What International Buyers Need to Know About U.S. Real Estate


As the U.S. economy continues to show signs of recovery and improvement, it’s no surprise that buyers from outside the country are increasingly eyeing U.S. real estate as a good investment. Real estate is a tangible asset that may increase in value over time and can provide a positive rate of return with less volatility than the stock market. There are potential tax advantages as well. Whether you are a professional relocating for work, an international investor, or a first generation immigrant living in the U.S., there are home purchase and financing options available to resident and non-resident buyers. Here’s some insight into the basics – from the home search to securing financing:

Work with a Real Estate Agent

A licensed real estate professional can help you navigate the process of finding, evaluating and purchasing a property. In the United States, the sales commission to the real estate agent is paid by the seller. So, as a buyer, you don’t pay anything to have an agent work on your behalf. All licensed agents have access to a multiple listing service where real estate listing information is shared.

Consult with a Mortgage Loan Advisor

While many transactions involving foreign real estate buyers are all cash, there are some options to obtain financing if needed. The U.S. home loan market offers various mortgage options, including specialized foreign national loan programs. An experienced lender will help guide you through the process of applying and qualifying for a loan, including documentation of credit you’ve established in the U.S. and/or another country.

Determine How You’ll Use the Property

By determining the primary use for your property and how long you plan to own it, you’ll be able to provide information to your real estate agent and loan advisor that will help match you to the right property and financing program. Will this be a vacation home? An investment property? Somewhere to live in while doing business in the United States? An eventual long-term residence? A place your child will live while attending school?

Consider Currency Exchange Rates

Learn how to convert currency from U.S. dollars into your native currency in order to properly establish a budget. You can view the latest currency exchange rates on the Federal Reserve System website. Inquire about banking systems and international wiring guidelines to avoid any surprises when it comes to finalizing your purchase.

If you are an international buyer who would like to learn more about financing a real estate purchase in the U.S., connect with a loan advisor in your desired area who can help you make informed decisions.