Buying Property in the US



Real Estate market in the US 

The US does not impose any restrictions on foreigners from owning property. Realtors are available to assist you in your search for property or you could always do your own research on the internet or by reading newspapers, magazines or simply driving around neighborhoods and looking for "for sale" signs. Taxes and requirements differ across states and you would save yourself a lot of trouble by hiring an estate agent and a lawyer to help you with the nitty-gritty of property purchase. 


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Costs Likely To Be Incurred 

As a rule of thumb, the costs associated with buying property in the US vary between 3-5% of the cost of property. All expenses incurred towards processing your loan application must be paid for in advance. Other than this you will most likely have to pay stamp duty, inspection fees, mortgage insurance, title insurance and fees involved in setting up the loan. Usually, costs vary with the type of loan applied for by the buyer and the stipulations of the purchase agreement. 

Investing in title insurance protects the buyer's interest particularly in the event that the seller's title to the property is not clear. Any buyer would do well by purchasing title insurance to off-set any losses that may occur due to the defect in the seller's title at a later stage.  

Property Taxes 

Property taxes in the US vary across the states and the amount you pay will be determined by whether you have residency or not. Local taxes are levied. Income tax and capital gains taxes in America are low, however inheritance taxes are a different ball game altogether and call for professional advice.  


Once you identify a property that you like and make an offer on it, an agreement of sale must be drawn up. The agreement binds both the buyer and the seller to the sale subject to certain conditions. Important stipulations relate to the buyer obtaining a mortgage and seller's clean title to the property. As a buyer you must fulfill all conditions and meet deadlines set out in the agreement, failing which the seller may pull out of the sale.  


A survey report is known as an "Inspection Report" in the US and it is important to have one before buying property. This is because the buyer purchases property on an "as is where is" basis and there can be no complaints once the sale is closed. If the report brings to light a need for repairs then make sure you include that as a stipulation in the agreement of sale.  


Banks and financial institutions offer mortgage facilities to expatriates interested in buying property in the US. If you own property in your home country and would like to borrow against the same you can always get an independent financial advisor to assist you in the process. In view of the recent economic crisis mortgages may not be that easy to come by though.