Saturday, October 13, 2018

How a Foreign National Can Buy Real Estate in America

Opportunities for real estate investment for foreigners is wide and varied in the United States. It doesn't matter where you're from and what currency you'd be using to purchase a property, you have a property waiting for you.

There are generally three kinds of real estate investment available to foreigners. These investments include the commercial estate investment and residential property investment. Residential properties are further classified into single family properties, apartments or condominiums and recreational properties. Regardless of what kind of real estate you are interested in, there are all sorts of tax ramifications, financing options and legal requirements that you have to deal with.

Why Should You Invest in the U.S. Real Estate Market?

You've probably heard of the increasing number of foreign real estate investments in the United States. This is not surprising. With the troubles that the real estate investment market is facing in the United States, greater opportunities in real estate investment were opened to foreign investors.

With the dollar's value in its all time low, foreign investors are finding real estate bargains all over the United States. There are no shortages of deals in this market. More and more distressed properties are being sold everywhere and foreigners are pouring in millions buying these foreclosed or distressed properties. The United States real estate has become a fairly attractive long-term investment for foreign investors.

In November of 2006, the National Association of Realtors released a report entitled "Foreign Investments in U.S Real Estate: Current Trends and Historical Perspective". The report showed that there has been a steady increase in foreign real estate investment in the United States. This is especially after the euro and the loonie became stronger in the face of the continuous devaluation of the US dollar. Prime bargains were opened to foreigners. Many foreigners have now looked into the possibility of retiring or settling in the United States.

If you're a foreigner, you would find a lot of reasons why you should invest in the United States real estate market. Aside from the fact that the floating exchange rate has given you a lot of leverage over the bargaining table, the financial market is a pretty good reason why you should invest in the US real estate.

The financial market in the United States in relation to the real estate market is quite liberal and the restrictions against foreign investors are pretty reasonable. This is ideal for foreign companies that are seeking to invest in the real estate market in the United States in order to avoid tariff restrictions and are considering setting up an office or a company in the United States.

Furthermore, despite the devaluation of the US dollar and the wide foreclosures of a lot of property, the real estate market remains to be stable, though slightly shaky, due to foreign investors' capital appreciation. Domestic real estate buyers may not necessarily share the same opinion, but the market has remained to be strong for foreign real estate buyers. This may be largely credited to the fact that there is minimal risk for them.

Why are Foreign Real Estate Investments Safe and Profitable?

There are a lot of investments you can make, but the safest you can make right now is investing your money in real properties. This is another good reason aside from the fact that you can make a pretty nifty profit, if you like, particularly now with the widespread property foreclosures and seemingly continuous US dollar devaluation. This is especially true if you are going to use the euro or the loonie when making your investment.

But why is US real estate investment safe for foreigners?

It is undeniable that stock investments are not a safe avenue at this point. The recession has not only affected the US economy; the same recession has greatly affected worldwide stock investments. Stocks values are dropping. It is also a fact that even without the current economic situation, stock values fluctuates.

On the other hand, real estate investments are pretty stable if you would compare it to stock investments - or even bond or mutual fund investments. With real estate investment, you'd be putting your money in an investment that would grow in value as years go by.

What are the Benefits of Foreign Real Estate Investment?

US state government supports foreign investments and along this line has formulated various tax breaks to encourage foreign investment on real estate. Many of these tax breaks are not available in many countries. In fact, most countries would frown at foreigners owning real properties within their territory.

Foreign real estate investment in the United States is open to everyone. As long as you can afford to buy the property or at least comply with the mortgage requirements and payments, you can secure for yourself a pretty good property in the United States. Again, with the current economic situation of the United States, this is the perfect chance for you to make an investment.

Another great benefit that you can take advantage of is the availability of mortgage financing. Lenders have opened their doors to foreign investors who are looking into purchasing a property. So, you don't have to actually deplete your bank account. You can actually secure a mortgage loan and gradually pay it off.

I'm Canadian, What Are My Financing Options?

There is a steady increasing rate of Canadian real estate investors in the United States; and accordingly, the government has made certain that they have attractive financing options available to them.

If you're Canadian - or if you're a foreigner - you'd find a lot of reasons why you should buy a piece of real property in the United States. For Canadians, the parity of the currencies or the apparent devaluation of the US dollar is a pretty good reason itself. But how do you finance your purchase?

There are various financing options available to you depending on which state you are in. In Arizona, for instance, you'd get favorable financing terms if you are purchasing a property for recreational purposes, that is, you do not derive any income or benefit from your purchase or ownership. You will be required, however, to sign up a disclosure agreement and give a 30% down payment for your loan. To qualify though for a loan, you may be required to show availability of liquid reserves for a period of three to six months. You may also be required to present a minimum of 3-month bank statement.

If you are purchasing a property for investment, you'd probably meet stricter terms. Requirements may be more stringent. For instance, you could be required to give a down payment of more than 30% and you may be required to show one year worth of liquidity reserves.

Regardless of your reasons, if you feel like you can fulfill the requirements of a financing loan, you can then proceed to actually applying for a mortgage loan. Also, keeping yourself updated with the financing terms flux may be a wise idea.

Understanding the Tax Ramifications of Real Estate Investment

The first foreigner to have ever bought a real estate property in the United States was Peter Minuit. This opened the doors to foreign real estate investors. After a couple of centuries later, foreign real estate investment has grown into huge proportions, accounting for billion-of-dollar worth of industry.

The low risk attached to US real estate market, the availability of countless properties, and the steady market liquidity attract foreign investors in droves. The initial snag, however, is the process of understanding the legal ramifications of foreign real estate investment.

What you have to understand is that foreign investment in the United States can take a lot of forms. A foreigner has various options. He can acquire direct interest. He can acquire an interest in the real estate through a partnership, a corporation, or a limited liability company. The latter is the typical structure used by foreign investors.

Limited partnership or Limited Liability Company offers financial protection or indirect asset protection, especially in cases of bankruptcy, law suits and taxes. Foreign investors are generally taxed on the property as if they hold the property in direct interest.

Ideally, you should secure the services of a real estate accountant to help you out with the tax ramifications, but it would help if you, at least, know the basics before you actually talk to an accountant.

There are tax consequences that you have to deal with when you buy a real estate in the United States. You would need an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number which you will use with all your tax transactions. Your investment in real estates can be treated as a portfolio investment and will be accounted for as an investment income which can either be fixed or a periodic income. This is typically taxed at 30% on gross revenues. This tax though does not apply though to all foreign investors. Tax rates would vary depending on the tax personality the foreign investor opted for. For instance, a corporation would be taxed differently.

Other things that you should take note of are availability and requirements of tax refunds and state tax laws on real estate properties as they may differ from federal laws, among other things.

By knowing all these things, you may save yourself from a lot of hassles when you finally approach a real estate accountant. You'd be in same wavelength when you finally get down to talking business. It is, however, very important that you secure the services of an accountant. You'd have an easier time dealing with the taxes ramifications. You'd also have assistance ensuring that you comply with all the accounting aspect of your investment. This is especially true if you are purchasing a real property for investment purposes.

Do You Need to Secure the Service of a Real Estate Lawyer?

If you are considering buying a property in the United States, you need to secure the services of a real estate attorney - someone who could help you with the legal issues concerning your purchase. It is tempting to forego securing the service of a lawyer to save money, but this could cost you a lot of money in the long run. Make sure that you have an experienced and trustworthy lawyer to help you out. Make sure that you have thoroughly checked out his credentials, profile, history of successful cases handled by him, and other factors that would influence your decision. You could check online and look for a lawyer working within the state where you are considering purchasing a property.

Functions of a Real Estate Lawyer

There is no actual distinctive function for a lawyer in a real estate case. However, you would really need the assistance of a lawyer for various tasks. A real estate lawyer would review the sales contract for you. He would also check on the title and other documents relating to the property. A lawyer would also review your mortgage contract and make the necessary adjustments or corrections. You could also get him to review with you the legal and tax issues concerning the purchase. A real estate attorney could also make the necessary adjustments relating to various expenses and costs involved in the purchase. He would assess your eligibility for tax refunds and draft the documents and statements relating to this.

Putting it simply, a real estate lawyer will be your watchdog. He would guide you through the whole process of purchasing a real estate in the United States in order to make sure that you will be legally protected. You will have a capable and trustworthy liaison to help you out with the contract. He will also face legal disputes if any arise.

Tips on How to Invest in Real Estate Successfully

Now, if you've fully bought into the idea of real estate investing in the United States, you might just want to know how to go about investing in real estate successfully. If you want to be successful in this venture, the first thing that you have to avoid is overanalyzing. Of course, it is a good idea to carefully think through your actions but it is a bad idea to overanalyze your investment to nonexistence. You might lose a great opportunity.

Before you purchase the property though, it might be wise to check the property value. If it sits well with you and you can reasonably afford the property, go ahead and make the purchase.

If you are considering the property for a quick flip, make sure that the property is in perfect condition and in good area. This is to ensure that you could double or actually triple your return of investment. If you can inspect the property yourself, do so. If not, a good and trustworthy agent can help you with this task.

Another important thing to remember when you're buying real estate is good financing. You should take your time to carefully consider all your financing options. Foreign investors can email in their queries to various lending institutions. It is a good idea to make sure that you've had their terms and rates on paper because they tend to change these terms and charge you with a lot of junk. Your real estate agent can help you with reviewing the escrow charges.

The bottom line, however, is that it is very important that you do your homework before you actually buy a real property. Investing in real properties in the United States can be profitable especially during these times. In fact, it may be the wisest and most perfect investment you can make right now.



Maria Gudelis has been a real estate investor and entrepreneur for over 10 years. She has investigated or bought properties all over the world including Mexico, Ecuador, Canada and the U.S.A. Past co-founder of the Southern California 'Forum for Women Entrepreneurs', her passion is to help other entrepreneurs leverage technology and real estate to be successful in their businesses. Her website is at [http://www.maria-gudelis.com]

By: Maria Gudelis

Sunday, September 30, 2018

New York Real Estate Ownership Guide

This article is designed to be a roadmap for the first time homebuyer or seller. Throughout, I'll guide you through the many steps of purchasing or selling your property and explain to you in the process how to avoid the most common mistakes. You will also learn both the legal and psychological problems often encountered.

For most people, buying (or selling) a home is one of the biggest part of living the "American dream". It's also probably the biggest investments they will ever make. Not surprising then, that many find this experience to be very exciting but also worrisome at the same time. Achieving the final transaction and transfer of funds for the property (referred to as the "closing") can leave many home owners feeling exhausted, even depressed. The same can be said for buyers. However, if the process is done correctly, it can also be both interesting and exciting for everybody involved. The ultimate outcome depends on many factors: time, energy needed to devote to the transaction, thoughtfulness and patience. All these traits are included in the process, and all can have an impact on your bottom line.

That's why preparation is key in any successful transaction. The process, complicated by multiple transactions and waiting periods, can be quite confusing. Real estate transactions require expertise. Those wanting total control of the transaction with a do-it-yourself attitude can make many costly mistakes. So unless buyers and sellers have a solid background in Real Estate, they stand to lose thousands of dollars in any given transaction.

Saving on New York Real Estate Attorney Fees

Trying to save a few extra dollars on legal fees may sound like a nice idea, especially for those with large down payments. But this strategy may backfire. You may end up being penny-wise, but broke in the long run. There are many detailed procedures involved in the purchase process that the vast majority of consumers may overlook.

In one of the biggest purchases of your life, it's simply not the time to "bargain shop". Remember the key criteria: if you can't afford to see the big picture in the transaction you probably aren't ready to close the deal. The amount of legal fees charged should not be the deciding factor in hiring a particular New York Real Estate Lawyer. You retain a New York Real Estate Lawyer because you trust that they will represent your best interest in the transaction. The bottom line is that you want a New York Real Estate Lawyer you can trust, if trust becomes an issue you are well advised to seek another New York Real Estate Lawyer, no matter how low the fees are. For the most part, a New York Real Estate Lawyers aim to satisfy their clients and keep that satisfaction within the legal bounds of the law --all at the same time. The happier their clients, the busier the New York Real Estate Attorney will be with future clients. So it makes common sense as much as it makes dollars sense to retain a New York Real Estate Lawyer who aim is to achieve the client's goal in the real estate transaction.
Real Estate transactions involve use of standard legal language. It is quite understandable then, if a buyer or seller do not understand the terms used in the transaction. First-time homebuyers have the worst experience. That is the reason why it makes sense to hire a New York Real Estate Lawyer who can represent your interest and can help you avoid pitfalls and unnecessary problems.
If not detected prior to closing, once a problem occurs, it can take time and money to correct the situation. An attorney with experience in New York real estate law can help steer a buyer or seller away from costly mistakes.

What kind of home fits my needs?

When buying a home, you have to determine what property will fit your needs. Picking the right kind of property to purchase requires careful planning, organization, and sacrifice. Since most people don't have the time, real estate brokers can be extremely helpful in letting you understand the many issues you might encounter. The questions involved can be overwhelming. What matters need further inquiry? Which homes come with bad neighbors? There are many matters which you need to inquire about when you look at different properties that interests you. However, some issues are common to most real estate purchases. A simple tip is to determine what borough you like to live. If you plan on living in Queens, Brooklyn, Bronx, Staten Island, Manhattan or Long Island, you may want to deal with a broker in that borough.

Coop or Condos?

Cooperatives are the most popular property purchased in New York City. One reason for this is a trend away from expense-ridden properties where foreclosures are common. Another reason for coop popularity is convenience. Deals can be less expensive (about half the price of a condo) and may involve less paperwork in the closing. Less financial stress and fewer headaches might sound good, right? But what most buyers don't know is that when you buy a co-op, you're NOT buying the physical apartment. Actually, you're buying "shares" of a corporation that owns the building which contains the co-op on its land. Also keep in mind that, just like any other company, a co-op has officers such as a president, a vice-president and a treasurer. And just like any other company they're responsible for the well being of the coop. If the coop suffers a financial meltdown, you could lose your apartment investment altogether.

What happens if I do decide to buy a coop?

You receive a stock certificate and a proprietary lease.

The co-op requires that each coop owner pay a "maintenance fee". If you own a condo, you'll be paying a "common charge." Usually, the monthly fee paid by a shareholder is almost double the fee paid by condo owners.

Sometimes a co-op only "owns" the improvements, and some other company or organization owns the land. This form of co-op is not the normal situation, but it does exist. Your New York Real Estate Attorney should be able to assist you in determining if you are purchasing such a property.

Where does the maintenance fee go? How is the money spent?

When an "entity" (i.e. some organization or other company) holds a mortgage of the co-op, the coop corporation must pay a monthly mortgage payment to the bank. The "maintenance fee" charged to coop owners helps the corporation offset this cost. By charging each shareholder a charge per share the "maintenance fee" helps pay the city taxes on the property as a whole and pay for the expenses in maintaining the property (such as the superintendent or doorman) The "common charge" for a condo helps offset the expenses associated with the maintenance of the building. Elevators, painting, cleanliness and any landscaping all require funding not to mention the common areas of the residential unit.

It is important to note that the monthly fee is not fixed. Just like rent, it can be increased. In buying a condo, however, you are buying a portion of the physical building in which the apartment is located. You then own part of the building and will receive a deed to the property that shows that you are the legal owner. The common charges for condos usually tend to be stable. Most co-ops require that a seller receive approval by the board before attempting to sell. Likewise, the buyer must also be approved by the board to make sure that the buyer will be a "responsible" co-op owner. One exception to this situation is when the coop has a special status as being a "sponsor unit". That means that when the building was converted into a co-op, the co-op conversion plans allowed the sponsor of the building to reserve the right to sell unsold shares without board approval. If you are purchasing the co-op from the original sponsor, then most likely you will not need to get board approval. The same applies to subletting the unit. In most cases you'll need permission. In some cases, purchasing the unit from the original sponsor, may entitle you to the same rights and privileges as the sponsor.

Recently after the cost of fuel skyrocketed, many co-ops and condos monthly fees increased. So when buying a coop or condo make sure that you understand the financial future implications. Ask for the financial information before signing on the bottom line.

Should I buy a single or multi-family residence?

One of the most common dilemmas encountered when purchasing a home is whether to buy a "single-family home" or "muti-family home". Common sense dictates that a single-family home will cost you significantly less than a multi-family home, and will appreciate accordingly. What are the advantages? The peace that comes with it is enticing for some. Not having to deal with renting to strangers, and the headaches of hiring (or being) a landlord. However, on the other side of that argument, a multi-family home can be a financial plus: the rental income helps with the monthly mortgage payments and makes ownership less financially stressful.

How can a real estate agents help me?

Normally the first person you may have direct contact with in the purchase or sale of land or residence, is a real estate agent. Most people use them rather than do it themselves. The agent works for his or her supervisor, and they are called "brokers". The kind of relationship you have with the agent can have a major impact on how well you as a buyer or seller, understand the initial process, and transaction. Two important points: Agents can normally provide good advice and suggestions regarding your purchase or sale. Since they're well-educated in both the property markets and their field, they are can give you past performance for a particular property. However, although the agent may seem to work for you, unless expressly contracted for, they normally work for the seller!

What is a Binder? Why is it important?

A binder (otherwise known as an "offer to purchase") is the first document secured by a minimal money deposit. You will normally sign a binder at the moment that you decide to make the seller an offer to purchase. This tells the seller that you are serious about making the purchase. Once the Binder Agreement is executed, the real estate broker or agent will present it to the seller. If accepted, the property will no longer be shown to potential buyers. It is important to note that the binder, unlike a contract of sale, is subject to a time limit. Unless the binder details the money to be refunded, it will be forfeited under most circumstances.

What should I know about the "Contract of Sale"?

The contract of sale is the first formal stage of the buying and selling process. When you have retained a New York Real Estate Lawyer and have made an acceptable offer, at this point in time, you and the seller will sign a contract of sale. The seller's New York Real Estate Attorney will normally draft the contract and then the buyer's New York Real Estate Attorney will review the contract to make sure that you are protected from any future problems (both legal and residential issues).

It's also important to note that when the buyer signs the contract, a "Down Payment" is given to the seller for the seller's New York Real Estate Attorney to hold in a special account called an "Escrow". The seller's New York Real Estate Attorney is required by ethical rules to do so. However, not to worry: the entire amount will of course, be credited to the buyer and applied to the final outstanding balance at "closing."

The biggest mistake a buyer or seller can make is signing a contract of sale before getting adequate legal representation. A contract of sale is an agreement to purchase and sell the property. Once it's signed, it becomes a legal document. If you change your mind and want to change the terms of the agreement or if you want out of the transaction altogether, then you will find yourself in an extremely frustrating legal bind. That's why an experienced New York Real Estate Lawyer is necessary throughout the process, especially at the beginning stages. The contract of sale dictates exactly how the transaction will proceed. It says how payments will be made and collected, and contains all the important details. Tell your New York Real Estate Lawyer every detail which you think is important and essential to you intensions. For example, maybe you are selling another property while simultaneously buying a home. Since the sale of your property is a condition, that condition is a major detail that you should tell your New York Real Estate Lawyer since, the other "party" may have not accepted your offer had they known such a condition.

Another issue that sometimes comes up is the issue of occupancy. Generally a house is sold vacant. However, if you would like to keep the existing tenants, it is a good idea to tell your New York Real Estate Lawyer (assuming it's not a new construction), and that by itself can save you time and hassle in the process of renting the property later on.

As a seller, should I have my home inspected?

Home inspections can sometimes make or break the deal. A New York Real Estate Lawyer can secure a condition in the contract of sale which allows the buyer to refuse to purchase the property if the home inspector determines that the structure is not physically sound. Termite problems or signs of other wood-destroying insects are great reasons for a buyer to opt out of the contract. In such cases the seller usually return the buyer's down payment and everybody walks away from the table. Home inspections are relatively convenient, inexpensive and will save you a lot of time and money.

Finding a New York Real Estate Lawyer?

When looking for legal representation, most importantly, you want a New York Real Estate Attorney whom you feel comfortable with. If you don't feel comfortable with a particular New York Real Estate Attorney, chances are that you will not have a good working relationship.

An experienced New York Real Estate Lawyer, who you feel comfortable with, can be greatly beneficial in explaining and reducing the mystery out of buying or selling real estate in New York. Your New York Real Estate Lawyer can review and prepare the contract of sale, order title insurance, and conduct key parts of the transaction. Making sure the property you are purchasing has no undisclosed liens. If they do exist, your New York Real Estate Lawyer can take care that they will be satisfied prior to the closing.

The last thing you need is to have doubts and questions about your transaction. You want to make sure that after all the documents are signed and notarized, that you understand what just happened and that you are confident that everything was done correctly.

When should I close the deal?

The closing is the climax of the transaction. The buyer's New York Real Estate Attorney is normally the ringmaster who coordinates the time and place of the closing. The closing is where the parties meet to finalize the deal. Normally the parties you will see at the meeting are the seller and their New York Real Estate Attorney, the bank's New York Real Estate Attorney, and the title representative. What occurs at the closing table can be broken down to three major steps:

The bank makes the loan to the buyer and in return the buyer gives the bank an interest in the property (Mortgage)

The buyer turns that loan over to the seller and in turn receives a deed from the seller

The title company makes certain that the seller does indeed own the property they are transferring

Unless there are any serious outstanding issues, the closing can take about 2-3 hours. At this stage, the buyer should have obtained homeowners Insurance prior to the closing. Since not all insurance companies charge the same prices for the replacement value of a house you might want to shop around before the closing.

Lastly, a day or two prior to the closing, it's always a good idea to do a walk though of the property to make sure that it is in the same condition as when you decided to buy it.



Odalis M. Encarnacion is a New York City Real Estate Lawyer in private practice. For more information visit him on the web: http://www.encarnacionlaw.com