Foreigners can buy homes easily in the U.S.
Real Estate Adviser,
If I do not live in or have legal status in the U.S., but have a very good job in Europe, can I still buy a house in the U.S. as an investment or as a vacation home?
You certainly can. While there are still some erroneous perceptions,
recent law changes grant nonpermanent resident aliens, such as you,
most of the same purchase and home-financing opportunities that
American citizens have. If you are worried about your good employment
and credit records becoming lost in translation, many major U.S.
lenders now use credit-reporting agencies that have reciprocal agreements
with European countries and can use a simple currency conversion
table to track your current income and assets.
However, you will likely need to come up with a down
payment of 20 percent to 25 percent of the purchase price, depending
on the rules of the lender, which is a little higher than what most
Yanks pay. But relatively speaking, the home-buying process in the
U.S. is relatively simple and less bureaucratic for a foreigner
than it would be in most countries. And as you probably realize,
there are hundreds of Web sites where you can view American properties
online from the comfort of your European home to facilitate your
But you'll need to find quality representation. As
a foreigner, it is very important that you find a U.S. real estate
agent who is experienced in such sales and can thoroughly brief
you on the buying process and best coordinate your property visits
with the rest of the prepurchase and purchase details. These agents
are easier to find in highly populated areas, although most regional
and national realty firms have qualified people who can serve you.
I would also recommend the services of a U.S. real
estate attorney to guide you past the pitfalls, tax nuances and
other legalities. For example, even as a nonresident, you will still
have to pay U.S. real estate taxes. And if you do not have an individual
taxpayer identification number or U.S. Social Security number when
you sell the place, you may be subject to 10 percent withholding
tax. For more details, visit the Web site of the U.S.
Internal Revenue Service for rules for foreign owners of American
There are also a few European Web sites that presently
specialize in the U.S. property-purchase process, including a couple
new ones, www.immoamerica.com
set to debut in 2007.
Meanwhile, good luck on your journey across the pond and your U.S. real estate venture.
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