What documentation will be needed for a foreigner to buy a house in USA with or without mortgage?

Asked by Once Usa, USA, Mobile, AL Thu Apr 1, 2010

I am trying to buy a house in USA together with my US friends. Since I don't work or live in US anymore (I used to work in US, but I don't have any US visa now), can my name be put into house title? During bid for a house, what kind of documentation shall I need? thanks.

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Jan, Home Buyer, Kansas
Sat Jan 8, 2011

I am pretty sure that your name can be on the title, even if you are a foreigner. What would more advisable for you is to create American based LLC, and buy the property on it. It's great for liability protection and for tax purposes.
I have read a blog of one foreign buyer who was buying house in USA, and he shared his experiences there:

Hope it helps.
1 vote
Dagmar Mouri…, , Chandler, AZ
Thu Sep 16, 2010
Most importantly, when non-citizen property owners decide to sell their US property, certain tax restrictions may apply. FIRPTA, the Foreign Investment in Real Property Tax Act, was enacted in 1980 and provides that if the Seller of real property is a foreign person, the Buyer must withhold a tax equal to 10% of the gross purchase price, unless an exemption applies. A foreign person is a nonresident alien individual; a foreign corporation not treated as a domestic corporation; or a foreign partnership, trust or estate. A resident alien is not considered a foreign person under FIRPTA.

There are many exemptions to this rule for example a transaction involving the transfer of a property acquired for use as the buyer's residence and the amount realized (purchase price) does not exceed $300,000. Find more information about FIRPTA on the IRS website http://www.irs.gov/businesses/small/international/article/0,…

The tax situation is something you may want to discuss with a tax professional.
1 vote
Anthony Rueda…, , 95624
Thu Sep 16, 2010
It's just as easy for a foreigner to purchase property as a US citizen (The challenge will be if you want US financing).

Documentation will need:

If you're paying cash: You need documentation proving who you are. (Example: passport)

If you need a loan: This can be tricky, because in addition to proving who you are, you'll need to prove income and credit, just like any US citizen. The problem is that US banks usually have difficulty accepting foreign credit bureaus, proving income, taxes, time on the job, etc. Three other possible options. 1st, can your friends qualify without you, you could be added to the ownership after the home is purchased. 2nd, many times it's easier to get financing in your current country. 3rd, a hard money loan, interest rates are higher and you'll need 40%-50% down, but no credit or income documentation is necessary.

Don't forget, just like anybody else you'll have to go through the standard escrow process.

Good luck.
1 vote
Heather Paul, Agent, Santa Monica, CA
Sat Nov 19, 2011
Hello Once USA, the first step I would recommend would be to hire a local Realtor in the area you are thinking of buying a property that specializes in working with International home buyers or investors. Most of these transactions are cash purchases.

Check out this blog post on Trulia about foreigners buying property in the USA, it should help you greatly:

Have a great day,
Heather Paul, Realtor
Coldwell Banker
0 votes
Phoenixarizo…, , Austell, GA
Wed Oct 12, 2011
0 votes
gabriel palo…, Agent, Pompano Beach, FL
Sun Aug 7, 2011
Cash and a drivers license or a current passport with photo ID. We let customs do the cavity search and the rest is a simple process. IRS will take their pound of flesh when you sell for profit . There are no surprises when you consult an immigration attorney they are easy to find normally chasing an ambulance.
0 votes
James Tan, Agent, elk grove, CA
Sat Aug 6, 2011
A foreigner can buy a property in the US. Generally, you may need at least a tourist visa B1/B2. However, if you are paying cash, you can do it remotely. It is just a matter of signing and faxing the documents. Your name can be on title. If you wish to bid at an auction site, the documentation depends from site to site. Typically, you can just enter your credit card for the initial deposit. You will have to send "proof of funds" within 1 day after winning the bid. Closing is typically within 30 days after winning the bid. http://www.BuyHomeInUS.com contains some information on buying a home in US for foreigners. If you are interested in buying in Northern California, you may contact http://www.BethanyREInvestments, they specialize in helping foreigners buy properties in Northern California.
Web Reference:  http://www.BuyHomeInUS.com
0 votes
Ray Catulli, Agent, Pueblo, CO
Fri Sep 24, 2010
Proof of Citizenship, Proof of Funds or Financial capabilities if you are obtaining a loan
0 votes
Esfand Azad -…, , Tarzana, CA
Thu Sep 23, 2010
Dear Home Buyer,
1-Please answer the following question and I can help you :
1-How long did you work in U.S.A?months and dates?
2-Where did you work ,in what state?
3-What kind of work was it ,and how did you get paid?pay-stubs?w-2's
4-Did you have a Social Security Number while working in US?
5-Did the employer use your social security number to pay you?
6-Where do you live and work,presently?
7-Are you buying the house wih cash?or you all need a loan?
Do you want to buy the house with how many individuals?and you want to know if your name can be put on title,yes?
If you have a soc.sec number it is easier ,than if you do not,
Let me know how you stand.
0 votes
Irynadz, , San Diego County, CA
Thu Sep 23, 2010
If you do not need a loan there is no problem The only thing is the buyer pays up to 7 % extra for the tax purposes, so you might have to pay extra. Government just makes sure that all taxes and are paid up-front. If there is a loan- it is much harder, since you have to be a resident, have a credit score, income (job in US). You must have visa to enter US and look at the properties. So consult immigration authority first. During the bid you need a sing from with a price you are willing to pay, a deposit of (usually 10%) of the purchase price. In addition there is closing cost associated with buying a home. I can go into more detail so, when you are ready, e-mail me and I can send you all requirements you want to know about before investing into the property.- Iryna
0 votes
gabriel palo…, Agent, Pompano Beach, FL
Thu Sep 23, 2010
To avoid any oversights on issues so important talking with an immigration attorney is highly recommended in the clarification in advance regarding purchase and sale. Tax implications regarding sales to foreigners is an issue that needs to be addressed and understood and not come later as a nasty surprise.
0 votes
Gary Marks, Agent, Reno, NV
Mon Sep 20, 2010
First, contact a Realtor in the area you're interested in buying a home.

If you're paying in cash, you'll need identification. If you're taking out a loan, the best advice is to contact a mortgage lender in the area you're looking to purchase a home. When a non US citizen decides to sell their US property, certain tax restrictions may apply. FIRPTA, the Foreign Investment in Real Property Tax Act, was enacted in 1980 and provides that if the Seller of real property is a foreign person, the Buyer must withhold a tax equal to 10% of the gross purchase price, unless an exemption applies. A foreign person is a nonresident alien individual; a foreign corporation not treated as a domestic corporation; or a foreign partnership, trust or estate. A resident alien is not considered a foreign person under FIRPTA.

Go to the IRS website http://www.irs.gov/businesses/small/international/article where you can find more info on FIRPTA.

A good Realtor will be a source for information.
0 votes
Sean Hess, Agent, Saint Augustine, FL
Mon Sep 20, 2010
You won't need any documentation as such to purchase, beyond identification such as a passport. But if you plan to rent it right away you will need what's called an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number...which you will also need when you go to sell, so best to get going on it now because it can take a few months to get.

Secondly, if you actually plan to use the properties you may want to start investigating a visa. Depending on where you are from, you may be able to stay 90 days at a time without a visa, but over that you will need a visa. And if you end up using the property more than 182 days in a three-year rolling period, you may be obligated to pay US taxes.
0 votes
Dan Gonen, Agent, Scottsdale, AZ
Mon Sep 20, 2010
No issues when you buy with cash. You will have to follow Foreign Investment in Real Property Tax Act (FIRPTA) when you sell. If you are going to get a mortgage you should get pre-approved by a bank who specializes in lending to foreign borrowers. You will need to provide some documentation from your home country. If you have a US social security and some credit...this might help you get better terms on your loan.

Yes, if you buy a house your name will be on the title. When you make an offer (bid) you will need to use a real estate contract used in the state where the house is located. You will also need to prove the seller you are able to buy his/her house. If you pay cash you will need a proof of funds and if you are getting a loan you will need a letter from the lender showing you are pre-qualified for the mortgage and where is your down payment is coming from.

And...Don’t forget to check beautiful Scottsdale Arizona for beautiful luxury properties at a huge discount.
Web Reference:  http://www.FineLocations.com
0 votes
Fern Hamberg…, Agent, New York, NY
Sun Sep 19, 2010
I help foreign buyers all the time in Manhattan.
And yes, your name can definitly be on the Deed!
Where are you buying and what is your budget?
ANd dio you have to buy with a US buyer? because you can definitly do it on your own if you have thecash.
Fern Hamberger
Citi-Habitats Relocation
0 votes
Agnes Tabor, Agent, Naples, FL
Sat Sep 18, 2010
Hello Once USA, You have many questions and many good answers have been furnished. But which ever state you are working in your first focus shoud be to find an attorney who works with foreign buyers, a REALTOR should have a referral list to help with your search. Welcome back to the USA.
Web Reference:  http://agnestabor.com
0 votes
Marc Oppenhu…, Agent, Memphis, TN
Sat Sep 18, 2010
Dear Once Usa
Yes, you can be put on title along with your friends that are purchasing with you. For your own protection, you would want to provide identification etc. The same steps would be applied if you are making a bid on a property. The agent that is assisting you should request identification etc to make sure it is titled correctly and that you are correctly registered and identified with the property. Working with a competent and experienced agent is always a must in your situation. This does not avoid all the issues associated with a purchase but definitely helps with dealing with them. Send me a note if you would like more information or assistance in the process. I have 20 years of experience in the Real estate market and have experience in the mortgage origination process and have worked with foreign investors for several years.
Best regards
Marc Oppenhuizen
Web Reference:  http://www.mropenhouse.com
0 votes
Jessica Hood…, Agent, Gambrills, MD
Sat Sep 18, 2010

That is a question you should ask of your loan officer and title company. They will be able to let you know up front exactly what is needed.
0 votes
jo, , Hollywood Hills, Los Angeles, CA
Fri Sep 17, 2010
Buying the home will be easy...The tricky part will be financing. You need to talk to a loan officer at a bank in the state you want to buy a home.

Hope this helps and good luck :)
0 votes
David B. Lev…, , Longboat Key, FL
Fri Sep 17, 2010
sorry 1 more thing, yes you can be put on title just need a valid passport or ID to give to title people, being on mortgage a different story
David Leventhal
0 votes
David B. Lev…, , Longboat Key, FL
Fri Sep 17, 2010
I would talk to a local lender 1st and foremost for each state is different, in some states I can not a non US citizen a loan at all right now, but in Florida you need income statements, tax returns, and you need to put about 35-40% down and interest rate is higher, Some of my non US citizen clients actually are borrowing in there home land at a lower rate and then using those funds to buy here in the US
sorry to be alittle vague on this but again each market is different, for example trying to get a UK person a loan in colorado and no way not how can I find a lender who will lend to a UK person in this state
if you need help let me know my company has offices in all 50 statea and can help you anywhere
David Leventhal
0 votes
Joe Mendez, Agent,
Thu Sep 16, 2010
Great Question. I am an American who was and want to do what you want to do but I want to purchase in Spain. So I have done a bit of research regarding foreigners and what they need. As mentioned before, if you are a cash buyer, it is not an issue anywhere in the USA. I just helped someone from Mexico City and it was an easy process for her since she was dealing with cash. She just closed on a condo within 30 days in Long Beach, CA. She had also bought property in Miami, Florida. One of the things you might do is put money in advance into a USA bank. On the lending side, if you wanted to purchase a property with a loan, that might be slightly more difficult.

I also have a client I am working with now who is from Australia and she also did the same thing. She brought money from Australia and put it in a USA bank. She also is working with Chase to secure some financing but it did take her several months to secure some financing.

There are plenty of foreigners coming from China and buying. So definitely people can buy here.

I think the documentation you need is your passport. You also mentioned that you are buying with some USA friends. So you may want to put a separate contract down with your friends and legally done with a lawyer as to your part in that contract.

Yo hablo espanoly . Eu estou aqui para ajudar y serir.
Web Reference:  http://joeLuisMendez.com
0 votes
Marc Oppenhu…, Agent, Memphis, TN
Thu Sep 16, 2010
Yes, it definitely is possible. It does help to have an experienced broker working with you since there may be additional circumstances that may be addressed. I have had several buyers that came from Italy, Britain, and Spain and am currently working with someone Korea. Feel free to contact my office and ask for me if you would like some direction
Best regards,
Web Reference:  http://www.mropenhouse.com
0 votes
nicaury mill…, Agent, UNION, NJ
Thu Sep 16, 2010
If your friends are obtaining financing and they have tax return the last 2 years, as long as the income is there they will not have a problem-however if you want to be added to the deed-that can be done-contact an attorney they will take care that aspect for you.
Web Reference:  http://nicaury.com
0 votes
Barry Lynn M…, , Trussville, AL
Tue Sep 14, 2010
In the US cash is king

You can buy a home just need proof of who you are for title purposes you will have to answer some questions because of the Patriot act but if your not upto something fishy no special requirements.

Mortgage's are rather easy too
0 votes
Zeke Zapiola, Both Buyer And Seller, Fayetteville, NC
Thu Apr 1, 2010
Yes, you can. You just need your id or your passport if you are a foraigner. And you also can buy a house alone. I did.
0 votes
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