15 Critical Questions to Ask When Buying Property Overseas: Part 1

This blog is the first in a 15-Part Series from Mike Cobb, CEO of ECI Development. As an offshore real estate and resort developer, Mike has used his experiences in Central America to create the “15 Critical Questions to Ask When Buying Property Overseas.”

Buy What You See: Accessibility

One thing that you need to accept right off the bat is that buying real estate abroad is going to be nothing like buying real estate in North America. There are many things one must account for, and more importantly ask, that wouldn’t be of concern if you were buying a house in the US. For that reason, I put together a list of the 15 top questions that an interested buyer should ask before committing to a property or project overseas. They follow three central themes: Buy What You See, Own Community, and Know the Developer.

The first question:

Is there year-round access to the property? What is the drive time from shopping, dining, and the airport?

The question of location is always an important one in real estate, but in developing nations where infrastructure can be questionable, it becomes paramount. In Central America, not all roads are accessible year-round. Streams that barely flow in the dry season can be raging torrents during the rainy season.

What to Avoid:

If looking at a potential residence or second home in Central America, you need to know what road conditions are like during the rainy season. What if you need to utilize emergency services, or catch a flight? Even if it looks like the property is a short distance from services, time is actually the key measurement, not distance. Even if there is fine dining just 10 miles down the road, that distance could equate to an hour or more during the rainy season.

With our Gran Pacifica property in Nicaragua for instance, the site was specifically chosen because of its proximity to the airport and other services. It has easy accessibility from the capital, and can be reached year-round. This accessibility has helped turn rainy season into one of the resort’s busiest times. It’s a great illustration of the difference year-round accessibility can make.

What to Look For: 


This information is vitally important to any real estate investment in Central America. Many buyers have made the mistake of purchasing a property that seemed perfect in dry season, only to find that they could not access it over half of the year. In Panama, for instance, rainy season can last up to 8 months. That’s why it is essential to Buy What You See. Find out when the rainy season is, and visit then. If the developer has confidence in his product, he will welcome you no matter when you decide to visit.

That’s it for the first of my 15 Critical Questions series, and I hope you stay tuned for future entries. I have been developing in Central America for over 15 years, and have learned a lot, as well as seen a lot of mistakes made. “You don’t know what you don’t know,” is one of my favorite mottos, and it will always hold true, but asking these questions will help you be a much more informed buyer should you decide to look at overseas property.

If you are interested in additional information, I'm holding a special training Tuesday, August 18th at 7:00pm ET where I'll briefly walk you through the rest of the 15 Critical Questions and show you exactly how you can profit from working with international developers by implementing a simple and easy strategy. If you would like to register, please click here. I hope to see you there.

mike cobb

With proven experience in international real estate development, Mike Cobb is a time-tested Industry Sage, expert and entrepreneur with a passion for helping consumers achieve a high quality of life. Mike speaks at dozens of international conferences annually about offshore real estate finance, development, and ownership.  He was consultant to The Oxford Club, has a weekly radio program, contributes regularly to overseas publications, sits on the board of several international companies, gives counsel to various real estate projects throughout Central America, and serves on the Presidential Advisory Group for the National Association of Realtors.  You may contact Mike directly here