How to Buy a House in the USA as a Non-U.S. Citizen?

How to Buy a House in the USA as a Non-U.S. Citizen?

If you live or work in the United States or want to diversify your investment portfolio, you’d be wondering if an expatriate can buy a house in the USA.

Good news!

Whether you are a U.S. citizen or not, you can buy a property in a relatively simple way. It is not a legal requirement to hold U.S. citizenship or permanent residence to own real estate in the United States. However, buying a property does not automatically qualify you for lawful permanent residence. There are different categories outlined by the USCIS to determine the eligibility of foreign nationals to live in the United States permanently.

buy a house in the USA

Here are the steps to buy a house in the USA as a foreign national:

1. Find a Suitable Location

Start your journey with thorough real estate planning. And a key step is to choose a suitable location. U.S. immigration laws do not restrict non-residents or foreign nationals from buying real estate anywhere in the United States. The ideal location will vary based on whether you want to buy a primary residence in the U.S., an investment property, or a vacation home.

However, there are several factors you should consider when choosing a location to buy a house in the USA – community type, ease of commute, amenities nearby, schools & recreation, the scope of future development, etc.

2. Work with a Real Estate Law Firm

Buying a real estate property in the U.S. can be an intimidating process. However, getting professional real estate services can help you with effective planning, mitigate risks, and address contract disputes which may arise during the process. A real estate law firm in the U.S. has in-depth knowledge of the industry and can help prepare the purchase-sell agreements in your best interests.

3. Know the U.S Tax Laws

Tax laws in the United States can be complex, particularly if you are a foreign national or a non-resident buying a house in the country. Therefore, it is important to be well-versed with the tax code and understand what you owe. Typically, non-resident aliens are taxed at a 30% rate on the income they earn from real estate purchases in the USA. This can be less if your country of residence has a special tax treaty with the U.S.

how to buy a house in the USA

In most cases, you would require getting an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) to buy a house in the USA. However, you do not need this if you already have a Social Security Number (SSN).

4. Search Residential Properties in the U.S. and Make an Offer

Work with a real estate agent to start searching for suitable homes in the location you are eyeing for. It is ideal to view the homes in person. But if that is not possible, ask your real estate agent for a video tour. When you find a home that suits your budget and needs, work with a real estate law firm to determine a competitive price and make an offer. It depends on the seller to accept, counteroffer, or reject the offer.

5. Perform Due Diligence

If you and the seller agrees on the price of the property, it is important to perform due diligence. This involves thoroughly inspecting the home to verify its condition and identify structural or legal issues if any before you decide to buy a house in the USA. Due diligence will enable you to determine the right value of your property and negotiate with the seller for better terms.  

A home inspection is typically done by your real estate agent or you can hire a home inspection company. If everything seems favorable about the property, you can enter into an agreement with the seller.

6. Get Home Financing

Unlike what you might think, you can get a loan in the U.S. without having to prove a U.S. credit history as an expatriate. You can find several U.S. lenders who offer mortgages for non-resident buyers and immigrants at a competitive rate, and with no U.S. credit history required. They also provide mortgages to non-immigrant visa holders.

buying a house in the USA

7. Close the Deal

Once you obtain financing, work with a real estate law firm before you sign the contract and close the deal. Once you close the deal, the process of title transfer will begin and you will legally own the home.

It can be intimidating to buy a house in the USA. So, make sure you work with an expert real estate law firm that can help you navigate through the process and complete the deal.

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