If you are at your preliminary search stage of finding a property, you probably need to just contact an Realtor who has knowledge and experience in international transactions. I am a member of such specialty organization, I have completed several international transactions, have attended international sales conferences for real estate in Europe, and my background prior to real estate was in international sales and marketing. I, however, am not a licensed Realtor in CA, and cannot extend direct help to you. I am sure you can find a Realtor to help you if your search here:
There may come a time when you have specific legal questions that are beyond the scope of a real estate licensee, and your agent can refer you to an attorney that can assist you. Many of the basic procedures in place for international transactions can be explained to you by a Realtors with experience in that area.
As real estate licensees, we are not attorneys, and most of us are even "over cautious" to refer to an attorney when we think it approaches a situaiton or question beyond our capability. I suggest you start with a Realtor who can explain the basics, help with property searches, and provide you referrals to attorneys with expertise in this area for the time when you will need legal counsel.
Although I am not attending this year, the SIMA expo is coming up very soon.....and it is in Spain. If you are near Madrid, it runs April 8-12. Many of the US Realtors who attend stay for a time after the official show concludes. There will be booths there with US properties for sale. While stopping at those booths might give you a few brochures....here's my recommendation if you can go.
See if you can ask the National Association of Realtor office to connect you with any attendees from the San Fancisco area. If you email or call the NAR office which coordinates the US Realtor attendees, ask for attendees from San Francisco. At SIMA (I am not going this year...I have previously attended)....there is a large pavillion w/ US representatives. You could arrange to meet any San Francisco attendees at that pavillion....if you are near or in Madrid during the SIMA show. Here's a contact person in the US who is coordinating the travel and attendance of US Realtors to SIMA:
International Operations Staff
National Association of REALTORSÂ®
430 North Michigan Ave.
Chicago IL 60611
Here's a link to SIMA
If you ever need help in Jersey, let me know! I will answer what I can, and quickly refer you to an attorney who knows real estate and has closed transactions with buyers from abroad.
Best of luck in your search in San Francisco!
Deborah Madey - Real Estate Broker
Peninsula Realty Group - New Jersey