For starters, and to answer that inevitable question – YES, you can own a residential property in the US even if you’re a non-citizen. You can also buy and sell a house, even get a mortgage as long as you have good credit and pay the necessary taxes, albeit bigger.
In a recent National Associations of Realtorsinternational real estateforum held at Washington, D.C., immigration and foreign investors are getting a wider chunk of real estate share in the US. This fact is predicted to fuel a rise in home sales by immigrants and foreign buyers.
A Quick Fact-Check
Speakers Danielle Hale of NAR’s housing research and Alex Nowrasteh of the Center for Global Liberty and Prosperity at the Cato Institute provided some insight into the current situation:
- Overall, a total of $102.6 billion of residential property purchase transactions in 2016 were made to foreign buyers within the period of April 2015 to March 2016
- The number of purchased residential properties totaled 214,885
- Current trend points out that foreign buyers settle for the purchase of more expensive real estate properties
- States where most foreign purchases were recorded are: Florida, California, Texas, Arizona, and New York
A catalyst for growth
The growing number of immigrants is seen to bolster some changes in the purchase demographics of US real estate, according to the speakers. In a survey conducted in 2015, around 20.7 million residents in the US are naturalized citizens, while 22.6 million are foreign-born, non-citizens.
Nowrasteh said immigration affect rent and home prices more than it does the labor market. He goes on to cite the localized impact of immigrants to housing prices and mentions how, for example, laws like the Legal Arizona Workers Act provided a leeway for lesser immigrants that in turn caused a drop in home prices within the state. He states that immigration is “the best way to increase population, housing supply and prices.”
Despite the many political controversies in the country lately, findings from the organization’s 2016 Profile of International Activity in U.S. Residential Real Estate, released in July, shows the increased interest in real estate investment in the US among many foreign investors.
Currently, China leads the majority of real estate foreign buyers in the country, followed by Canada, Mexico, India, and the UK. Hale added that foreign buyers, aside from buying more expensive properties, are also more inclined to pay in cash.