U.S. Dollar is LOW. Interest Rates are LOW. Choice is HIGH.

            2008 is a great time to buy property in the United States, especially Florida.  The U.S. Dollar is very low against the EURO and many other currencies.  That means your money buys more, much more now.  

            Interest rates are very low and some U.S. banks and other lenders have loan programs that will work for you now.

            The choice of residential and commercial properties of every kind and type is excellent.  There is a huge selection of properties on the market now.  There is something to satisfy your needs and desires.

         We have the experience and knowledge to assist YOU.   Foreign Nationals (non-U.S. citizens - non-immigrants) who are interested in Buying or Selling any kind of Real Estate in the United States, specifically Florida, CONTACT US NOW.

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Click for information:
Federal Taxation
Reporting and Compliance
Buying With Cash

Financing and Credit
Property Taxes and Insurance


A.  Federal Government Requirements
      In the United States there are very few restrictions on international real estate investors, buyers, or sellers.  The only exceptions concern national security, hostile countries, purchase or control of federal lands, and purchasing a business in a sensitive category.

      As an international investor (foreign national) you may take title to real estate in your own name, in the name of a domestic corporation, foreign corporation, a limited partnership, a limited liability company, a joint venture, a real estate investment trust (REIT), or a foreign pension plan.

      As a foreign national investor purchasing property in the United States you may acquire, transfer, or be involved in a real estate transaction without the permission or approval from any federal, state, or local governmental entity.  You just need to comply with the following three issues.

  1. Immigration
Title 8 of the United States Code details all U.S. Immigration Laws.  Every non-U.S. citizen who wants or needs to enter the United States must have a VISA.  There are over 40 kinds of non-immigrant visas so you should consult an immigration attorney and a U.S. Embassy or Consulate to find out which type of visa is appropriate to your situation. 

      Non-Immigrants (Temporary Residents) who own real estate property in the United States can enter as short- term visitors for a vacation, to study as a full-time student, to conduct special projects, or to be temporarily employed, as well as other reasons.  Some types of Visas for Non-Immigrants are B-1B-2 (Business Visa), E-1/E-2 (Treaty Trader/Investor), F-1 (Full-Time Student), L-1 (Inter-Company Transfer), Investment Visa, and the Visa Waiver Pilot Program. 

      2. Federal Taxation:  Non-immigrants or non-residents must pay taxes on the income that they make from their investments in the United States.  You are not taxed on income made outside the United States unless you overstay your visit.   If you overstay your visit you can become classified as a "Tax Resident" which can result in all of your income from all sources worldwide being subject to U.S. tax.  You are considered to be a U.S. resident for tax purposes if you meet the substantial presence test for the calendar year of your visit.  Therefore it is essential that you keep track of the number of days spent in the United States each year.     
      However, there are exemptions to the specific time limits on stays for medical conditions and when you have specific connections to another country.  You should consult an accountant (CPA) who specializes in these matters to find out about U.S. taxation law.  Information can also be obtained from an immigration attorney or at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate.

      Most probably you won't be eligible to receive a U.S. Social Security Number (SSN), which is also a U.S. citizen's Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN).  Instead you are required to obtain an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN).  A ITIN can be issued by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) or by a Certified Professional Accountant (CPA) approved by the IRS.  You will have to fill out a Form W-7 (in English language) or a Form W-7(SP) (in Spanish language) in order to request your ITIN.  On the W-7 form you will be required to give a valid reason for your application.

      3. Reporting and Compliance
:  If you have income from any source in the United States, including real estate, you are required to file a federal income tax return for the year in which your income was received.  Also, some states and cities collect income tax and require a return to be filed.  

      The federal government also requires all foreign buyers of agricultural land to report their purchase within 45 days of closing the transaction.  

      Real estate agents, brokers, attorneys, and escrow (closing) agents, must report all cash transactions over $10,000 no matter the type of property or reason for the transaction.  That includes binder (escrow) deposits and escrow payments.  Cash transactions less than $10,000 made at near intervals that add up to more than $10,000 are considered to be one transaction.  Therefore, if you pay cash for property, expect that you might be questioned about its source.  IRS Form 8300 is used to report cash binders and transactions.

      In Florida it is illegal to pay a commission or fee to any person or company that does not have an active real estate license unless there is no licensing law in that person or company's state or country (nation).  All payments of referral fees or commissions to bona fide foreign real estate brokers (persons or companies) are subject to a 30% federal withholding tax.  You should consult an accountant  (CPA) for details.

      There are other laws that may pertain to your particular situation so it is always important to consult with the appropriate professionals and government agency officials before entering into a contract to buy or sell real estate in the United States.

B.  Transaction Requirements
         1. Buying with Cash Brought into the United States: 
Although cash or its equivalent is almost always acceptable, there can be issues concerning the amount, its transfer into the United States, and how it was obtained.

U.S. law provides that all cash transactions over $10,000 be reported to the federal government.  The requirement for reporting involves everyone connected to the transaction including real estate agents and brokers, attorneys (lawyers), title companies, closing agents, and lenders.  They may want to know how you earned the money and where it comes from in order to determine that it was legally obtained.

If you finance your real estate or business purchase with a loan from a foreign lender (bank or private) it might be considered a cash transaction because the loan is closed overseas before the property closing.  Then the borrowed money is transferred into the United States to be available for the property purchase closing.

         2. Financing and Credit for Foreign Buyers:  Foreign buyers of real estate in the United States have the option of taking out a loan to make a real estate purchase.  In rising real estate markets and usual economic conditions, there are numerous lenders (banks and mortgage brokers) that will lend money to non-United States citizens to buy real estate.  In times of crisis or unusual economic conditions many of these funding sources tighten up and restrict or discontinue such loans.

It is important that you line up financing in advance of placing an offer on property to make sure that your loan can be approved and funded before the contract period expires.  Each lender will have their own particular requirements, application forms, and timing for approval.  Most lenders will have many different loan programs to choose from depending on your qualifications, the amount to be borrowed, and the terms of the loan.  Interest rates, down payments, fees, and credit standards can vary greatly among lenders so it pays to shop for the best loan.

Foreign buyers who have no established credit history in the United States won't be known to the three credit scoring services:  Equifax, Experian, and Trans-Union.  Without a credit score most lenders won't be able to process your loan, so alternative forms of credit will be needed to prove that you are a good risk.  Alternative credit can be letters or statements from previous lenders or other providers of services stating that you have a history of making monthly payments on-time and paying off loan balances when due.  Letters or statements can be from banks, other types of lenders, utility companies, telephone companies, cable television providers, retail stores, or any place that you bought a product or used a service in advance of paying for it.

Most United States based lenders will also want to have proof of your income and ability to make payments on the loan.  Salary or wage statements from an employer for the current year, income tax returns for the previous 2 or 3 years, and proof of stock dividends or interest earnings will be requested.

        Almost all banks and other lenders will require that the money (funds) you use for your down payment and closing costs be deposited in a United States bank for a specified length of time.  This is known as "seasoning the money."  If your money is not deposited in the lender's account they will ask for proof, in the form of bank statements, from the other bank where the money is located.  Sometimes it takes a few weeks to get this verification of deposit.  It is not unusual for a lender to require that your funds be seasoned for 2 to 3 months.  

An appraisal of the property you are purchasing will be required by the lender to make sure that the real estate or business is worth more than the amount you are borrowing.  The past and existing  title (ownership) will also be investigated to find out if there are any liens or claims against the property. In the case of real estate purchases an up-to-date survey of the property will also required.

         3. Escrow Account for Property Taxes and Insurance: 
If your down payment for the purchase of a home is not over 20% of the purchase price your lender will almost always require you to have an escrow account.  Along with your monthly payment of principal and interest on your loan, you will pay 1/12 (one-twelfth) of the yearly (annual) cost of property taxes and homeowner's insurance.  This account will accumulate the tax and insurance payments until the end of the year when the lender will forward the full payments to the appropriate local tax collector and your insurance company.

         Also, a lender may require a monthly payment of Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI) if your down payment is less than 20% of the purchase price.  In case of a land purchase, no insurance will be necessary unless there is a liability risk.

         If you buy a condominium, the exterior building maintence and insurance is included in the monthly association fee.  It is still wise to purchase liability insurance and personal property insurance to cover the interior and your personal possessions.

Live and Work in Florida

            We can help you buy a VISA Qualifying Business in Florida.  There are hundreds of businesses for sale in Florida.  It's a Buyer's Market with very advantageous exchange rates between the U.S. Dollar and the EURO and British Pound.

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         We have assisted persons from many countries Buy, Sell, or Lease (Rent) Homes, Condominiums, Land, Commercial Property, Retail Space, and Businesses.  Contact us for Brokerage, Consulting & Counseling Services.

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Race, Color, Religion, Sex (Gender), Handicap (Disability), Familial Status or National Origin.


Mark Cohen, Broker
Gainesville, FL  32653

Florida Licensed Real Estate Broker
352-373-3783  Office          352-222-5609  Cell


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