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In general, the US is very friendly to international buyers, and the process for home purchasing is quite similar to that of US buyers.
That said, there are some basic practices here that any foreign buyer should understand ahead of time, and certain variations in the market that any international investor ought to know about. Tax policies, credit checks, and financing will all be slightly different for foreign buyers.
PURCHASING PROPERTY IN THE U.S.
Purchasing property in the U.S. can be a transparent and efficient process. Unlike in many countries where buyers must bounce from agent to agent to find a property, new listing for sale are generally required to be posted on a listing service within 24 hours so that active listings are available to all brokers and agents.
Sales commissions are always paid by the seller and are divided equally between the buyer’s and seller’s brokers. While some seller’s brokers may engage in dual representation, that is, representing both the seller and buyer in a transaction, it is always advisable for a buyer to work with an exclusive buyer’s agent who will better protect the interest of their client.
FOREIGN NATIONALS MUST CONSULT WITH A TAX SPECIALIST IN THEIR HOME COUNTRY
There are a number of differences between a Foreign National and U.S. National when Foreign Nationals purchase real estate in the U.S. A Foreign National should seek local tax advice in their primary residence, as overall tax liability may depend upon the Foreign National’s home country tax treaty with the US, if any exists. As an example, if the property was owned for more than one year, the capital gains tax rate in the U.S. is 20%, but a Foreign National could be required to pay a different rate depending on the home country’s tax treaty with the U.S. and structuring of the transaction.
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