Top Tips & Advice for Buying a Property in the USA.So you’re looking to buy a property in the USA? Whether you’re moving abroad or buying a holiday home, there are some things that you should know before embarking on the process of buying property in the USA.
Whilst it isn’t a difficult process, there are some differences to the UK system that you will want to be aware of. Luckily, we’re here to help. In this guide, we’ve shared some useful information on the current USA property market as well as our top tips for buying property in the USA. Let’s get started!
Yes, anyone can buy a property in the USA regardless of whether they have US citizenship. You can even apply for a mortgage in America as a non-citizen if you require it. However, property-owners will face more complex tax laws as a non-citizen. Therefore, it’s really important to understand the tax rules in the USA before going ahead with a property investment.
The process of buying a property in the USA is more straightforward if you can pay for the full cost of the property in cash. If you require a mortgage, then it can be a bit more complicated. This is because there are some financial requirements that you will have to meet to qualify for an American mortgage. Most lenders will require you to have a certain credit score and that you have lived and worked in the US for at least two years.
1. Buying a property: are you eligible purchase in the US?
The United States has always encouraged foreign investment in property. In truth, there are very few differences between the way a non-national is treated as a homebuyer – and indeed a homeowner – compared to US citizens. The main difference will usually centre on how much time you can stay in the country as a non-US national.
Without a visa, you can stay in the US for ninety days. This is because the UK is a part of the US Visa Waiver Program that allows you to travel visa-free. If you intend to stay for more than ninety days or are travelling for reasons other than business or tourism, then you will need to apply for a visa prior to travelling to the US. A nonimmigrant visa will allow you to gain temporary residency varying from three months all the way up to ten years (depending on the visa you choose).
Are you looking for a holiday home? A property with investment potential? Somewhere you want to live in or retire to? If you’re after investment returns, you will need to research carefully which areas have the property markets that do well for investment – holiday rentals, student accommodation, and so on.
Look at those areas and property types that have performed consistently and offered good returns in the past. Check out whether there are any events happening that could lead to increased demand for property, such as sporting events (the Olympics, football tournaments – English or American football, for that matter!), big festivals, or even specific developments like a new harbour or shopping centre complex.
It will come as no real surprise to learn that the vast majority of overseas property purchasers in the United States do tend to focus on homes in the tourist hotspots of Florida, California and, to a lesser extent, Texas and New York.
3. Can you stay in the US?
While the United States has long been a popular country for overseas property hunters, particularly British citizens, and those from the majority of countries, may only visit the US for business or pleasure without a visa for up to 90 days per year. Therefore, if you would like to spend more time making the most of your property then you must hold a B-2 visa. This visa entitles the holder to stay for up to six months (the maximum amount of time non-residents can stay in the States). Applicants for a B-2 visa must also prove they have sufficient funds to support themselves during their stay.
If you are looking to move to the States full-time, then this is a whole other ball game. America’s immigration laws are notoriously complex and time-consuming, and anyone hoping for a permanent life across the Pond will need to overcome many barriers in order to do so.
You can find out more information regarding immigration options in our guide to getting set up in the US and check out our partner site Emigrate2 for the latest news on US immigration policy and how it could affect you.
4. Have you thought about where you want your property to be in the US?
Although a long journey, it’s important to visit any property or development in person so you can see for yourself what the neighbourhood is actually like; get a feel for the area and the property itself; check out how close it is to the local amenities, any bonuses like beaches or country adventures, and public transport links.
5. Do you have a set budget?
It’s important to have an idea in your mind of how much your property will cost – in total – and how you will be paying for it. A clear idea of the budget helps you set specific goals and will mean you can make the most of any funds you have available to you to find the right property.
Buying property in the United States could mean you will have to exchange your currency for US Dollars. Get in touch with a currency specialist early on in your research, so you can stay on top of exchange rates and also plan how currency fluctuations will affect your guests. That way, you can include your international payments in your overall budget and stay in control of any of the less obvious costs.
6. Prepare for extra charges and hidden fees
While you should be aware of additional charges when purchasing the US, you may be pleasantly surprised that there aren’t too many hidden costs when. You should typically allow of the purchase price to cover all taxes and fees for buying US property – among the lowest you will find anywhere in the world.
However, once you own the property, you may be subject to extra costs, particularly if you own in a resort. It is also worth noting that if and when the time comes to sell your US property, then you are likely to experience some unexpected costs here. For example, the seller often pays the fee.
The tax regime in the USA is renowned for its complexity – seek professional financial and legal advice.
7. Paying for Your Property
When it comes to paying If you need to send money to the USA, you should do it through a foreign exchange expert to avoid paying the high fees that you will have to pay at a high street bank. A professional foreign exchange company will be able to secure you the very best rate so that your money will go further.
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Ana speaks 3 languages (Portuguese, English, Spanish), Wife, Stepmom, Journalist, Event Director for the National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals (NAHREP) Central MA Chapter.