Real estate investing is a great way to build as asset base and even earn an income. In general, most real estate investors buy where they are familiar, in their own metropolitan area. Some astute investors extend that to other states. However, can foreign nationals buy a home in the United States?
You Can Buy and Own Property
The short answer to the question is yes, a foreign citizen can buy and own property in the United States. There are no laws in the United States forbidding a foreign national from buying and owning property in the country.
Foreign citizens regularly buy vacation homes in the US, and wealthy foreigners own investment properties ranging from single-family homes to multi-family apartment buildings to retail shopping centers to indoor shopping malls.
You May Have a Hard Time Getting a Loan
One challenge with buying a property in the United States as a foreign citizen is finding a mortgage loan. If you can purchase the property in all cash, you will have no problem buying a property. However, if you are looking to finance the property with a US based financial institution, you will run into more trouble.
When a US resident purchases a property with a mortgage, the financial institution will look at the borrower’s US credit report when making their decision. A non-citizen, or someone without a legal resident status in the United States, will not have a credit report, so the bank will have to do a different type of risk analysis for the loan approval.
In general, foreigners pay a higher interest rate than legal residents and may have a harder time finding a bank that will make loans to foreign citizens. However, that does not mean that you can’t find a lender. Just expect it to take more time, effort, and cost than typical mortgage loans.
Owning Property Does Not Guarantee Citizenship or a Visa
Some foreign citizens want to seek a fast track to US Citizenship, and want to know if buying a home in the United States will help with that.
According to United States immigration policy, owning property in the United States does not give one a right to live in the United States or become a citizen differently from someone who does not own property. Becoming a legal resident can be a difficult process.
If you want to get a Green Card, a permanent resident visa, the most common methods for approval are through a family member who is a United States citizen, through an employer in the United States, or through gaining refugee status.
Before buying a vacation home in the United States, familiarize yourself with United States visa and immigration policies to know how much time you can spend there.
A Good Agent Helps
If you are a foreigner buying a home in the United States, you will want the assistance of a knowledgeable and trustworthy agent to help you make a smart decision. Be sure to study the market and interview prospective agents to find someone to work with.