Dave Sclair, publisher of Living With Your Plane, regularly addresses problems affecting residential airparks. Many of the questions he addresses come up during his presentations at various aviation events around the country.
Question: I noticed a number of fly-in communities in foreign countries. I mean places like Mexico, England, Australia, South America and places in Europe. In other words, anyplace except the United States and Canada. The photos on the Living With Your Plane website and the web pages of the airparks in these foreign places really make the facilities look great. Is it safe to buy into these properties? Are these safeguards I need to consider before buying? Are Americans treated differently when buying foreign properties?
Answer: Wow, great questions. Most of them had never come up before and they are issues that I’ve not personally considered. However, there are a few common factors that can be taken into consideration that should help you in making your personal decisions.
Like any real estate transaction it is critical that you understand the legal documents that are required to finalize the deal. It seems hard enough to understand the legal mumbo-jumbo that goes with most escrows and deeds when they are in English; having to understand them in a foreign language just ups the stress-factor by a considerable amount, in my opinion.
You need to acquire information about real estate purchases and sales in the country where you are interested in buying. Some countries I believe have restrictions against non citizens buying, for example, and you need to ascertain the facts.
I always advise people interested in purchasing fly-in community property to get the services of an attorney who knows real estate law and it helps if the person also knows something about aviation. In the case of foreign purchases, you’ve got to find someone who can help you with the language and the foreign laws and rules. This is of the utmost importance.
People in foreign countries aren’t going to take any more advantage of a foreign buyers than a local one, but you need to know what you are doing and how the rules are followed.
I agree that several of the airparks listed in foreign countries look absolutely beautiful. I’d love to visit several of them myself. Checking in with the US Embassy in that particular country might also be in line.
My final word and caution would be something like this: whatever care and precautions you would take when considering a real estate purchase within the United States, you should be even more aware of the potential problems when buying in a foreign country. Not because the people are out to “get” Americans, but simply because the laws and factors are different in different countries.
Does your airpark have issues that you’d like me to address? E-mail your question to me. Be sure to include your phone number in case I need clarification on your question.