if so, how?
Licensing and Partnerships
First, you need some way to manage your real estate transactions. Different states have slightly different requirements for their real estate agents, and in many cases, you can earn your real estate license for a given state online. However, having a real estate license in one state doesn’t necessarily qualify you to buy and sell real estate in another state. It definitely won’t qualify you to buy and sell real estate in another country.
Accordingly, your best option is to form partnerships with real estate options in other states and countries—wherever you plan to do business. Consider attending networking events for real estate investors to find people specifically interested in property investing, or look online to broaden your options. These people will help you better understand local markets in other areas, and can help you in the touring, purchasing, and management process in the future—as long as you make it worth their while.
Touring and Purchasing
One of the biggest challenges to overcome is touring and making the purchase. If looking for a property in a nearby neighborhood, you’ll likely visit it in person multiple times, inspecting it for damage, doing walk-throughs, and getting a feel for the neighborhood.
If you’re buying properties remotely, you won’t have this advantage. However, thanks to modern technology, you may be able to take a virtual tour. With the help of 360 photography and drones, you can get up close and personal with your prospective properties—and maybe even the surrounding neighborhoods. It’s no substitute for an in-person walkthrough, but it could help you narrow down your initial options. Once you have a handful of properties that make the final cut, you can schedule an in-person tour to make your final decision.
Because you won’t be available to do much of the maintenance or management yourself, you’re going to lean heavily on the services of a property management firm in your selected area. Depending on the type of property you have and the type of contract you sign, this firm may handle things like rent collection, tenant screening, marketing and advertising, yardwork, repairs, and ongoing maintenance for the property.
Generally, property management firms charge a fee based on the services provided and the rental income generated by the property. If you find a good deal, you should still be able to pocket a profit each month after paying the firm. If you have multiple properties in the same area, the property management firm may be willing to cut you an even better price.
If you’re collecting income from properties in multiple states, or multiple countries, and you’re simultaneously juggling additional expenses for travel and property management services, your taxes are going to get complex. Make sure you’re tracking all your income and expenses thoroughly, and familiarize yourself with tax laws in different areas. In fact, it may be in your best interest to work with a tax attorney.
Is It Worth It?
While it’s possible to invest in properties in remote locations, as you can see, it’s a lot of extra work. Is it really worth the additional effort, when much of your additional profits will be spent on property management and travel?
The short answer is “it depends.” Many property investors will feel more comfortable and more confident investing in properties in areas close by, both to keep a tight leash on their finances and to capitalize on areas they’re more likely to understand. However, there are opportunities in other locations to be found—as long as you’re willing to put in the work and take an additional risk.
For the average property investor, remote property management is more of a headache than it’s worth. But if you’re particularly fascinated with a specific area of the country (or the world), or you’re looking for an excuse to travel somewhere else, investing in a remote property could be a viable option. Make sure to look at all the possibilities before moving forward with a decision.