Can Foreign Nationals Buy Real Estate in the United States?

This is a question we often hear, and the simple answer is yes! The question stems from the fact that in many countries the purchase of real property is strictly controlled by the government. However, in the United States there are no restrictions as to who may purchase real property.

A related question that has caused some confusion is whether the purchase of real property will in any way confer an immigration benefit. Unfortunately, the answer here is no. There is no immigration advantage to owning or purchasing United States real property. If you see contrary information online, be very wary as this is not only incorrect, but it may signal an attempt to fraudulently take your investment capital.

As a practical matter, most purchases of real property by foreign nationals will be done on a cash basis. However, speak to your Realtor about this, since there are reports that some banks may offer some level of financing with a down payment in the range of 40% to 50%.  If a foreign national does seek financing, they should also be prepared to pay an interest rate higher than the market rate.

Taxes are an important issue when making an investment in United States real property. You will be required to pay annual property tax based on the value of the property. Every state’s system of determining the tax rate is different, and this is something for you and your Realtor to discuss. If you sell your United States real property and you do not have a Social Security number, you will want to obtain an individual taxpayer identification number (ITIN) to avoid a 10% withholding tax. This is an issue for you and your tax advisor to discuss in detail. 

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