If you could buy prime beachfront property at a bargain price, wouldn't you?
Finding a steal in the U.S. is probably not going to happen. Housing affordability is diminishing, and in some markets homes are even less affordable now than they were in the heyday of the housing bubble. So investors, retirees and adventurous buyers are looking internationally for options that offer a better bang for their buck.
Homebuyers open themselves up to more options and a larger range of price points when they're willing to look in countries other than the U.S. Plus, if a foreign market is experiencing rapid growth, there's a greater likelihood that buyers will get a large return on their investment.
But house-hunting abroad comes with its own set of hurdles. Namely, home financing is a very different process outside our borders. Interest rates can be higher and in some places down payments need to be larger. Also, buyers used to scrolling through listing websites won't find as much luck finding properties as they would in the U.S. -- many other countries don't have the multiple listing service to catalog available properties. And of course, there are language and legal barriers to face.
If you're considering an international investment property, step one is to find a good real estate attorney who understands the country's laws, especially if you're not fluent in the local language.
But if you're ready to take the plunge, consider these 10 places where your return on investment could be as nice as your coastal view. We worked with Live and Invest Overseas, a publication and research company specializing in international living, to determine the best international property buys for 2014. In culling the list, the firm considered many factors, including market events, currency fluctuations and tourism.
On Ambergris Caye, the largest island in Belize, there aren't many homes you wouldn't consider "beachfront." Its mild weather, tropical landscape and numerous recreational opportunities make it a highly sought-after destination for real estate investors and vacationers.
Ambergris Caye has recovered from the global housing crisis, but has retained prices that are still less expensive than similar Caribbean locations. You could snag a two-bedroom beachfront condo for around $250,000 or a one-bedroom condo just off the beach for $150,000 or less.
If the beach isn't your thing, consider buying property in the Cayo district of Belize. The mountainous area with lush jungles has condo prices that are usually half as expensive as the ones on Ambergris Caye: Two or three-bedroom houses can cost less than $100,000.
Housing developments geared toward American retirees have also been popping up in the area, with homes starting at around $130,000. These feature amenities many people in the U.S. are looking for, like well-paved roads, underground utilities, air conditioning and high-speed internet.