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Housing & Accommodation

Buying Property in the USA

While buying property in the USA is rather common, it also comes with a lot more red tape than renting. In addition, the language may make it even harder for expats to deal with the paperwork. We give you some pointers on how to navigate the process of purchasing your dream home.

Buying property in the USA is way more common than renting. This is also why many real estate agents focus on houses and apartments which are for sale and clients who are interested in buying as opposed to renting. If you are moving to the US for a longer period of time or even plan to settle down there for good, buying a home makes a lot of sense. Still, the entire process of buying a house or an apartment is incredibly complex and there is a lot you have to keep in mind when buying property in the USA.

The Basics: What You Need to Make a Purchase

Buying property in the USA is not a problem for foreigners. You do not need a green card, a particular type of visa, or even US citizenship to be eligible to do so. However, before you can purchase your dream home in the United States, you need to secure an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number. This number is issued to foreigners who are not eligible to obtain a Social Security Number. Turn to the Internal Revenue Service to apply for this number.

Unless you have a small fortune in your back pocket to pay for your new home, you need a mortgage to finance your purchase. Luckily, this is very common when buying property in the USA and there are many affordable options available to prospective homeowners. To qualify for a mortgage, you need to earn a good credit score first. Open a US bank and credit card account and make sure to report all of your income on your tax returns. Tax returns are often used by lenders to decide how much you can afford to buy. When you are ready to apply for a mortgage, choose a financial institution which has some experience when it comes to dealing with foreign buyers. That way, they will know how to judge your credit history. Make sure you get a good faith estimate which details all costs of getting a mortgage, including monthly and one-off payments.

Work with a Real Estate Agent

Finally, to find the right kind of property, the one that is your dream and doesn’t come with a set of unpleasant surprises, you should work with a realtor you can trust. So called Certified International Property Specialists (CIPS) usually have undergone a lot of training and have experience in dealing with foreign buyers. They explain to you how buying property in the USA works and assist you when it comes to the paperwork, closing costs, and other details.

Furthermore, real estate agents know your new home town very well. They know which areas are perfect for young, single people, and which would make a great new home for families, as well as which neighborhoods you should avoid when buying property in the USA. At the end of the day, they can find exactly the type of property that you might be looking for and help you negotiate a good price for your new home-to-be. When it comes to dealing with the paperwork at a later point, they might be able to refer you to an attorney as well.

Finding Your Dream Home

Even though a reliable and professional real estate agent might save you a lot of time and nerves, you will have to be the one to decide which neighborhoods you prefer and what type of real estate you are looking for. Your realtor can, of course, give you some pointers about buying property in the USA. But at the end of the day, it is up to you to decide whether you want to live in an apartment, single family home, or mansion.

So try to gather information on the local real estate market before buying property in the USA. This should also include average housing costs, allowing you to come up with a budget for your purchase (do not forget to account for closing fees and other costs). If you do this, your realtor will have a much easier time finding the right type of property for you.


We do our best to keep this article up to date. However, we cannot guarantee that the information provided is always current or complete. 



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