For foreign buyers purchasing property in the United States, especially those who do not have Legal Permanent Resident (LPR) status, also known as “green card” status, confusion abounds as to how they can pay for their American purchase with foreign currency. Having helped countless foreign clients with their Orlando home purchases, we’ve heard every question in the book. For your convenience, we’ve compiled some of these questions, and their answers, in the list below.
Q: How do I send money to the U.S. for my purchase?
A: Today, most banks offer options for sending money out of the country. So wherever you are in the world, you should be able to find a financial institution willing to transfer your money.
Q: How is the currency exchanged?
A: Banks exchange international currency using an inter-bank exchange rate. This is the “real” exchange rate, on top of which the bank adds a margin to cover your fee for the service. They then charge you for the “exchange rate,” which is the inter-bank rate combined with your fee.
Q: What if I can’t find a bank who will send the money?
A: There are also international money transfer companies through whom you can send money to the United States. We work with Moneycorp, a U.K.-based transfer company with more than 30 years of experience.
Q: Do I need to have an American bank account to purchase American real estate?
A: If you plan to finance your purchase with a foreign national loan from a bank, then yes. Some private lenders don’t require borrowers to have an American bank account, though their flexibility is offset by higher rates. If you are paying cash, though, you can simply wire transfer the money.
Q: Can I open an American bank account as a non-citizen?
A: Yes! Per the Civil Rights Act of 1964, non-U.S. citizens can open checking or savings accounts in the States. However, individual institutions still reserve the right to deny your application.
Q: What documentation is required?
A: You will be asked to provide 2 forms of identification, one of which must be a photo ID like a passport or driver’s license. The other can be a less-formal ID like a debit card. You will also likely need to produce bank statements, documentation of your assets, and an individual taxpayer identification number (ITIN).
Q: Do I have to be present?
A: In most cases, yes. Since the signing of the Patriot Act and its provisional Customer Identification Program (CIP), followed by the financial recession 7 years later, American banks have adopted more rigorous identification standards. However, if an American bank such as Wells Fargo or Citibank has a branch in your country, you may be able to arrange for your local branch to vouch for you.
Q: Do I need a United States address?
A: Yes, but there are some useful loopholes to this rule. If you know an American citizen, you can use their address. And if you choose to do business with the Authentic Real Estate Team, we’ll even let you use our office’s address.
With the help of the Authentic Real Estate Team, Orlando has become a major hub for foreign real estate investors. Our team has helped countless foreign clients put their hard-earned money to work here in U.S.. No matter where you are in the world, we can help you move your money to the United States, and into the Orlando investment property of your dreams.