Many of our foreign clients’ first question when they call us is whether or not they can even buy American real estate in the first place. But no matter how many times we get this question, we never get tired of setting our clients’ minds at ease with a “yes, of course.” We go on to explain that while America has continually tightened its geographic borders in recent years, its economic points of entry have remained wide open to anyone with the means to stimulate the U.S. economy. In fact, foreigners are given almost exactly the same rights as citizens when it comes to purchasing American real estate.
Though foreigners are given nearly the same rights as American citizens when they buy homes in the U.S., there are some important caveats. We’ve outlined them for you below:
- Can foreigners buy homes in the US ? – Financing: If you plan to finance your American home purchase, you should know that while it’s a relatively straightforward process, it does differ in some important ways from financing offered to citizens. For example, at between 25 and 50%, down payments are much higher for foreign buyers. Also, the type of mortgage loan available to foreign buyers, called a foreign national loan, is easier to obtain from a private lender than a bank, though the banks that do offer them do so at lower interest rates than the private mortgage companies. Our comprehensive network of industry professionals includes both banks and private institutions that offer foreign national loans, meaning that whatever your needs, we can help you find a lender to meet them.
- Can foreigners buy homes in the US ? – FIRPTA: FIRPTA stands for Foreign Investment in Real Property Tax Act. It was signed into U.S. tax law in 1980 to ensure foreigners who make capital gains on sales of American real estate pay their taxes. The way it works is that when the sale is finalized, the buyer must withhold 15% of the gross sales price to send/report to the IRS. But even though you won’t have to deal with FIRPTA until you eventually sell your U.S. real property, and even though the responsibility to withhold it will then rest with the buyer, it’s good to be aware of it when you make your American real estate purchase, as there are ways to take titleship, such as under an LLC instead of your own name, that will allow you to keep FIRPTA withholdings in your possession.
- Can foreigners buy homes in the US ? – Estate Tax: Estate Tax is a tax on the net value of a deceased person’s estate, deducted before it goes to their heirs. Where it differs for foreigners is that only foreign-owned asset valued at less than $60,000 are exempt, as opposed to American citizens’ exemption for assets worth less than 5 million. Americans whose assets exceed 5 million dollars often hold their titles as trusts to qualify for exemption, but as a foreigner, receiving exemption for a property valued above $60,000 requires holding your title as a business entity or with right of survivorship. See our article, Estate Tax, to read more about this law and how to protect your assets.
CAN FOREIGNERS BUY HOMES IN THE US? The Authentic Real Estate Team are Central Florida’s premier foreign buyer’s agents. If you’re a foreigner with dreams of investing in Orlando’s thriving real estate market, we’re here to answer all your questions, and help you make your dreams come true.
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