Guest Writer: Sally Norton
The process of purchasing real estate is never easy, but it is even less so if you are a foreigner looking to buy in a country you do not call home. Fortunately, the USA doesn't aim to make it needlessly complicated for non-residents to acquire property. Nevertheless, the entire ordeal might seem a bit daunting if you do not know what you are getting yourself into. Sufficient research, planning, and preparation, although always imperative, are indispensable in this case. But what are the basics around which you need to plan your real estate experience? Take a look at these 5 steps for foreigners buying property in the USA to find out.
Narrow down your options
The USA is a huge country that got its nickname "the land of opportunity" for a very good reason. Still, it is not irrelevant where you choose to put down roots, even when possibilities are lurking behind every corner. You should consider different parts of the country, depending on whether you want to invest, buy a vacation home, or relocate your entire life to the US. What is it that presents itself as your biggest priority? Is it pristine beaches and tourist hotspots? The proximity to essential amenities and conveniences? Or maybe high-quality education and a family-friendly setting? Finding answers to these questions should be your primary focus since dividing your attention to several different real estate markets would only further complicate the process.
Moreover, once you narrow down your choices, you should think about the type of property you want to purchase. For instance, buying a condo is somewhat different from buying a house, which is something you need to prepare for and inform yourself about.
Thoroughly research the real estate market in your desired location.
Working with professionals is essential for foreigners buying property in the USAAlthough it is possible to execute the entire purchase with minimal assistance, this is a risky game not even seasoned real estate investors dare to play. Along the way, you will likely come across an endless array of question marks and confusion, which are nearly impossible to figure out alone. Luckily, there are many professionals in the real estate industry whose expertise you can and should take advantage of, especially as a foreign buyer.
One thing all real estate transactions have in common is money. There is not much to talk about without it, especially since American properties are not exactly what you would consider affordable. If you are like most foreigners buying property in the USA, you will likely need to take out a loan. To be able to do this and get a favorable amount and interest rate, you will need to establish and earn a good credit score. Since this step requires a few months, make sure to prioritize it and start on time.
During this stage, enlisting the help of a financial advisor is vital, as the US system is probably significantly different from what you are used to in your home country.
Sort out your finances before you take out a loan.
Familiarize yourself with tax requirements
While we are still on the topic of advisors, make sure to look into one for taxes as well! The type and amount of taxes you will be required to pay once you become a property owner in the US differ depending on several factors, which are easy to overlook without enough knowledge and experience. The good news is, you won't need to pay any additional taxes as a non-resident buyer, aside from property taxes! However, income tax might be a thing you will need to look into if you intend to use your property as a source of income.
Visit the property at least once before closing the deal
The fact that we are still powering through the pandemic certainly complicates the buying process for foreigners, but it does not make it impossible. You might not be able to be physically present during the entire process, but you should still do your best to visit the property at least once before actually signing on the dotted line. This will allow you to see whether you are indeed making the right decision, which is imperative if you want to relocate to the US with your furry friend and family. How else could you prepare your kids and pets for a challenge as big as an international relocation?
Fortunately, when it comes to touring properties, attending viewings, inspections, and other events, your realtor should be able to provide you with detailed video materials and even bring you along on video calls so that you don't miss anything important.
It’s wise to visit the property before closing the deal.
These 5 steps for foreigners buying property in the USA should help you lay a stable foundation for your real estate transaction. As a key takeaway, try not to be stingy when it comes to enlisting the help of professionals since this will likely be one of the biggest investments of your life. Mistakes along the way can be incredibly costly, but they can also be avoided with the right planning and clear goals in mind!
Jason Gelios is a Husband and Father. After that, a Top Producing REALTOR®, Author of the book Think like a REALTOR®, Creator of The AskJasonGelios Real Estate Show and Expert Media Contributor to media outlets across the country.