Buying and Selling Real Estate in the United States
The United States has always been called the “land of opportunity”. That’s especially true when it comes to real estate investments.
A big attraction to foreign nationals is the variety of locales that are available in the U.S. You have beaches, mountains, deserts, and flatland. You have quaint rural areas and exciting city life. You have areas that change with the seasons and those that stay above 50 degrees all year long.
As varied as the locations, so are the choices of housing. The U.S. offers both historic homes and new construction. Single family, duplex, condominiums, townhomes, city apartments, ranches, farms, whatever your dream home, you’ll find it in the U.S.
Who’s buying where?
The U.S. is a melting pot. While English is the most common language spoken, there are also parts of the population who speak Spanish, Chinese, Japanese, and just about every other language. Many of these citizens locate to specific areas — so it’s common to find large groups of people who speak the same language living in certain areas of the country.
• Canadians are the number one foreign buyers in the U.S. and have been a purchasing force in Sunbelt states like Arizona and Florida and in the Midwest, including Chicago. Buyers from Mainland China and Hong Kong are the second-largest foreign buyers of U.S. homes.
• Downtown Miami has been attracting a lot of buyers from Argentina, Brazil, and Venezuela. But Europeans, particularly the French, have also been buying more in Southern Florida. The attraction is cheap waterfront real estate.
• The French and Argentineans are also buying in New York City. And South Koreans have been purchasing investment properties in the New York metro area and condos on the West Coast.
Foreign Buyers Legal/Tax Implications*
You don’t have to be a citizen to purchase or own property in the U.S. To help you understand the buying process here is some basic information about general U.S. real estate practices.
• While standards vary based on the bank, most qualified foreign buyers can obtain financing for properties with a 40% down payment. While banks offer loans to foreign buyers, they require a long-term relationship beyond the mortgage. Some require a $100,000 deposit with the bank.
• Foreign buyers typically do not have to be present for the closing. They can provide someone with “Power of Attorney” to close the deal on their behalf.
• Foreign buyers overall tax liability may differ from U.S. residents depending on their home country’s tax treaty with the U.S.
*Please consult with a lawyer and tax advisor for details regarding legal implications as well as U.S. taxes and home country taxes.