A Foreigner’s Guide to Buying a Home in the US

If you are eyeing to own a house in the United States, you are not alone. Even Warren Buffet said he would buy thousands of houses if he can, suggesting that buying a second home is actually a great investment.

Property sales in the US have reached $68.2 billion from March 2012 through March 2013, based on a National Association of Realtors report. Foreign ownership comprised 6% of the total sales, or $4.1 billion.

Before you rush into signing that deal, here are five things you need to consider when buying a home in America.


Know the purpose of buying.

Purchasing a house is a serious investment, which should require ample time of deliberation. Think how you are going to use the property, whether it is for a permanent residence, a temporary vacation home, a dwelling for schooling kids, a long-term or short-term investment.

Understand the US real estate market.

The different American states have different rules on property ownership. It helps to hire a lawyer who can walk you through the legalities of property ownership, especially if you are an immigrant. In addition, you have to go through the dynamics of foreign exchange and real estate valuation.

Hire local property experts.

If you are a foreigner, you will need the expertise of local professionals, (aside from lawyer and a real estate professionals, you also need to work with bankers and inspectors) to help you make this big decision.


Obtain financing for your American home.

Unless you are a millionaire or billionaire, you will need financing to purchase the house. After making 40% of downpayment, a foreigner can get financing for home purchases in the US from banks. However, applying for a mortgage requires that you establish your credit score, which means that you have to open bank and credit accounts in the US first.

Keep your finances in check.

Whether you have fully paid the house or not, you still have financial obligations attached to your ownership of a property in America. You will need to pay property taxes, insurance and other fees. Make sure that you are financial able to meet these obligations.