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International real estate terminology and practice

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Real estate as “real property” in the U.K.

In British usage, “real property”, often shortened to just “property”, generally refers to land and fixtures, while the term “real estate” is used mostly in the context of probate law, and means all interests in land held by a deceased person at death, excluding interests in money arising under a trust for sale of or charged on land. As one main object of “probate” is to “prove” title to the real estate interests in the property held by a deceased person at the time of death, and the earliest recorded use the word in this capacity is 1463, it is reasonable to assume this tradition dates back to the death of the first owner of the ‘allodial land’ referred in the Etymology section above to die.

Real estate in Mexico and Central America

Real estate business in Mexico, Canada, Guam, and Central America operates differently than in the United States.

Some similarities include legal formalities (with professionals such as real estate agents generally employed to assist the buyer); taxes need to be paid (but typically less than those in U.S.); legal paperwork will ensure title; and a neutral party such as a title company will handle documentation and money to make the smooth exchange between the parties. Increasingly, U.S. title companies are doing work for U.S. buyers in Mexico and Central America.

Prices are often much cheaper than most areas of the U.S., but in many locations, prices of houses and lots are as expensive as the U.S., one example being Mexico City. U.S. banks have begun to give home loans for properties in Mexico, but, so far, not for other Latin American countries.

One important difference from the United States is that each country has rules regarding where foreigners can buy. For example, in Mexico, foreigners cannot buy land or homes within 50 km (31 mi) of the coast or 100 km (62 mi) from a border unless they hold title in a Mexican Corporation or a Fideicomiso (a Mexican trust).  In Honduras, however, they may buy beach front property directly in their name. There are different rules regarding certain types of property: ejidal land — communally held farm property — can be sold only after a lengthy entitlement process, but that does not prevent them from being offered for sale.

Real estate agents in Costa Rica do not need a license to operate, but the transfer of property requires a lawyer. In Mexico, real estate agents do not need a license to operate, but the transfer of property requires a notary public.

Real estate in Thailand and South East Asia

In Thailand it is not possible for a foreigner to own land but property can be purchased then Land acquired under a 30 year lease option; Until recently it was considered by most legal advisors that the ownership of land by a foreigner through a Thai Limited Company was acceptable, although the Law clearly states that foreigners cannot own land in Thailand. The Government has now made clear that such ownership may be illegal. The legitimacy of such ownership depends on the status of the Thai Shareholders who must be shown to be active and financially participating shareholders.

This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia.

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