Can a Non-Citizen Buy a Home in the United States?

Image courtesy of created by renjith krishnan

Image courtesy of created by renjith krishnan

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.

If you are buying or selling a house and are looking to hire a successful real estate agent to help you through the process, take a look at AgentHarvest's list of top-ranking local Realtors in your area. We found these agents by examining their sales track records, awards, rankings, client testimonials and by conducting personal interviews.

9 thoughts on “Can a Non-Citizen Buy a Home in the United States?

  1. Well the AG in NYC sued the owner if my building for Interstate,Fraud on sale of shares.
    So no you cannot own property interstate.

    • Phyllis:
      There must be more to the case involving fraud. Simply owning property interstate can’t be the reason for the lawsuit. My guess, if it’s involving the sale of shares, it has more to do with corporate laws, disclosure, etc.

  2. I wish I could stay for 6 months at a time. But I am to poor to buy a 500k home. Mine is not even worth 200k . I want to be a wannabe American but cannot find a sugar daddy to marry . So now that I have been in the United States illegally for over 2 years, it can be Any moment I get my ass deported and maybe a good chance loose my sad looking condo.

    • Eduardo:
      I hear Canada is welcoming illegals and offering them benefits, food, health care, and free rent. Maybe you should consider becoming a Canadian. It looks like breaking Canadian immigration laws is far more rewarding than breaking US immigration laws currently.

  3. I purchased a home with my estranged husband in 2014. He lived here in the US at the home we purchased for 7 months. (Sept/ 2014 – April 2015). In April, 2015, he was not allowed back into the united states because he had not applied residency.
    He has not been in the united states esince April 2015, nor has he paid for any bills.
    Is he still considered a owner in the property.

    • This is a complex situation, and the status likely comes down to the taxes due. He is likely still considered an owner of the property, but should contact a US based property attorney for assistance ensuring it is not lost to a foreclosure process, if not already.

  4. Would you recommend any of the foreign national mortgage lenders featured on here?:

  5. I am a Non-US resident and owe a property/house in the US and like to lease it out. Do I have to pay tax on the income in the US (IRA) and how can I do that?

    • You need to talk with an accountant to find out what you need to do in your specific situation.

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