Beware those overseas land deals

Soft-focus pictures show Portugal, Mexico, the Bahamas, and lots of other places, as places to play golf, to have a second home, to gather regularly with the family, and spend retirement.

But some of these promotions have been trouble to American investors, says the United States Department of Housing and Development (HUD).

Divided lots, rancheros, condos, and ski lodges have figured more and more in investment sales pitches from overseas developers. Foreign promoters use national advertisements, telephone solicitation, direct-mail releases, and let-us-fly-you-there techniques.

HUD, which administers the Interstate Land Sale Full Disclosure Act, advises caution before investing, especially in properties in foreign countries. It warns:

* Check up on foreign regulations concerning ownership. Some countries do not allow non-nationals to own property at seaside locations, for example.

* Owning property in other countries can be costly not only because of travel , but also because of permits or legal counsel that may be needed.

* The US government has no property enforcement authority in other countries.

Further information can be obtained by writing HUD, Office of Interstate Land Sales Registration, Washington, D.C. 20410.

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