• International Insurance Blog

  • Friday, July 21, 2017

It is very easy for Americans, Canadians and other first-world citizens to get scammed in South America, because protections do not exist for land zoning, title insurance, real estate disclosure laws. Here are a few tips to avoid scams.

- Don’t believe hotel or resort operators. They may seem nice at first and capable of speaking in English, but they’re most likely just trying to make money off the tourists. Hire your own local translator. First, ask the broker to disclose their brokerage fee up front. Then ask to meet the land owner and discuss the selling fee directly with them so that you know the actual selling price. And remember, the seller should pay the brokerage fee, not the buyer. Failure to follow this strategy will get you screwed about half the time in Ecuador.
- Bring your own 50-meter tape measure, and measure the boundaries of the land yourself! There is a good chance that the seller is trying to sell lesser land than agreed. Also, don’t use the surveyors recommended by the person selling the land. Hire your own surveyors.
- This scam results in someone selling you a piece of property and you thinking you own the property even though someone else still has a lien on the property. Without title insurance and a title search, there’s no way to know about this in advance. One day you simply find out that someone else has a claim on your property. Since liens are sometimes very complicated in South and Central America, this is one to be especially careful about. Hire your own attorney and make sure your attorney looks over everything first, while watching out for YOUR interests!
- Never buy a piece of land without seeing it. Do not rely on websites or photos to give you an accurate sense of what’s really there. You might show up and discover you bought a piece of land right next to the city landfill or a smelly pork ranch.

The bottom line for people seeking land in Central or South America is that you should beware of real estate scams and do not have blind trust in any local laws to protect you, because chances are, there are NO local laws! There are no zoning laws, no real estate laws and no laws governing property titles.

Comment by Blog Contributor on 2009 07 09

Very useful advice. Thank you very much. I will aware of those scammers

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