Buying a House in the USA as a Foreigner

Buying a House in the USA as a Foreigner

Are you thinking of buying a house in the USA as a foreigner?

If a move to the USA is something you might are considering or are in the midst of planning, then you are in the right place!

As part of the process, you might be wondering if buying a house in the USA as a foreigner is a possibility.

The number of British ex-pats in the USA fluctuates due to immigration policies, economic conditions, and other factors.

However, the USA has consistently been a popular destination for British citizens seeking new opportunities.

Although many aspects of American life might seem familiar, a permanent relocation involves much more than a short-term visit or even a lengthy stay.

Inevitably, if it is the long term you are planning for, it makes sense to invest and buy a home.

You might assume that buying a house in the USA as a foreigner is at best complicated, but that’s not the case

Ex-pats from the UK can buy property in the USA without any restrictions on their citizenship or residency status and it is a relatively straightforward task.

In this guide to buying a house in the USA as a foreigner, we will be exploring all of the considerations you need to keep in mind.

Plus, we have some helpful tips and advice and a little information about the most sought-after locations for foreigners.

As long as you know that proper planning and expert advice are essential to ensure a successful property purchase, there is no reason why your USA property purchase can’t be a resounding success.

Why Do UK Ex-pats Move to the USA?

USA and UK Flag

There are plenty of reasons people are looking to relocate to the USA from the UK. Image credit: Envato Elements

At least 20,000 British citizens make the journey to permanent residency in America every year.

For Brits, the country has a lot going for it, not least that there is no language barrier.

A land of opportunities, the USA has a strong culture of entrepreneurship, with many resources available for starting and growing businesses.

While the country’s focus on innovation and technology attracts those seeking to work with cutting-edge developments.

Additionally, the earning potential and benefits far outrank those of other countries.

Throw into the mix a well-developed health system, a vast range of environments, from bustling cities to tranquil national parks and a rich tapestry of traditions, languages, and cuisines, living in the USA is a life-changing experience.

Visa Applications

USA Visa

Understanding your visa options will make moving to the USA much easier. Image credit: Envato Elements

Well before you can even think about relocating and buying a home in the United States, you must be able to spend long periods of time there enjoying it.

To do this you need to get a visa.

For UK residents, the choice of visa depends on several personal factors; their purpose for emigrating, their skills or qualifications, and family connections are the most popular.

Understanding the visa options and consulting with immigration experts can help ensure a smooth transition to life in the USA.

Three main visas to consider are employment-based visas, family-based visas, and study visas.

There are also several sub-categories under these three main headings.

If you’re planning to make your move from the UK to the USA permanent, obtaining a Green Card should be a top priority.

It grants you permanent residency in the United States.

There is a myriad of information online about applying for an American visa, one of the best places to start is the US Embassy based in the UK.

The Embassy website is packed with information and guides to each category and how to apply.

How is the USA Housing Market Performing?

USA Housing Market

Make sure to keep your finger on the pulse of the US housing market. Image credit: Unsplash

Understanding how well the housing market is performing is going to be useful when you are delving into the US real estate market.

Just bear in mind, there will be differences from state to state as well as neighbourhood to neighbourhood just as it is in the UK.

America has suffered its fair share of economic ups and downs over the past few years.

Again, same as the UK, the pandemic has left its mark. High interest rates, rising property values and fiscal instability have all affected the local real estate markets.

Although overall, housing prices have continued to rise, in 2024, it has been at a slower pace compared to previous years.

Some predictions for 2024 and beyond are that mortgage rates are starting to slow too, a good sign for property buyers.

The property market in the USA in 2024 presents both opportunities and challenges.

It is a mixed bag and as always with the property market in the USA.  Even the experts find it very difficult to predict what is going to happen next.

Keeping an eye on economic indicators, regional trends, and government policies can help you navigate the market effectively.

The Homebuying Institute has plenty more information regarding the US housing market.

How to Buy a Home in the USA

Houses in San Francisco

Houses in San Francisco. Image credit: Pixabay

According to the US National Association of Realtors, foreign buyers of residential homes have invested as much as 58 billion dollars in real estate between April 2022 and March 2023!

Not only can UK citizens buy property in the States, but they can also obtain a mortgage home loan to finance the purchase, depending on certain criteria.

Here is an easy-to-follow guide to the property-buying process:

Choose a Lender

For those who want to put a mortgage in place, shop around for a mortgage lender that offers competitive rates and terms.

Pre-Approval Process

Submit financial documents (pay stubs, tax returns, bank statements) to get pre-approved for a mortgage. This helps you understand how much you can borrow and shows sellers you’re a serious buyer.

Set your budget

Once you have a hold on what you have to spend, you can start your search for your ideal home. Don’t forget, the exchange rate will give you an advantage here. The rate is currently 1.25 dollars per UK pound (May 2024). On large transfers, this is potentially a significant saving!

Where to Live

You need to spend time deciding where in the country you want to settle. The USA has 50 states and is approximately the size of Europe; there is a huge choice of fantastic places to live.

Narrow your search area. Thorough research is needed here. (Later in our article we will discuss some of the top ex-pat favoured locations).

Use an Estate Agent

Appoint an agent who has experience in international and foreign national transactions. Ensure they are members of a professional accreditation such as CIPS (Certified International Property Specialist).

A good estate agent will have the knowledge and experience to assist you with your property search.

They will understand local markets and hopefully have plenty of great advice about the particular area you are conducting your search in.

Start the Search

During your house hunt, it is important to bear in mind practical factors such as schools, amenities, and health facilities you might need to have nearby.

Are you looking to live by the coast, buy a home in a rural location perhaps with some land or do you need to be closer to a city for work purposes?

Do a checklist of what you are expecting from your new location. It will help you narrow down your search.

Make an Offer

Just as in the UK, when you have found a suitable property, you make an offer. There is nothing wrong with going in under the asking price. Your real estate agent can help you here. They will know what a fair offer is for the area.

Submit the Offer

Your agent will submit a written offer, which may include contingencies (like inspection and appraisal) and earnest money (a deposit to show good faith).

Property Searches/Title Search

Your lender will order an appraisal to ensure the property’s value supports the loan amount. The title search company will run checks to ensure there are no legal claims or liens on the property.

Sign the Contract

When all parties are happy about the price offered, property condition and any searches or inspections have been completed, the next stage is to sign contracts.

Closing the Deal

Almost there! A final walkthrough will ensure the property has been left in the agreed-upon condition.

Close the sale by signing the legal documents, transfer funds for the down payment and closing costs, and receive the keys to your new home.

Tax Implications

It is important to note that all house sales come with tax implications. Therefore, you must discuss this with your real estate agent. They will be aware of property taxes, capital gains taxes, and other federal and state taxes that could apply. Remember that there are differences between states.

All that remains is for you to move into your new home and enjoy!

Popular US Ex-pat Locations

New York, USA

New York is one of the most popular cities with British ex-pats. Image credit: Pexels

The USA offers such a wildly diverse number of locations in which to live, it is almost impossible to narrow it down to just a few.

If you have family or friends already living in the States you will likely settle close to them, at least at first.

Perhaps you enjoy being close to a city.

City life typically offers better access to airports, thriving expatriate communities, and accessible job markets, education systems, and healthcare services.

Whatever your preferences maybe it will take time (if you haven’t already selected a location), to find your perfect home-from-home location.

Here’s a list of cities and towns known for their unique appeal across different aspects:

New York City

Arguably the most well-known city in the world. Expensive, but it offers plenty of job opportunities in finance, media, technology, and the arts. Plus, the nightlife just doesn’t stop. Busy, crazy and for many it is the place to be.

Austin, TX

Known for its lower cost of living compared to other large cities, with a vibrant music scene and tech industry. Like so many American locations, its residents have access to plenty of things to do outside.

Denver, CO

It provides both easy access to mountains and a thriving job market. The combination of urban amenities and breathtaking countryside is a winner. Denver boasts 300 hours of sunshine annually. A hot spot for those who enjoy adventures amid the great outdoors.

Sarasota, FL

Most people know that Florida lures newcomers to its beautiful relaxed coastal lifestyle. Florida also supports a large ex-pat community, not just Brits but all nationalities. Another big draw to Florida is of course the fact that the state does not collect any income taxes. This is a key factor influencing the high standard of living enjoyed by expats.

Scottsdale, AZ

A particularly popular retirement destination with several excellent golf courses and year-round warm weather. As well as a thriving economy notably within the tech industry. Scottsdale is also full of diverse neighbourhoods. From upmarket to more affordable options, catering to various preferences and budgets.

Madison, WI

One of the best places to live in Wisconsin. Known for its excellent education system and family-friendly environment. There is a myriad of eateries, open public spaces, and attractions to visit. The cost of living is affordable too. However, it does experience very cold winters.

Boston, MA

Known as the walking city due to it being so compact, you will find plenty of things close to hand. Boston has a rich history and is home to many prestigious universities and colleges. The city’s European-style architecture and atmosphere may feel familiar to British expats.

Washington, DC

The USA capital is a veritable hub for cross-cultural connections. There is much to discover and enjoy for new residents of this diverse city. Ex-pats need to be aware that housing here is among the most expensive in the country. That said, the lifestyle here is exceptional. New arrivals to the D.C. area are often surprised by the multitude of parks and wildlife in the area.

Moving Your Belongings to the USA

WACO Truck

White & Company Truck

When your dream move comes to fruition, you need to think about how you are going to move your personal effects from the UK to the USA.

You are going to need a removal firm you can trust to get your belongings to your new residence safely.

This is where White & Company’s removals service to the USA can help.

Being experts in the international removal field, we plan all our moves individually meeting our customers’ needs and requirements.

There is no getting away from the fact that moving home is stressful and even more so when your new home is thousands of miles away!

At White & Company, we do our absolute best to ensure you have a positive removal experience.

Just give us a call, email us, or use our quick quote facility and we can book you in for a house move survey.

Our helpful surveyor will be happy to visit and provide you with our competitive quotation for your move.

All our quotations are cost-free and with no obligation to proceed. You have nothing to lose!

Posted in: News

Leave a Comment (0) ↓