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Sometimes Really Cheap Isn't a Good Deal

A friend recently forwarded information to me about cheap lots on a Caribbean island. Prices started at $7,550. That's an attention-getter, right?

In fact, this sounds-too-good-to-be-true offer (like every such offer I've come across in nearly 30 years seeking out real estate investment opportunities overseas) is just that—too good to be true. Property this cheap generally falls short on some or all of the three points that matter in any property investment—location, size, and infrastructure.

In the case of the Caribbean lots I'm thinking of, upon closer inspection, I found that they were not, in fact, Caribbean lots. They were lots on an island in the Caribbean, true, but they were far from the sea. They also lacked infrastructure and were being sold without an access road and without electricity. The developer promised to build a way in, but once built (I'd suggest, if built), it would be up to the lot owners to maintain the access. The developer never intended to provide electricity to the lots. His plan was to put up poles. The electric company, he suggested, would have to come behind him to string the wire and flip the switch.

Finally, the lots were really small—about one-tenth of an acre, which is 418 square meters, or 4,500 square feet. The developer suggested that a buyer might want to invest in more than one if he intended to build a house.

Bottom line, I'm not sure you'd want one of these lots if someone offered to give it ...

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