International Real Estate Guide: The Basics of Buying the US

In recent years, certain areas of the United States have become hotspots for international real estate investment. According to data from the National Association of Realtors, international buyers invested close to $70 billion in US single family homes during 2013. Buyers are flocking to popular cities like Los Angeles, Houston, New York, and Miami to find vacation properties and permanent residences. If you are an international buyer that’s interested in purchasing real estate in the United States, there are a few things you need to know about the process. Here are three important steps to take if you’re thinking of buying a home in the US.

Work With a Local Realtor

The process for purchasing real estate in the United States is different from the process in many other countries. Typically, buyers choose to work with a licensed real estate agent. Agents in the US have access to a shared database of property listings, as opposed to an individual list of homes in one particular area. Potential buyers can also browse these listings through real estate industry websites. If you’re interested in buying a home in the United States, your local realtor will serve as an important guide. They’ll be able to walk you through the buying process, share property listings that meet your designated criteria, and answer any questions you may have about purchasing real estate in the US.

Research Your Options for Financing

Different United States banks have different rules about financing homes for international buyers. It’s important to assess your financial situation ahead of time, and then contact area banks to determine your options. Some financial institutions require that international buyers have a certain percentage to put down on a property, while others might designate a specific amount like $150,000. Requirements vary based on the rules of each bank or credit union. Most United States financial institutions request income documentation, as well as information about personal debts. It may save time if you’re able to organize this information before you connect with a potential lender.

Partner With a Real Estate Attorney

The contract and negotiation process for buying US real estate can be challenging. If you are an international buyer that’s thinking about purchasing a vacation property or permanent residence here, you may want to consider partnering with an experienced real estate investment attorney. A real estate attorney will be able to guide you through the complex logistics of the process, and provide a list of lenders that have experience with foreign mortgage transactions. Your attorney will also be able to draft home contracts, review title insurance policies, and facilitate the closing process for your new home.

If you’re an international real estate investor that’s interested in purchasing property in the United States, it’s important to collaborate with industry professionals during the buying process. A local real estate agent and attorney will serve as your guides, and provide you with helpful information about financing, contracts, insurance, and potential home listings. Reach out to a local professional today to help facilitate your real estate transaction in the US.

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