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How to buy a house in the United States without citizenship

Buying a home is part of the American Dream. But homeownership is also part of increasing wealth and can fan out across different countries, not just America. So, can anyone just travel to another country and buy a property? Can you make a purchase without having citizenship? Well, the answer is a surprising YES. While every country has its own laws, rules, and regulations, it is possible to widen your holdings across the globe. 

We have put together some basic tips on purchasing a home without citizenship as a guide to get you started on your journey. Don’t forget, once you have decided on your dream location, you should seek local legal counsel for specific requirements.

Citizenship

Some countries only allow limited foreign investments like Vietnam, the Philippines, etc., while some countries even offer citizenship if you invest in real estate in that particular country. In this case, anyone can get citizenship without knowing the local language or living in that country by simply investing in real estate. It gives advantages to the foreigner who is investing e.g. they can get a stable market, have some tax benefits and flexible financing options are also available. 

Buying with cash

The best and easiest way to buy a house is to make the payment in the form of cash. This will save time and you can avoid the involvement of government offices and other brokers. You don’t have to follow the rules which you are obliged to follow if you borrow from lenders or the government of that country. If you require financing (mortgage) you will have to fulfill the financing requirements which are different for non-residents and residents and they can also vary from one country to another.

Buying with a mortgage

If you want to save your cash and purchase a home via a mortgage, the rules are different. Lenders have the authority to make sure that buyer is going to live in that country for the next three years. For this purpose, a valid visa is enough proof. But the length of the visa should not be less than a year. 

Lenders have also the right to inquire about immigration status. They can check your employment history and citizenship status before approving your loan. Foreign nationals can have the privilege of getting a mortgage if their down-payment is higher, which is usually one-third of the purchase price. The mortgage rate and eligibility can be different from one lender to another.

Tax Rates

If a foreign national is buying a house for business and he is investing in real estate, he/she is obliged to pay the tax to that country. The tax is typically 30% of the purchase price if the house is not for business or trade. But if the house is connected to a business or trade, one must have to follow the rules to pay the taxes which are applied on income. A foreign national would pay taxes on income as are paid by citizenship holders of that state. Foreign nationals are usually obliged to 15% withholding tax on gross sales. Every state has tax treaties for non-residents which can vary from country to country and there are also some exceptions in which a resident has to pay a lower tax amount or not at all.

Required Documents

If you want to purchase a house or property as a foreign national, you must have a work permit or documents (visa) that you live legally in that country. This could be temporary but allows anyone to buy a house. The following list includes documents that are typically needed by a lender to provide a mortgage as a foreign national.

  • Employment authorization document
  • A form with current employment details and stamp
  • An official document issued by immigration services confirming residency in that country
  • Visa
  • Work permit

General Advice

As a foreign national, one doesn’t know the laws and regulations of that country completely. Here are some pieces of advice you need to take before buying any property as a foreign national without citizenship:

  • Before buying a house, learn all the rules of the country and city completely.
  • Hire a real estate agent, familiar with the location, who can guide you in the whole process.
  • Learn about tax payments and documentation needed before buying a house.
  • Seek guidance from experts (lawyers, accountants, etc.) whenever needed.
  • Learn the tax treaties of that country and tax benefits for foreign nationals.
  • Find the lenders who specifically lend mortgages to foreign nationals because they provide specific benefits to foreign investors.
  • As you are not a permanent resident of that country, research as a homebuyer about the quality of life and economic state of that country.
  • Learn about the climate changes and the perfect location for a house according to that climate.
  • Make research on property affordability and the best places to invest money while buying a house.

You can buy a house without citizenship in almost every country, however, each country has its own requirements that must be considered before making any decision. If you want to know more details about buying a house in the United States, contact me right now for a free consultation by calling (240) 393-6756 or emailing pedro.meneses@compass.com

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