Purchasing Real Estate in Florida as a foreign national
There are a lot of myths floating around the internet in regards of foreign nationals purchasing properties in Florida.
Here are some facts:
1) Foreign Nationals can purchase property in Florida the same way any American Citizen can. No Visa, no Greencard, no social security number is required. However purchasing a property will not have any influence on your immigration status. You can come to the US on vacation – even multiple times a year – as you were able before. To see how long you can stay in the US you might need to check on the rules for your individual county. For most countries the 90 day rule applies. If you are interested in staying longer there are several visa options open to you. You might want to contact an immigration attorney who can discuss those options with you.
2) There are NO special taxes if a Foreign National purchases properties in Florida. The property you are purchasing in Florida will be your second home and treated as a second home as well. You will not be able to apply for Homestead Exemption (which is a property tax exemption for primary residents only), but American Citizens who are purchasing a second home can not do that either
3) If you sell your property in Florida, you will have to follow Firpta rules: http://www.irs.gov/businesses/small/international/article/0,,id=105000,00.html which has quiet a few exceptions: http://www.irs.gov/businesses/small/international/article/0,,id=102254,00.html If the property you are selling in the US and it should not qualify for any of the exceptions (most of them will qualify so), you will be able to file a tax return and get most of your money back that way (it will take a few weeks)
4) A Foreign National can finance a home in Florida. Normally there is a 25 – 35 % Down payment required, proof of income, reference letters from the home country (for example tax accountant, bank, …), 6 month bank statements and for some countries also a copy of a credit report from the home country if available. Not all banks will finance foreign nationals but a few have good foreign national programs again. TIB Bank and Busey Bank will do foreign national loans and Kirstin Paul is a mortgage broker who is specialized in foreign national loans and can go “mortgage shopping” for the best program for you : http://www.financingforeignnationals.com/?locale=en_US
5) You can purchase insurance in Florida which covers Hurricanes and Flood. Costs vary but they are NOT astronomical expensive.
Costs in connection with the property:
In Florida you have to run the Air condition pretty much all year around. The AC is not only to cool the property, but mainly it will take the humidity out of the air and will avoid mold build up. Also if you have a pool, the pool pump has to run as well. Even for the time you are not here, you can not disconnect the power.
In Florida everything growth fast and that includes your lawn. Specially in the summer month you will have to have your lawn cut once a week.
If you home has a pool, you will have to have a pool service to check chemicals and clean once a week, unless you have a salt water system. A salt water system pool does not require intensive care
Property Taxes are paid once a year. Taxes vary in area, age and size of the house
You can purchase Home Owners Insurance which will include Wind/Hurricane. In addition you can purchase flood insurance depending on the area your property is located in.
Property Manager/Home Watch
If you are not here, you will need a property manager or a home watch company to look after your property
There are a few companies who offer vacation home services, that means you can turn it on when you are here and turn it off when you leave. With that you don’t have to pay for the service while you are gone. Comcast and Prism offer those vacation services in SW Florida.
What else you might want to know...
- Real Estate commission in SW Florida is being paid by the seller for both agents (seller’s agent and buyer’s agent)
- All Realtors have access to the MLS System (Central Data Base) where all available properties are searchable. That means all Realtors have access to all properties no matter which company has the properties listed. With this said, you can pick an Agent you like and this Agent can help you to find your Dream Home. You do not have to go from Agent to Agent.
- Most of the closing costs (except your finance costs) are being paid by the seller. (Unless otherwise agreed on)