Top tips for planning to buy property in the USA
1. Are you eligible to buy property in the US?
The United States has always encouraged foreign investment in property. In truth, there are very few differences between the way a non-national is treated as a homebuyer – and indeed a homeowner – compared to US citizens. The main difference will usually centre on how much time you can stay in the country as a non-US national.
2. Why do you want to buy an American property?Are you looking for a holiday home? A property with investment potential? Somewhere you want to live in or retire to? If you’re after investment returns, you will need to research carefully which areas have the property markets that do well for investment – holiday rentals, student accommodation, and so on. Look at those areas and property types that have performed consistently and offered good returns in the past. Check out whether there are any events happening that could lead to increased demand for property, such as sporting events (the Olympics, football tournaments – English or American football, for that matter!), big festivals, or even specific developments like a new harbor or shopping centre complex.
It will come as no real surprise to learn that the vast majority of overseas property purchasers in the United States do tend to focus on homes in the tourist hotspots of Florida, California and, to a lesser extent, Texas and New York.
3. Can you stay in the US?
While the United States has long been a popular country for overseas property hunters, particularly British citizens, and those from the majority of countries, may only visit the US for business or pleasure without a visa for up to 90 days per year. Therefore, if you would like to spend more time making the most of your property then you must hold a B-2 visa. This visa entitles the holder to stay for up to six months (the maximum amount of time non-residents can stay in the States). Applicants for a B-2 visa must also prove they have sufficient funds to support themselves during their stay.
If you are looking to move to the States full-time, then this is a whole other ball game. America’s immigration laws are notoriously complex and time consuming, and anyone hoping for a permanent life across the Pond will need to overcome many barriers in order to do so.
You can find out more information regarding immigration options in our guide to getting set up in the US and check out our partner site Emigrate2 for the latest news on US immigration policy and how it could affect you.
4. Have you thought about where you want your property to be in the US?
Although a long journey, it’s important to visit any property or development in person so you can see for yourself what the neighbourhood is actually like; get a feel for the area and the property itself; check out how close it is to the local amenities, any bonuses like beaches or country adventures, and public transport links.
5. Do you have a set budget?
It’s important to have an idea in your mind of how much your property will cost – in total – and how you will be paying for it. A clear idea of budget helps you set specific goals and will mean you can make the most of any funds you have available to you to find the right property. Buying property in the United States could mean you will have to exchange your currency to US Dollars, which given the uncertainty surrounding the policies of US President Trump and global trade talks, is something you must watch carefully. Currency markets move all the time in response to these geopolitical influences. Get in touch with a currency specialist early on in your research, so you can stay on top of exchange rates and also plan how currency fluctuations will affect your guests. That way, you can include your international payments in your overall budget and stay in control of any of the less obvious costs. Find out about the different currency implications and costs involved in Money Matters.
6. Prepare for extra charges and hidden fees
While you should be aware of additional charges when purchasing the US, you may be pleasantly surprised that there aren’t too many hidden costs when . You should typically allow of the purchase price to cover all taxes and fees for buying US property – among the lowest you will find anywhere in the world.
However, once you own the property, you may be subject to extra costs, particularly if you own in a resort. It is also worth noting that if and when the time comes to sell your US property, then you are likely to experience some unexpected costs here. For example, the seller often pays the fee.