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Calls on property forums for more transparency in property world

To achieve this it also means having simpler systems to follow and this is an issue highlighted on the property forums this week. Especially when investing in a property abroad in a foreign language it is important to have an easy to understand system.

A lot of the current problems that some property investors in Bulgaria, for example, are facing are perhaps due to poor advice or lack of advice so that when things go wrong getting your money back proves hard.

One poster on the forum has begun a thread giving a simple guide to buying and selling property in Brazil and is one of the most informative pieces of information around. Its theme is getting back to the basics, the nitty gritty of property investment.

One of the most common themes which constantly comes through is how important it is to have independent legal advice. Many emerging foreign property markets are unregulated and there can be huge problems with paperwork with perhaps the title deeds debacle in Cyprus a prime example.

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However Goa is emerging as being on equal footing with the Cyprus fiasco. It is a highly unregulated, unorganised market yet has huge potential, as is pointed out on a several threads on the site. Reading them shows that the system can be abused and it is still not clear who can and cannot buy property legally in this Indian state as officials seem to interpret the law in different ways.

According to the thread many foreign owners still do not have their title deeds three to four years after buying. Many may end up being told that they have not bought their properties legally.

You can't get more basic than title deeds. It is, after all, the basic legal document that proves you own the property.

Another piece of back to basics information can be found on the same forum on the subject of buying property in Egypt, one real estate market where demand appears to still be high and prices reasonable. What is clear is that in emerging markets the law relating to real estate can change frequently. They don't have the basic legal infrastructure to cover all the intricacies that can emerge from foreign investment so much is still open to interpretation.

There is also a lot of calls for real estate agents to get back to basics in terms of offering good customer service. Estate agents in the UK, for example, have had a bad reputation and been regarded as greedy. The same is happening in the US where a new breed of greedy agents are cashing in on the misery of the property foreclosure crisis.

In many emerging property markets anyone can set up as an estate agent and there is no registration requirement or indeed an ombudsman to deal with disputes.

But it is not just in emerging property markets that real estate investors need to watch out. The woes of the Spanish market have been well documented with town officials often too ready to take bribes in the past and the whole question of planning permission still mired by the demolition crisis.

On the forum it is clear that Portugal too is a country where it is important to check the credentials of estate agents. In Portugal there is 'a legacy of illegal, unlicensed agents ripping off the elderly and the vulnerable that is absolutely sickening,' it is claimed by one poster.

Lack of communication is another area where even the most basic improvements would be welcomed by many property investors. Just this week there has been a lot on the forum about an estate agent going into administration.

In this case property investors found them difficult to get a hold off. Messages left on answering machines were ignored then the company's UK telephone number ceased working.

When this happens anxiety rises especially in the current economic climate. Thankfully a post on the forum has clarified the situation giving out the information that the UK public listed company has suspended their shares on the London stock exchange and they are subject to a trading statement. So the company is facing problems.

The same poster visited the company's office in Torrevieja to find them locked up and a notice on the door saying that they are in administration. This is a classic example of how lack of communication further tarnishes the real estate industry and leaves property investors with a sour taste, not to mention a huge headache about what is happening to their investment.

So it is clear that although good basics are needed in emerging property markets, the more established real estate sectors are not without their faults. It could be some time before people trust the business again never mind put their hard earned cash into some of these areas.