America prides itself on being the land of opportunity and the land of possibilities. The land of dreams. One’s dream usually includes having a nice, interesting life, fulfilling job, devoted friends and a loving family. In addition, owning a house or an apartment is an essential part of the American dream. And this is true for most people, no matter where they come from. Now, when you are a non-resident, you might be uncertain about your options and conditions regarding owning a property in the States. So, what are the things non-resident buyers need to know when contemplating buying their dream home?
Can non-resident buyers own a property in the U.S?
The question of all questions has a simple answer – yes. Non-resident buyers can own properties or invest in housing in the States. With the only exception of co-ops, which is not impossible, but rather difficult. If you would like to buy a property in the States, stay in the condo, apartment and house lane. It may be slightly more difficult to obtain the proper documentation, but don’t let that spook you. As a matter of fact, for many years, the business climate of the U.S. real estate economy has favored foreign buyers to domestic ones. This has been the case for a long time, and with the influx of foreign cash, it does not appear to be changing. What is changing is the perspective of buyers. Now comes the time for millennials to become homeowners. And Millennials have very different views from those before them. And, let me tell you – Millennials are changing real estate for sure. So, it doesn’t matter whether you are a non-citizen or not, what matters is – are you a Millennial or not?
Now let’s talk business
Now that we have established that non-residents can be homeowners, we can move to terms and conditions, and all other things you should know. First and foremost – not every state has the same regulations. Some are more welcoming toward non-resident buyers, some a bit less, so you need to do some research before the purchase. For instance, it is easier for non-residents to buy property in Texas than in Hawaii. Furthermore, non-residents that buy a property worth more than $100.000 in Ohio must fill some additional forms with the Secretary of State. There are other things that are state specific. While we are on the subject of Ohio, there are many things to know before you purchase a home in this state. Number one being – Ohio is the place to buy and not rent. This and other information is valuable for everyone because, even if you are a non-resident, you still have the same concerns as residents facing such an important decision.
Taxes, mortgages, and whatnots
When buying a house or an apartment or even a car, you must consider taxes and you must think of payment methods. Different states have different tax rates and regulations, but what is the same for all the states is the FIRPTA –Foreign Investment in Real Property Tax Act. Basically, there is a Federal law that applies to all property in all the states. Furthermore, if you are a foreigner, there are regulations between the country you are from and the U.S. to consider. These regulations will probably account that you will pay more than U.S. residents, but this depends on the treaty your country has with the U.S. Then, we come to the displeasing matter of finance. You have to pay for your desired property. Now, unless you have that much money in cash, you are gonna want a loan. Mortgages will probably come more expensive for you. You will need a bigger down payment, go through a longer and tougher approval process, and in the end face higher prices. Some banks even offer nonconforming loans instead of relying on mortgages. This may be the toughest part of home purchasing for non-resident buyers. In fact, this may be the reason such a high percentage of foreign buyers pay cash. However, sometimes you need to get a mortgage as a non-resident, so you have to do extensive research.
Now that you are buying a house – think about moving
Let’s take a moment to breathe and process. When you’re thinking about buying a house, you must think of moving to the said house. So, you need to think about the necessary parts of relocation. You can now begin packing and not think about taxes, mortgages, secret expenses… Think about the day you move into your new home. About decorating it. About being happy in your new home. Do what any other person that is buying a house needs to do. Organize your relocation. Mull over those tiring and mundane parts of moving – decluttering and packing. You should most definitely ask professionals for some packing assistance. You cannot do that on your own. Or you can, but you really shouldn’t. Start saying goodbye to your friends. Contemplate them coming for a visit. Promise them a room just for them in your new home. Get excited.
To sum up
What we have learned so far is that buying a property in the States as a non-resident is not unheard of. It has actually been on the rise ever since the bubble burst in ’08. You do not have to have a green card to buy a house in the States. You do, however, have to have an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number, which is given to people that are not eligible to obtain a Social Security Number. Non-resident buyers must consider taxation policies and rates and, if necessary, apply for a mortgage. Admittedly, this is not easy, so we strongly advise to use the help of the following:
- Consult a realtor
- Talk to a tax specialist
- Consult a finance expert
- Hire a moving company – especially if you are moving from a different continent. Be advised – you cannot move or ship everything to the States, so get well informed before shipping goods overseas.
Now that you have contacted all these people, and read all there is to about buying property in the States, we believe you will make an informed decision.
Condo, house, apartment…what to buy?
Now there is the question of – what is the best decision for you? Do you invest in a condominium, buy a house or get an apartment in a nice building? Certainly, this is the question that derives from your financial strength, but also your preferences. Moreover, do you build a brand new home or buy an existing home? It depends, again on your preferences. Maybe you find a house that you fall in love with. Or, maybe you want to build your dream home from scratch. These are all valid questions, and you are the only one that can answer them.
Once you decide to buy a house and build towards your dream, everything seems like sweet troubles. Whether you will buy or build. Whether it will be in the suburbs or in the city. Will you paint it yellow or beige? It is actually a part of the same dream. Now that you have established that it is possible, nay, welcoming for non-resident buyers to purchase property in the States, you can proceed to make your dreams come true!