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NYTimes: “Everyone is Splitting.”

Jillian shot me this link to an amazing New York Times article, from the real estate section. Apparantly, it’s official: Anyone can buy internationally. More importantly, everyone IS. Time to move fast:

“The trend is just starting to emerge, as low interest rates and rising property values at home, cheaper air travel and the globalization of the housing market have prompted Americans to canvass the planet for vacation homes beyond the tourist beltway. In addition, baby boomers are better-traveled than their parents and think nothing of sinking money into foreign soil, especially as the domestic market seems to be overheating.

‘Real estate has enjoyed a boom for the past five years, and it’s spilled over internationally,’ said Jeff Hornberger, the manager of international business development for the National Association of Realtors in Washington. ‘Someone who bought a house for $300,000, that’s now worth $600,000, may want to downsize and get a second home. But when they see the prices in Florida, they start looking overseas.’

That is basically how Marie Munday, 50, a deputy sheriff from Aspen, Colo., ended up as an international snowbird. As her house tripled in value over the last decade, she began condo shopping in Florida, but the prices were still beyond her reach. So she got off the beaten path and landed in Panama.

For $54,000, she and her husband, Chip Munday, 49, a property manager, bought a half acre last month in Altos del María, a new second-home community in the mountains of Panama, about 90 minutes from Panama City. ‘We hope to do a high-end home with a vanishing-edge pool,’ Ms. Munday said. ‘Labor here is pretty cheap. High-end construction is about $65 a foot. In Aspen, the norm is $400.’

With the notable exception of Africa, hot zones like Iraq and Afghanistan and restricted spots like Cuba, few corners of the world seem to be off limits to intrepid home buyers anymore.

‘What’s a verboten place?’ asked Mr. Michonski of Coldwell Banker. ‘I can’t think of one. We’re seeing this happening around the world. London plumbers are buying places in Portugal. Europeans are buying in Florida. Greece is on the verge of a huge boom. It’s identical to global trade. In fact, they’re tied together.’

For one thing, real estate listings are no longer a local commodity. Not long ago, a tourist might have stumbled upon a ‘for sale’ flier at a local cafe. Today, all one needs to do is plug a country name and the words ‘real estate’ into a computer search engine to see what’s available. That even works for places as hard to travel to as Fiji, which is about a 10-hour flight from Los Angeles. “

So that’s that, people. All you need is a bit of money, some good timing, and some courage. Read the full article here, at the NYTimes website. Registration required.

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