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A visa for foreign homebuyers?

By Judy Martel ·
Wednesday, December 7, 2011
Posted: 4 pm ET

As one way to unload the glut of housing inventory languishing on the market, two senators want to introduce a bill today that gives foreigners who buy a home in the U.S. a residence visa.

Foreigners would have to invest at least $500,000 in residential real estate (buyers can invest in more than one home as long as one is for $250,000 and the total is at least $500,000) and supporters of the proposal say it will help compensate for the lack of U.S. buyers. The Wall Street Journal reports that the bill, authored by Democrat Senator Charles Schumer of New York and Republican Senator Mike Lee of Utah, is part of a larger proposal of immigration measures designed to encourage more foreign investment in the U.S.

Currently, foreigners can receive a visa if they invest in a business in the U.S. that creates jobs. The proposed residential visa for homeownership would allow a buyer to bring a spouse and children under age 18 to the U.S., but not to work unless he or she obtained a work visa.

Some of the worst-faring housing markets in the U.S. are attractive to foreign buyers, including parts of Florida, California and Arizona. The National Association of Realtors (NAR) reports that international homebuyers accounted for $82 billion in home sales in the year ending in March. Half that amount includes recent immigrants and those who have held a residence visa for more than six months.

What do you think of the proposal to encourage more foreign homebuyers to invest in the U.S.?

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Oswald Douglas
January 19, 2012 at 6:03 pm

If the idea of chasing a buck was no so ingrained in the US physce you may be able to resist this suggestion. Only "white" western countries outside of Europe allow foreigners to buy them up, and their residents do not understand there is no bolt hole for them to go to once their country has irrevocably changed. Ther are no white refugees being welcomed by any country in the world, ask the Zimbabwe farmers who have been tossed out by Mugabe's regime, they have been accepted nowhere, and that can very easily be you. The USA should concentrate on getting all it's people back to work and not on some short tern bonus for bankers. It isn't Obama's fault, he was handed the lemon to suck on by Bush, the USA should have nationalised it's banks in trouble and then sold them off again, not just used taxpayer money to benefit a few shareholders and CEO's.

January 11, 2012 at 4:24 pm

@James - I don't know what you are talking about. FYI Asian Indians are the wealthiest minority in the US. So I am not sure how a wealthy minority can create slums in the US? So if someone invested 500,000 in the US real estate, can you please explain how that wouldn't help the US? From the sounds of it, looks like you are just scared to compete and be the best and make your own wealth and hence want to keep out competition. Remember the US was formed by immigrants and they worked hard to make this country the best and people like you are the ones that take this country for granted and are not working hard to progress this great nation economically and culturally.

Scott from NH
December 25, 2011 at 12:08 am

James: Sydney, Toronto, Dubai and Singapore are filled to the brim with foreigners and their economies are booming and their crime rates are lower than ours. Singapore will give you a blue card if you buy a house on Sentosa Island, but that will be like a $20m house, not a $500,000 one.

December 11, 2011 at 9:08 am

There are millions of Asian Indians lined up for Green Cards. We would in fact be selling the country to them. They are in the process of swamping us now. Look at countries like Canada, UK, Australia, Norway etc. These people will cook the books, lie, scam there way in and then we will be colonized by them. They will bring slums, welfare dependancy, crime etc. Do we really want to sell our country. Better to repatriate the jobs we off shored and get Americans back to work so they can buy the homes. We mustnt allow ourselves to be conned by this. I suspect the two senators or other politicians who propose this are in the pockets of these want to be immigrants.

December 08, 2011 at 7:53 pm

Well maybe our country should limit the number of residences that foreigners can purchase. It should also go the other way around.

December 08, 2011 at 8:33 am

Reply to casey: There is an equal and opposite problem in Canada where wealthy Americans buy Ontario lakefront cottages.

December 08, 2011 at 12:43 am

Overall, I dont agree with even letting foreigners purchase residential properties in our country. I live in AZ, and I am currently trying to purchase a home. I have had so many deals fall through or get scooped up by Canadians that I am starting to lose any hope of buying a home in my price range. For example, news reports within the last week mentioned a Canadian buyer purchased over 130 properties in our state alone! This is a disservice to American Citizens because in the end we will be paying more for our homes, if we can even manage to grab a property before our Canuck neighbors do!