Everything You Need to Know Buying a House as a Non-Resident
6 minute read
May 27, 2024


Whether you hope to invest or reside, buying a house in America is a goal for many, even overseas. Nonresidents can certainly participate in the U.S. housing market. 

This opens doors for international buyers seeking a foothold in a stable market, whether for investment or a future part-time residence. 

However, navigating the legalities and financial aspects requires careful planning. 

This article will delve into the key considerations for buying a house as a non-resident, equipping you with the knowledge needed for a successful purchase.

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Legal aspects of buying property as a non-resident

Non-residents face no restrictions on purchasing residential or commercial property in the USA. Foreigners can own real estate outright, and property rights are protected by U.S. laws. 

However, buyers should know state-specific regulations and local ordinances that may affect their purchase.

Visa requirements

While owning property does not grant residency status or a visa, non-residents do not need a specific visa to buy property in the USA. 

However, your visa type can impact your ability to stay in the country and manage your property. 

Common visas for property owners include the B-1/B-2 visitor visa, which allows for temporary stays for business or pleasure, including property management.

Restrictions and limitations

There are generally no significant restrictions on non-resident property ownership. 

However, some considerations include:

  1. Financing: Obtaining a mortgage can be more challenging for non-residents, as discussed in the financial considerations section below
  2. Reporting requirements: Non-residents must comply with U.S. tax laws and any reporting requirements, which can be complex and necessitate professional advice

Financial considerations for non-resident property purchases

Beyond the legalities, buying a house as a non-resident involves several financial considerations that require careful planning.

Loan requirements for non-residents

Non-residents can secure mortgages in the USA, but the process differs from that for residents. 

Requirements often include:

  • A larger down payment (typically 30% or more)
  • Higher interest rates
  • Proof of income and assets

Lenders may also require an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) and credit references from the buyer’s home country. 

Mortgages for non-resident borrowers: Conventional vs. hard money

Securing financing is a crucial step in buying a house as a non-resident in the USA. However, traditional avenues like conventional mortgages might present challenges. 

Conventional mortgages

  • Strict eligibility requirements: Conventional loans have stringent requirements, including minimum credit scores, extensive income verification, and a minimum down payment (often 20% or more). These hurdles can be difficult to overcome for non-residents with limited U.S. credit history or income documentation.
  • Lengthy approval process: Conventional mortgage applications involve a complex process with various documents and verifications, leading to longer closing times that might not align with your investment timeline.

Hard money loans

  • Faster approvals: Hard money lenders focus primarily on the property’s value as collateral, making the approval process faster and less dependent on your financial history, which can benefit non-residents.
  • Flexible down payments: Hard money loans often require lower down payments than conventional mortgages, increasing your buying power.
  • Ideal for fix-and-flip investments: Many non-residents look to invest in fixer-upper properties. Hard money loans are often used for such projects due to quicker turnaround times.

Hard money loans are the better option for non-residents

While hard money loans come with higher interest rates than conventional mortgages, the benefits often outweigh the drawbacks for non-resident buyers. 

Conventional loans emphasize credit history for approval, something non-residents may have yet to establish in the U.S.

The speed, flexibility, and focus on property value make them a more realistic option for navigating the U.S. housing market as a non-resident.

Cash purchases

Cash purchases simplify the buying process, eliminate interest costs, and leverage negotiation. 

However, beyond ensuring buyers have the necessary funds, they must consider the implications of transferring large sums of money internationally.

Tax implications: federal, state, and local taxes

Non-residents are subject to various taxes when purchasing property in the USA. These include federal, state, and local taxes, varying significantly by location. 

Key taxes to be aware of include:

  • Federal income tax: Non-residents must report rental income and may be subject to U.S. income tax on this income
  • State and local taxes: These vary by state and locality and can include income tax, sales tax on property purchases, and other fees

Property taxes and potential deductions

Property taxes are assessed annually based on the property’s value and vary by location. 

Non-resident property owners must pay these taxes and may be eligible for certain deductions, such as those related to rental income expenses and mortgage interest. 

It’s highly advisable to consult with a tax professional familiar with non-resident tax laws to ensure compliance and optimize tax liability.

Process of buying a house in the USA as a non-resident

Financing a U.S. property can be a hurdle for non-residents. Here’s a breakdown of the general steps involved, highlighting key differences between conventional and hard money loans.

1. Documentation

  • Conventional: Extensive documentation required, potentially including foreign income verification and U.S. credit history (if available).
  • Hard Money: Less emphasis on personal finances, with more focus on property value and appraisal.
  • Both: Proof of income and assets (tax returns, bank statements, etc.).

2. Lenders

  • Both: Whether applying for a conventional or hard money loan, find a lender with experience in non-resident purchases. 

3. Application 

  • Conventional: Expect a lengthy and detailed application process with credit checks and income verification.
  • Hard Money: Generally faster and simpler, focusing on the property itself.

4. Loan approval

  • Conventional: Approval hinges on meeting strict credit score and income requirements.
  • Hard Money: Approval hinges on the property’s value and potential as collateral.

5. Closing

  • Both: Involves finalizing paperwork, appraisals (almost always required), and ensuring proper fund transfers.

Non-resident homebuying: Challenges and solutions


  • Legal complexity: U.S. real estate laws vary by state, requiring careful navigation to avoid legal issues.
  • Financing hurdles: Stricter mortgage requirements and higher interest rates for non-residents can be obstacles.
  • Currency fluctuations: Exchange rate changes can impact the overall property cost.
  • Remote management: Managing a property abroad can be difficult, especially regarding maintenance and tenants.


  • Local experts: Partner with real estate agents, attorneys, and property managers to ensure legal compliance and handle day-to-day management.
  • Currency risk management: Utilize financial tools like forward contracts and currency exchange services to manage exchange rate fluctuations.

Can a non-resident buy a house in the USA? Conclusion

Non-residents can successfully purchase property in the USA with careful planning, professional guidance, and the right financing options to support them. 

Consult with an experienced real estate professional and leverage the best financial tools so you can navigate the process smoothly as a non-resident. 

Start your loan with Park Place Finance or call us at (866) 407-1599 to speak with a dedicated account executive.


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