By Steven A. Culbreath, Esq.
Most of us at one point or another feel the need for a place to get away from the daily grind and routine. For those who do not already live in a locality drenched in sunshine and warm weather, the need to find and own their personal place under the sun somewhere can be a lifelong ambition. However, those seeking to buy property in the United States need to be mindful of certain conditions and parameters, before sealing the deal.
First and foremost, a non-U.S. citizen or Non-Resident needs to be aware of restrictions and provisions of U.S. Immigration Law. Some nationals of certain countries need to obtain visas before being able to visit the United States, even if only for recreational purposes. Other nationals may travel visa-free on the Visa Waiver Program or under NAFTA-provisions (Canadians and Mexicans). Once you own your U.S. property, how will you use it? To spend time on vacation/holiday there? To spend the winter month’s? To stay there while conducting limited short-terms business trips in the States? To set up one’s eventual U.S. residence for longer-term purposes? Ownership of U.S. real estate alone will not provide the foreign property owner with any particular rights or privileges regarding legal stay or status. One should consult with a qualified immigration lawyer if one’s purpose or goal exceeds that of a casual tourist.
The next consideration would be for the would-be buyer to familiarize oneself thoroughly with the U.S. system of real estate transactions, which can differ greatly from the system in one’s home country. Many concepts will be different or unfamiliar for a first-time transaction. Working with qualified professionals on-site who can walk the would-be buyer through the process (preferably in one’s native language if possible) is critical and can save lots of frustrations.
Additional considerations should be given to issues such as currency exchange rates, international wire transfers, difference in banking systems, multi-national taxation and accounting issues, import/export restrictions regarding currency and household goods (which ties into immigration issues), as well as local government issues regarding residency and domicile.
While owning overseas property can be — and often is — very rewarding, obtaining property in another country can be a process fraught with pitfalls, problems, delays and other frustrations, ranging from inconvenience, to economic loss, to legal liability. One should never attempt an overseas property transaction unprepared, without the guidance and advice of seasoned, competent advisors. These should include real estate agents, licensed lawyers, accountants, and other supporting professionals well-acquainted in dealing with international clients.
Under the constant advice and counsel of a qualified group of professionals, buying and owning overseas property should be a rewarding experience.
Steven A. Culbreath, Esq.
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Here in Florida Pinellas County we have a huge percentage of foreign buyers and seller. All these people have a lot of questions and need information and advice. Steven A. Culbreath a local Florida immigration lawyer is nice enough and helps us to get some of the important information out to foreign sellers and buyers.