Buying Property in the USA

10th February 2016

It’s no secret that moving abroad can be an overwhelming process, even for the most organised among us. There are visas to apply for, jobs to settle into and some expats might even have to contend with a new language or settling children into school. Then, of course, there is the question of accommodation.
Renting might be an appropriate measure if you are unsure of how long you are planning to stay in a country, but for many expats who are looking at settling down for a longer stint, buying a property might seem like the best course of action. But if you thought purchasing a property in the UK was one of the more stressful tasks you can take on in life, try navigating this process in an unfamiliar culture or in an unfamiliar language. Even if your host country is one with a more familiar culture to that of the UK, or at least that operates in the same language, it is always a good idea to read up and familiarise yourself on the process in advance so that you don’t take anything for granted.
Buying a home in the US
Fortunately, if you’re an expat looking to move to the USA from London and buy property in the US, will find that the road to owning a home is relatively pain-free, once you have legal entry into the country. However, as each state will have its own specific laws around the purchase of property, it is advisable to seek the advice of a licensed real estate agent or attorney to assist with the details. In fact, most property transactions are managed by these agents. Look for one who is a member of the National Association of Realtors (NAR) as it has established a strict ethical code for its members to adhere to.
With apartment rental rates on the rise, according to a report on USA.AngloInfo.com, buying a home in the US could prove to be a great investment. Additionally, homes are generally reasonably-priced (obviously depending on which region you choose to live in) and interest rates have remained low.
ITIN numbers
Expats looking to buy or sell property in the US will need to provide an individual taxpayer identification number (ITIN) at the closing of the transaction. This little number can prove to be a lot of hassle to get hold of and can take over five weeks to come through. Apply for yours via the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) form W-7.
Talking taxes
Either discuss the issue of tax with your real estate agent or contact the IRS to find out further information about tax, as it can be a complex issue. However, it is worth knowing that taxes in the US are levied at three levels: federal, state and local. Federal tax is linked to properties on which an owner earns income, i.e. through renting or selling. Additionally, local governments tend to levy annual taxes to contribute towards facilities such as schools; annual taxes are generally included in your mortgage. Cash buyers should bear in mind they would need to pay the municipal tax collectors.
However long-winded your personal property purchase might be, try to keep your eyes on the prize – a brand new home to call your own where you can put down roots and settle into your new life overseas.
If you are considering moving to the USA, Cadogan Tate will assist you every step of the way – from your first enquiry  to unpacking at your new home, we are here to help and advise you. For more details about Cadogan Tate’s specialist international removals services from London, click here.
Information correct at time of publication.
 

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