How a Foreign National Can Buy Real Estate in America

Opportunities for real estate investment for foreigners is wide
and varied in the United States. It doesn’t matter where you’re from and
what currency you’d be using to purchase a property, you have a
property waiting for you.

There are generally three kinds of real
estate investment available to foreigners. These investments include the
commercial estate investment and residential property investment.
Residential properties are further classified into single family
properties, apartments or condominiums and recreational properties.
Regardless of what kind of real estate you are interested in, there are
all sorts of tax ramifications, financing options and legal requirements
that you have to deal with.

Why Should You Invest in the U.S. Real Estate Market?

You’ve
probably heard of the increasing number of foreign real estate
investments in the United States. This is not surprising. With the
troubles that the real estate investment market is facing in the United
States, greater opportunities in real estate investment were opened to
foreign investors.

With the dollar’s value in its all time low,
foreign investors are finding real estate bargains all over the United
States. There are no shortages of deals in this market. More and more
distressed properties are being sold everywhere and foreigners are
pouring in millions buying these foreclosed or distressed properties.
The United States real estate has become a fairly attractive long-term
investment for foreign investors.

In November of 2006, the
National Association of Realtors released a report entitled “Foreign
Investments in U.S Real Estate: Current Trends and Historical
Perspective”. The report showed that there has been a steady increase in
foreign real estate investment in the United States. This is especially
after the euro and the loonie became stronger in the face of the
continuous devaluation of the US dollar. Prime bargains were opened to
foreigners. Many foreigners have now looked into the possibility of
retiring or settling in the United States.

If you’re a foreigner,
you would find a lot of reasons why you should invest in the United
States real estate market. Aside from the fact that the floating
exchange rate has given you a lot of leverage over the bargaining table,
the financial market is a pretty good reason why you should invest in
the US real estate.

The financial market in the United States in
relation to the real estate market is quite liberal and the restrictions
against foreign investors are pretty reasonable. This is ideal for
foreign companies that are seeking to invest in the real estate market
in the United States in order to avoid tariff restrictions and are
considering setting up an office or a company in the United States.

Furthermore,
despite the devaluation of the US dollar and the wide foreclosures of a
lot of property, the real estate market remains to be stable, though
slightly shaky, due to foreign investors’ capital appreciation. Domestic
real estate buyers may not necessarily share the same opinion, but the
market has remained to be strong for foreign real estate buyers. This
may be largely credited to the fact that there is minimal risk for them.

Why are Foreign Real Estate Investments Safe and Profitable?

There
are a lot of investments you can make, but the safest you can make
right now is investing your money in real properties. This is another
good reason aside from the fact that you can make a pretty nifty profit,
if you like, particularly now with the widespread property foreclosures
and seemingly continuous US dollar devaluation. This is especially true
if you are going to use the euro or the loonie when making your
investment.

But why is US real estate investment safe for foreigners?

It
is undeniable that stock investments are not a safe avenue at this
point. The recession has not only affected the US economy; the same
recession has greatly affected worldwide stock investments. Stocks
values are dropping. It is also a fact that even without the current
economic situation, stock values fluctuates.

On the other hand,
real estate investments are pretty stable if you would compare it to
stock investments – or even bond or mutual fund investments. With real
estate investment, you’d be putting your money in an investment that
would grow in value as years go by.

What are the Benefits of Foreign Real Estate Investment?

US
state government supports foreign investments and along this line has
formulated various tax breaks to encourage foreign investment on real
estate. Many of these tax breaks are not available in many countries. In
fact, most countries would frown at foreigners owning real properties
within their territory.

Foreign real estate investment in the
United States is open to everyone. As long as you can afford to buy the
property or at least comply with the mortgage requirements and
payments, you can secure for yourself a pretty good property in the
United States. Again, with the current economic situation of the United
States, this is the perfect chance for you to make an investment.

Another
great benefit that you can take advantage of is the availability of
mortgage financing. Lenders have opened their doors to foreign investors
who are looking into purchasing a property. So, you don’t have to
actually deplete your bank account. You can actually secure a mortgage
loan and gradually pay it off.

I’m Canadian, What Are My Financing Options?

There
is a steady increasing rate of Canadian real estate investors in the
United States; and accordingly, the government has made certain that
they have attractive financing options available to them.

If
you’re Canadian – or if you’re a foreigner – you’d find a lot of reasons
why you should buy a piece of real property in the United States. For
Canadians, the parity of the currencies or the apparent devaluation of
the US dollar is a pretty good reason itself. But how do you finance
your purchase?

There are various financing options available to
you depending on which state you are in. In Arizona, for instance, you’d
get favorable financing terms if you are purchasing a property for
recreational purposes, that is, you do not derive any income or benefit
from your purchase or ownership. You will be required, however, to sign
up a disclosure agreement and give a 30% down payment for your loan. To
qualify though for a loan, you may be required to show availability of
liquid reserves for a period of three to six months. You may also be
required to present a minimum of 3-month bank statement.

If you
are purchasing a property for investment, you’d probably meet stricter
terms. Requirements may be more stringent. For instance, you could be
required to give a down payment of more than 30% and you may be required
to show one year worth of liquidity reserves.

Regardless of your reasons, if you feel like you can
fulfill the requirements of a financing loan, you can then proceed to
actually applying for a mortgage loan. Also, keeping yourself updated
with the financing terms flux may be a wise idea.

Understanding the Tax Ramifications of Real Estate Investment

The
first foreigner to have ever bought a real estate property in the
United States was Peter Minuit. This opened the doors to foreign real
estate investors. After a couple of centuries later, foreign real estate
investment has grown into huge proportions, accounting for
billion-of-dollar worth of industry.

The low risk attached to US
real estate market, the availability of countless properties, and the
steady market liquidity attract foreign investors in droves. The initial
snag, however, is the process of understanding the legal ramifications
of foreign real estate investment.

What you have to understand is
that foreign investment in the United States can take a lot of forms. A
foreigner has various options. He can acquire direct interest. He can
acquire an interest in the real estate through a partnership, a
corporation, or a limited liability company. The latter is the typical
structure used by foreign investors.

Limited partnership or
Limited Liability Company offers financial protection or indirect asset
protection, especially in cases of bankruptcy, law suits and taxes.
Foreign investors are generally taxed on the property as if they hold
the property in direct interest.

Ideally, you should secure the
services of a real estate accountant to help you out with the tax
ramifications, but it would help if you, at least, know the basics
before you actually talk to an accountant.

There are tax
consequences that you have to deal with when you buy a real estate in
the United States. You would need an Individual Taxpayer
Identification Number which you will use with all your tax transactions.
Your investment in real estates can be treated as a portfolio
investment and will be accounted for as an investment income which can
either be fixed or a periodic income. This is typically taxed at 30% on
gross revenues. This tax though does not apply though to all foreign
investors. Tax rates would vary depending on the tax personality the
foreign investor opted for. For instance, a corporation would be taxed
differently.

Other things that you should take note of are
availability and requirements of tax refunds and state tax laws on real
estate properties as they may differ from federal laws, among other
things.

By knowing all these things, you may save yourself from a
lot of hassles when you finally approach a real estate accountant. You’d
be in same wavelength when you finally get down to talking business. It
is, however, very important that you secure the services of an
accountant. You’d have an easier time dealing with the taxes
ramifications. You’d also have assistance ensuring that you comply with
all the accounting aspect of your investment. This is especially true if
you are purchasing a real property for investment purposes.

Do You Need to Secure the Service of a Real Estate Lawyer?

If
you are considering buying a property in the United States, you need
to secure the services of a real estate attorney – someone who could
help you with the legal issues concerning your purchase. It is tempting
to forego securing the service of a lawyer to save money, but this could
cost you a lot of money in the long run. Make sure that you have an
experienced and trustworthy lawyer to help you out. Make sure that you
have thoroughly checked out his credentials, profile, history of
successful cases handled by him, and other factors that would influence
your decision. You could check online and look for a lawyer working
within the state where you are considering purchasing a property.

Functions of a Real Estate Lawyer

There
is no actual distinctive function for a lawyer in a real estate case.
However, you would really need the assistance of a lawyer for various
tasks. A real estate lawyer would review the sales contract for you. He
would also check on the title and other documents relating to the
property. A lawyer would also review your mortgage contract and make the
necessary adjustments or corrections. You could also get him to review
with you the legal and tax issues concerning the purchase. A real estate
attorney could also make the necessary adjustments relating to various
expenses and costs involved in the purchase. He would assess your
eligibility for tax refunds and draft the documents and statements
relating to this.

Putting it simply, a real estate lawyer will be
your watchdog. He would guide you through the whole process of
purchasing a real estate in the United States in order to make sure that
you will be legally protected. You will have a capable and trustworthy
liaison to help you out with the contract. He will also face legal
disputes if any arise.

Tips on How to Invest in Real Estate Successfully

Now,
if you’ve fully bought into the idea of real estate investing in the
United States, you might just want to know how to go about investing in
real estate successfully. If you want to be successful in this venture,
the first thing that you have to avoid is overanalyzing. Of course, it
is a good idea to carefully think through your actions but it is a bad
idea to overanalyze your investment to nonexistence. You might lose a
great opportunity.

Before you purchase the property though, it
might be wise to check the property value. If it sits well with you and
you can reasonably afford the property, go ahead and make the purchase.

If
you are considering the property for a quick flip, make sure that the
property is in perfect condition and in good area. This is to ensure
that you could double or actually triple your return of investment. If
you can inspect the property yourself, do so. If not, a good and
trustworthy agent can help you with this task.

Another important
thing to remember when you’re buying real estate is good financing. You
should take your time to carefully consider all your financing options.
Foreign investors can email in their queries to various lending
institutions. It is a good idea to make sure that you’ve had their terms
and rates on paper because they tend to change these terms and charge
you with a lot of junk. Your real estate agent can help you with
reviewing the escrow charges.

The bottom line, however, is that it
is very important that you do your homework before you actually buy a
real property. Investing in real properties in the United States can be
profitable especially during these times. In fact, it may be the wisest
and most perfect investment you can make right now.

Author: admin