Can foreigners buy property in the U.S.? [2024]

Before we get into the details, let’s address the burning question: Can foreigners buy property in the U.S.?

Yes, almost anyone can buy property in the U.S., regardless of their nationality or immigration status. We hope this eases some of your worries!

Some more great news is in order. If you’re a foreign national, you can get a U.S. mortgage even without a U.S. credit history. In addition, there aren’t any extra taxes, stamp duties or special restrictions for foreign buyers of U.S. real estate.

However, it’s important to note that owning property in the U.S. doesn’t give you immigration status or the right to live here. If you’re on an H1B, L1, or F1 visa or other work visa and need to return to your home country, after purchasing a property while living in the U.S., it is no problem, you can still keep your U.S. property and even rent it. 

We hope this clears up any basic doubts that you may have about owning a property in the U.S. Let’s dig deeper into the types of properties a foreigner can buy in the U.S. and most importantly the buying process. 

Types of Properties Foreigners Can Buy

The U.S. property market is brimming with options; whether you are looking for residential property, a commercial investment or land – there are plenty of options. Let’s look at each of them. 

Residential Properties

This is the most popular choice amongst foreigners. According to the National Association of Realtors, foreigners purchased residential real estate worth $53.3 billion between April 2022 and March 2023. 

This includes single-family homes to, multifamily, and even apartment complexes.

Commercial Properties

Commercial properties are an excellent option for those interested in investment opportunities or starting a business in the U.S. In 2023, foreign investors made approximately $45 billion worth in the U.S. commercial real estate market, with a significant portion focused on major cities like New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago (Source: Real Capital Analytics)

Land and Other Types of Real Estate

Buying land gives you the freedom to build exactly what you want, whether it’s a home or a commercial property. While foreigners enjoy the same property rights as U.S. citizens, there are some restrictions when it comes to owning land:

  • Agricultural land: Some states like Iowa and Minnesota restrict foreign ownership of agricultural land to protect local farming industries.
  • Near military bases: Properties near military installations might have restrictions due to national security concerns. 
  • Protected areas: Certain environmentally sensitive areas, such as wetlands or coastal regions, may have additional restrictions to preserve the environment.

In 2023, the average price per acre of residential land in the U.S. was approximately $17,000, showing a steady increase from previous years (source: National Association of Realtors)

The Buying Process: Step-by-Step Guide

Step 1 –  Explore Mortgage Options

The most important step is determining the loan options available, such as LTV (loan-to-value), loan amount, payments, rates, terms and loan programs specific for your situation. For those new to the U.S. or are foreign investors without a U.S. credit history, obtaining a U.S. mortgage is more accessible than you might expect. While expats with a good U.S. credit history qualify for conventional mortgages, just as if you walked into your local bank, with America Mortgages, foreign-earned income is accepted, and not having a W2 is not an issue. 

As a company America Mortgages’ only focus is providing U.S. mortgage financing for non U.S. residents, both foreign nationals and U.S. Expats. This is all we do and no one does it better.

Keep in mind the U.S. is one of the only countries that has fixed-rate 30-year mortgage loans regardless of the borrower’s age. This is an amazing benefit when it comes to maximizing rental yield and the certainty of knowing how much your payment is regardless of the market conditions.

Once you are approved for a U.S. mortgage loan America Mortgages will issue you a pre-approval letter. This letter will be presented when you find a property and want to make an offer.

Step 2 – Find Preferred Location

Once you know the kind of property you are buying, whether residential, commercial, or land, the most important step is to find your preferred location. The top destinations in 2023 (source NAR) are Florida (23%), California (12%), Texas (12%), North Carolina (4%), and Arizona (4%). 

Once you know the city, narrow it down to the neighbourhood. If you are purchasing a home for yourself consider factors such as proximity to your workplace, schools, amenities, and personal lifestyle preferences. 

If the purchase is for investment, consider the strategic location. Conduct thorough market research to identify areas with growth potential. 

This is a crucial step. Take your time to do this research before moving on to the next one. If you need assistance finding a realtor in your desired location, America Mortgages has vetted realtors through our AM Concierge Services. This free service helps America Mortgages’ clients find the best mortgage options and connects them with top realtors to find and secure the ideal property. 

Step 3 – Search for Suitable Properties

Now that you have the preferred location, a knowledgeable real estate agent and a dedicated mortgage professional, the next step is to look for the right property. The experts at America Mortgages will closely collaborate with you to find the most suitable property for you.

If you are in the U.S., you can go for a tour; for others there’s always an option to do a virtual tour. We provide you with all the necessary information to take this important decision with utmost ease.  

Step 4 – Make an Offer and Sign the Purchase Contract

Once you lock in the property, your realtor will make an offer to the seller. The seller can accept, refuse or counter the offer. It is important to submit your pre-approval letter issued by America Mortgages and the offer to show both the seller and the seller’s agent that you are a serious and approved buyer.

After your offer is accepted, the agents will create a purchase contract. The legal document will contain the agreed price, terms of payment, closing date and contingencies- all of which will be negotiated well on your behalf.  If accepted, you will have to make an earnest deposit of 1% to 3% to secure the property. 

Step 5  – Obtain a Title Report

This is one of the most essential steps in the purchase of a property in the U.S. A title report ensures that you are making a secure investment. It is essentially a shield against any complications that may arise in the future. 

The team at America Mortgages will help you complete the title report. 

Step 6 – Arrange an Inspection and Finalize Purchase

Having vetted the legalities, there’s one last step before you get your hands on the property. We urge our clients to do home inspections to weed out any unforeseen complications such as electrical issues or structural malfunctions. 

Should you find any issues with the property there’s always room for re-negotiation on the final purchase price. Once you’ve determined that everything is up to your satisfaction, you sign the deed or the transfer of property ownership. 

Congratulations! With that, you are a proud property owner in the U.S. 

Tax Implications for foreigners buying property in the U.S.

What makes the U.S. a fantastic place to invest in real estate is that foreigners share the same tax benefits as U.S. citizens. All foreigners have the same deductions to mitigate any income tax earned on the property and a U.S. citizen would have. 

Property Tax: All property owners in the U.S., including foreign nationals, are subject to paying the property tax, which is the primary type of tax imposed on homeowners. The rates are the same as in the case of a U.S. national.

Investment Property

Income Tax: Any income from the property including rental income is subjected to the same rate of tax as that for citizens of the U.S. 

Capital Gains Tax: No taxes are charged on the appreciation of the property value before selling the property. Special taxes apply when selling the property. There are various ways to mitigate, reduce or even potentially eliminate tax with carry-over loss, 1031 exchange and other creative but legal ways to structure your tax filing. 

America Mortgages has expert partners to assist our clients with maximizing their investment with proper tax structuring.  

Ready to purchase a property in the U.S.? 

America Mortgages can help you obtain a U.S. mortgage. If you’re interested in learning more, get in touch with us at [email protected] or visit our website at www.americamortgages.com. Additionally, if you’d like to schedule a commitment-free meeting with one of our U.S. loan officers to explore your U.S. mortgage options further, you can do so using our 24/7 calendar link.

Schedule a call with our U.S. Mortgage Specialist.