Can Foreigners Buy Property in the USA? Investing with a Foreign Partner
6 minute read
June 25, 2024


While the U.S. property market has historically attracted international investors, navigating the buying process as a foreigner can seem complex. However, buying property with a foreign partner can result in a smooth transaction. 

U.S. investors looking to capitalize on international interest may partner with a non-citizen to create a mutually profitable endeavor. 

These types of partnerships can reap great rewards for everyone, but with this opportunity comes a vital need for understanding the rules and regulations of buying property with a foreign partner. 

This article explores the essential aspects of foreign investment in U.S. real estate and guides legal and financial considerations.

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Legal aspects of foreign investment in U.S. real estate

Foreign investors can purchase real estate in the U.S. without significant restrictions. 

U.S. laws allow non-residents to own property, offering similar rights as U.S. citizens. 

However, state-specific regulations might be different and may influence your property acquisition plans—they should be checked out directly.

Impact of visa status on property ownership

While owning property does not grant residency or visa benefits, the type of visa held can affect an investor’s ability to stay in the U.S. for extended periods. 

For example, B-1/B-2 visitor visas permit temporary stays for business or tourism, including property management, but do not allow permanent residence.

Understanding joint ownership with a foreign partner

Joint ownership between a U.S. citizen and a foreign partner is permissible and can be structured in several ways, such as joint tenancy or common. 

Each ownership type has legal implications for control, inheritance, and property division, necessitating a clear understanding and agreement between partners.

Relevant regulations and compliance requirements

Foreign investors must comply with various regulations, including reporting requirements according to the International Investment and Trade in Services Survey Act. 

Additionally, foreign investors must navigate various tax obligations, including federal, state, and local taxes. 

The Foreign Investment in Real Property Tax Act (FIRPTA) requires withholding 15% of the sale price when a foreign owner sells U.S. property to cover potential capital gains taxes. 

Regarding taxes in general, it’s also highly advisable to increase your understanding of property taxes and potential deductions, such as those related to rental income and mortgage interest.

Financing options for foreign investors

Foreign investors have several financing options, including mortgages from U.S. lenders catering to international buyers.

These loans typically require larger down payments (often 30% or more) and may have higher interest rates than those available to U.S. citizens operating independently.

Lenders often require proof of income, assets, and an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN).

Mortgages for foreign investors

Securing a mortgage as a foreign investor involves navigating stringent requirements, which may cause some challenges with traditional lenders. 

To streamline the process, work with a lender experienced in international transactions.

Cash purchases: Benefits and considerations

Cash purchases can simplify buying, eliminate interest costs, and provide greater negotiation leverage. 

However, investors must ensure they have sufficient funds and consider the implications of large international money transfers, including potential currency exchange risks.

Hard money loans for foreign investors

Hard money loans benefit foreign investors by providing quick access to capital without the obtrusive requirements of traditional loans. 

These loans are based on the property’s value rather than the borrower’s credit, making them ideal for non-residents with established U.S. credit histories.

Currency exchange and transfer issues

Managing currency exchange rates and transferring large sums into the U.S. from foreign sources can impact the overall cost of purchasing property. 

Investors should use financial tools like forward contracts and currency exchange services to manage exchange rate risks effectively. 

Consulting with financial experts can help optimize currency transfers and mitigate potential losses.

Understanding these legal and financial considerations is essential for foreign investors who want to successfully navigate the U.S. real estate market. 

Proper planning and professional guidance can ensure a smooth and profitable investment experience.

Options for structuring property ownership

When buying property with a foreign partner, deciding on the ownership structure is essential. Common options include:

  1. Joint tenancy: Both partners own the property equally, and if one partner dies, the other automatically inherits the deceased partner’s share
  2. Tenancy in common: Partners can own unequal shares of the property, and each partner’s share can be inherited by their heirs

Legal entities for holding property

Foreign investors often hold property through legal entities such as Limited Liability Companies (LLCs) or trusts. 

  • LLCs: Provide liability protection and may offer tax benefits—these can be particularly useful for investors who want to limit personal liability
  • Trusts: These can be used for estate planning purposes, providing flexibility and control over how the property is managed and distributed

Pros and cons of different ownership structures

  • Joint tenancy: Simple and provides automatic inheritance, but less flexible in terms of ownership proportions
  • Tenancy in common: Offers flexibility in ownership shares but requires legal documentation to manage inheritance
  • LLCs: Protect personal assets and may offer tax advantages but involve more complex setup and ongoing administrative requirements
  • Trusts: Useful for estate planning and control but can be costly to establish and maintain

Successfully buying and investing with a foreign partner

Partnering with foreign investors in U.S. real estate can be a long-term, income-generating opportunity for both parties when approached with thorough research and professional guidance. 

Key points include

  1. Understanding legal and financial consideration
  2. Structuring the investment appropriately
  3. Overcoming common challenges through expert assistance and financial planning 

With careful planning and the right support, investing in U.S. real estate with a foreign partner can offer significant benefits and growth potential.

Trust the experience of Park Place Finance 

Park Place Finance knows what it takes to work outside the conventional lending system. 

For foreigners looking to invest in U.S. real estate but may not be able to meet the requirements of traditional lenders, consider our alternative lending options.

Use our easy online form to get started, or call us at (866) 407-1599 to speak with an account executive.


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