Population 332.4 million
Area 9,834,000 km sq
Timezone GMT -5 (EST) GMT -8 (PST)
Language English
Foreign nationals spent $74bn on existing home sales in the year to March 2021. This was the result of 154,000 unit sales, representing 3% of sales overall. Of these, 60% were recent immigrants or visa holders in the USA and 40% non resident foreigners. Source National Association of Realtors (NAR) figures.
Brits were the fifth most active group of buyers, spending a total of $2.7bn and buying mainly in Florida (44%), Viriginia (21%), New Jersey (12%), Texas (7%) and Georgia (6%). Most were looking or a detached single family home (61%) or townhouse (24%), only 38% for primary residence.

Anyone can buy property in the USA, and apply for a loan, but it can be more complicated for non-citizens requiring finance. It can be very straightforward if cash, taking up to 30 days. With a mortgage, typical time from offer to closing takes up to 60 days.
The USA has some of the lowest buying costs in the world. Aside from the down payment, which can vary depending on mortgage / negotiation from as low as 3% to 20%+ (like a deposit here in the UK, but it is paid up front), the ‘Closing costs’ amount to 2-5% of price agreed, typically.

Closing costs are all fees associated with the mortgage, typically; Application fee, home inspection fee, credit check fee, title insurance, title search fee (not necessary if new build) and transfer tax (varies by location).
A lender may require guarantee or evidence of reserves (typically two months mortgage payment).

In addition to any mortgage/ loan repayments, ongoing costs to consider include; Property Taxes, HOA fees (if in HOA area), Homeowner & Mortgage insurance, Utilities, Maintenance, repairs etc. The agent will be able to give details on costs and help you throughout the process.

The United States real estate system is different to the UK. Agents are qualified and licensed and can legally represent either buyer or seller (sometimes both). One agent can help you find in an area, looking at all property available on the market. This is usually without a fee, as they earn of share of the commission on the sale from the seller’s agent.
A home inspector, attorney and Title Closer (like a public notary) will be required together with tax advisor and financial specialist. Find out early if a local bank account and tax number are needed, and if you wish to pay from an overseas bank account, if that will be accepted.

Non-resident Foreigners investing in USA real estate, a more volatile market historically than some, may wish to take particular notice of the ongoing costs after purchase, in particular property tax. This is the main source of revenue for state and local governments and it varies, by state and location. Most expensive in New Jersey and least in Hawaii, according to 2019 Census.
Some cities may have strict rules about rental licenses and insurance is highly recommended. Tax will need to be submitted to IRS for income generated in the USA for non-residents.

The US system, is complex so having an in State tax specialist may be necessary, and a legal adviser non least for most appropriate buying status. Buying property as an individual or an LLC have different implications, for example. Withholding tax, Capital Gains Tax, Estate and Gift taxes to consider, amongst others.
Non-resident foreigners may incur a 30% withholding tax when non US citizens sell their home, and a withholding tax that may be liable on rental income. There are allowances.

Our affiliate partners are well placed to help buyers, having the oldest and most established real estate franchise system in North America. Please do get in touch with us and we can connect you.
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