Buying Commercial Property in The United States As a Foreigner

Buying commercial property in the United States as a foreigner is easy and straightforward, with mortgage options available with no US credit to facilitate the process.

Buying Commercial Property in The United States As a Foreigner

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Making informed real estate decisions starts with having the right knowledge. At HomeAbroad, we offer US mortgage products for foreign nationals & investors and have a network of 500+ expert HomeAbroad real estate agents to provide the expertise you need. Our content is written by licensed mortgage experts and seasoned real estate agents who share insights from their experience, helping thousands like you. Our strict editorial process ensures you receive reliable and accurate information.

Yes, foreigners and non-US residents can buy a commercial property or any other real estate in the United States since there is no requirement for citizenship regarding real estate purchases.

Non-U.S. citizens can buy real estate in the United States because there is no requirement for citizenship regarding real estate sales.

Types of Properties a Foreigner Can Buy in the U.S.

The real estate market is mainly divided into two main categories:

  • Residential Property and Commercial Property

We’ll concentrate on getting commercial property in this article, but let us clarify the differences between both property types so that you can understand the distinctions.

Commercial Real Estate Property

Understanding the many kinds of commercial properties can assist you in making an informed decision about whether to invest in commercial real estate. Commercial buildings could be classified as follows:

  • Office buildings
  • Retail buildings
  • Multifamily apartments
  • Malls or Arcades
  • Office warehouses
  • Shopping center
  • Industrial building
  • Mixed-use building
Intended Use Among Foreign Buyers of US Commercial Property
Source: National Association of Realtors

Commercial Real Estate (or CRE) may be found in every hamlet and metropolis in the United States. Here are some popular destinations where foreigners purchase commercial property in US.

Top Destinations of Foreign Buyers of US Commercial Property
Source: National Association of Realtors

Residential Property

Some residential properties can be classified as follows:

  • Single-family houses
  • Multi-generational homes
  • Townhomes
  • Condominiums
  • Duplexes

Vacation homes are examples of residential properties. The house may be in a gated suburban development or a brownstone in the city.

If you are a foreigner and want to buy a house in the United States, you may either purchase an already finished home or acquire property on which to construct one.

Are you looking for a home while in the United States or even outside of the U.S? Working with a real estate agent would be ideal since they may conduct a virtual tour and answer any queries you have about the property or community.

Documents Needed in Buying Commercial Property in the US

ID Proof: such as a Passport, visa, Social Security Number (SSN), Individual Tax Payer Number (ITIN), a green card, or any other valid Identification

Address proof: You’ll usually have to produce documentation showing where you reside, such as a driver’s license or other official paperwork. If you wish to stay there, you’ll most likely be required to demonstrate your legal residency status.

Evidence of Income: You must show that you can afford to make payments to obtain a mortgage. This could include wage slips and tax returns.

Evidence of affordability: The lender will also want documentation of any outstanding debts or loans to determine if the mortgage is reasonable.

How to Buy a Property in The USA as a Foreigner

Purchasing property in the United States as a foreigner can be a daunting task. Several things must be taken into consideration before beginning the process.

  • You must have a valid passport, visa, or driver’s license from another country.
  • It would be helpful to have your overseas bank’s financial records, if applicable.
  • You will also need proof of reserves, pay stubs, and a credit score.
  • You will need to file a tax return.

While this may seem like a lot of work, the process can be made simpler with the help of a real CIPS estate agent who is experienced in handling these types of transactions.

If you’re thinking of investing in commercial real estate or buying commercial property in the United States, here are three steps you need to know:

Step 1: Do Your Research

It is essential to educate yourself on the different types of commercial property and what your investment strategy might be. For example, are you looking to buy an office building, a retail space, or an industrial property? Each property type has risks and rewards, so do all the necessary research before buying.

Step 2: Get Your Calculations Right

You will need to brush up on your math skills. When it comes to commercial real estate, the numbers are everything. Understand and interpret financial reports, balance sheets, and rent rolls. Otherwise, you could end up making a bad investment. Alternatively, you can also enlist the services of a CIPS real estate agent to assist you in better comprehending and explaining all of these concepts.

Step 3: Get Professional Help

It is a good idea to get some professional help. Working with a broker specializing in commercial real estate can make finding and buying property much more accessible. To ensure the most excellent service and support, use a trusted CIPS (Certified International Property Specialist) agent to help you find what you need.

An excellent CIPS agent can assist you both in creating and accepting an offer and choosing the right property for you to invest in. Moreover, the international expertise allows them to smoothen your US property-purchase process. They know the nitty-gritty details and can guide you through the process.

Find the best real estate agent with international expertise

Connect with a HomeAbroad real estate agent in your area.

Step 4: Make an Offer

After you have found a perfect commercial property for you, all you have to do is write up an offer with the agent to the person selling the property to you.

During this whole procedure, your agent will act as your guide. It covers everything from putting down a deposit on the house to signing the contract.

Step 5: Complete the Payments

After acquiring the property, you may pay your due diligence fees through whichever payment method you choose, such as a check or cash. But before you move in, you should discuss with your CIPS agent a basic inspection of the property.

Step 6: Close the Deal

Several days before closing, your lender will notify you of the charges and payment schedule if you have taken a mortgage. After the lender accepts your application, you’ll need to pay all associated costs, any taxes, and your down payment during a closing meeting. You’re the owner of the property now after everything is finished!

Benefits of Investing in a Commercial property

Benefits of Investing in a Commercial property
Source: Nareit
Here are some benefits of investing in a commercial property:

High rental income

Before purchasing a property, you must first calculate its price and value.

The lease agreement contains a provision for yearly raises regardless of market conditions, as opposed to a residential property. As a result, commercial real estate returns are assured.

Investing in commercial property results in a substantial rental yield of up to 8% to 12%, three times greater than the average rental yield for residential estates, around 1-2%.

If you’re searching for a business site in an excellent or fancy location, you might be able to gain at least 13 to 15 percent of your profits.

Long-term returns

People leasing or buying a commercial property is usually done for a lengthy time, if not for multiple years. A more extended occupancy of the tenants will provide you with more consistent revenue and is an excellent source of investment.

The minimum tenure on leasing a commercial property is five years. While the duration of your lease with a developer is at least ten years, and for the ten years or so, the developer or owner is positive of consistent returns.

Increased property value over time

As opposed to other property sorts, commercial real estate has a greater appreciation rate over a more extended period. So, if you’re looking to retire in the next decade, investing in a high-quality commercial property through a REIT or fractional ownership may provide attractive returns while requiring much less and inexpensive investment.

And since investing in commercial properties can help you get better rental yields in the future. This is because when someone buys a commercial property, it often creates jobs and more business activity in the area, leading to increased demand for rentals. As a result, stores, businesses, banks, and corporations in high-rent neighborhoods are far more likely to attract additional tenants.

Less furnishing cost

Unlike a residential estate, you can save money on everyday household items like kitchen cabinets and electrical equipment, which adds to the property’s overall value.

As the landlord, you can lease the property to any business. Many tenants will want to renovate and rebrand the basic unit of the property, their company image, or brand.

A commercial property with excellent vehicle parking is a plus if you lease it to a business. You may lease the property “as is” for commercial enterprises who transform it to fit their designs.

Professionalism

Generally, the people who rent commercial property are businesses you can trust and behave professionally.

Major Tax Implications for a U.S. Non-Citizen on Buying a Property

The Foreign Investment in Real Property Tax Act (FIRPTA) of 1980 was passed by Congress to tax foreign persons who sell or acquire a U.S. real property interest. The most important thing to know about buying real estate as a non-citizen outside the United States is that IRS Publication 515 summarizes the regulations for non-resident aliens (NRA).

Tax Rates

The highest income earned in a given year (excluding capital gains) is taxed at a flat rate of 30% unless a tax treaty makes another rate applicable. Non-resident aliens must file and pay any tax due using Form 1040NR, U.S. Nonresident Alien Income Tax Return, or Form 1040NR-EZ, U.S.

Deduction in taxes

Suppose a foreigner owns or holds interest in property located in the U.S. for the production of income. In that case, the NRA can treat all income from that property as income effectively connected with a trade or business in the U.S. If you choose this option, all income from real estate in the United States would be impacted. If this happens, individuals can take deductions for real property income on their taxes, making the money taxable.

1040NR

If the 871(d) election is made, the NRA must submit a timely 1040NR tax return to disclose real estate income and any withholding related to it. Foreign persons must first obtain a U.S. Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN) to file a tax return.

Helpful Read: Tax Strategies for Foreign Investors in US Real Estate

Getting a Mortgage in The U.S. as a Non-US Citizen

Commercial property can be purchased using a mortgage loan for a U.S. non-citizen. Although obtaining a mortgage in the United States might be a bit complex for a foreigner. Because you won’t have a local credit history in the United States, you might not be approved for a mortgage because you won’t meet the credit score requirement needed to get a loan in the United States.

Non-US permanent residents with a green card may find it more challenging to qualify for a loan than non-permanent residents who do not. If you live outside of the United States, getting financing in the United States is difficult but not impossible.

Here's how Foreign National Loan (FNL) can help you apply for a loan being a U.S. non-citizen:

Since non-citizens cannot get a local mortgage loan in the United States because they do not have a green card, they can apply for an FNL loan and work with the U.S. government to obtain funding.

A foreign national mortgage loan, also known as a non-permanent resident alien loan, is a type of financing that allows non-residents of the United States to buy property in the United States.

Because you do not have a credit history report or fulfill the criteria for eligibility, such as employment and residency in the United States, lenders are more hesitant to approve a loan.

You must consider applying for a Foreign National Loan if you’re a foreigner.

Requirements for a Mortgage for a foreigner

To qualify for a mortgage, you must fulfill certain criteria for foreigners and U.S. citizens.

Requirements include:

  • It would be best if you had a minimum credit score of 620 or higher (No US credit mortgages are also available)
  • You must be able to pay a 20% down payment
  • You need a valid Social Security Number (SSN) or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN)
  • You must have a job paying you for at least three years with a secured source of income
  • You must live in the U.S. for at least two years
  • You must have some working experience in the U.S. for at least two years

How to Apply for a Commercial Property Mortgage Loan as a U.S. Non-Citizen

Here is the step-by-step process for your commercial property mortgage application.

  • Step 1 – Estimate your budget
  • Step 2 – Obtain Mortgage Pre-approval for your foreign national mortgage
  • Step 3 – Prepare your documents for a foreign national home loan
  • Step 4 – Choose your property and make an offer
  • Step 5 – Finalize your foreign national mortgage loan application
  • Step 6 – Lock the interest rate on your mortgage loan
  • Step 7 – Mortgage Loan Processing and Underwriting
  • Step 8 – Conduct Property Appraisal
  • Step 9 – Prepare for Closing

Conclusion

So, if you are a foreigner or non-U.S. resident looking to buy property in the United States, don’t be discouraged – it is possible! The process may be more complicated than for U.S. citizens, but plenty of resources are available to help you through it. HomeAbroad is one of them. We connect with you with the right real estate agent with international expertise and lenders who cater to foreigners to make your purchase easy.

Find the best real estate agent with international expertise

Connect with a HomeAbroad real estate agent in your area.

FAQs

Can I get a U.S. green card if I own property?

No. Buying a house in the United States cannot acquire a green card. In reality, owning real estate does not generally provide you with any visa or other immigration perks. To obtain an appropriate visa or residency status, you must apply for it independently from the property purchase procedure.

What type of commercial investment property is most profitable?

Property that brings the highest yields is usually rented with high rents. This property consists of R.V. Parks, apartment complexes housing students, office spaces, or storage units.

Can a non-US citizen make a commercial real estate purchase in the U.S.?

Yes, anybody can buy a house in the United States, whether they have U.S. citizenship or not. Even non-citizens who need a mortgage may do so. However, as a non-citizen, you will be subject to more complicated tax laws. 

Can foreigners get mortgages in the U.S.?

Although obtaining a mortgage in the United States might be a bit complex for a foreigner. Because you won’t have a local credit history in the United States, you must consider applying for a Foreign National Loan if you’re a foreigner. A foreign national mortgage loan, also known as a non-permanent resident alien loan, is a type of financing that allows non-residents of the United States to buy property in the United States.
Guide to Foreign National Mortgage Loans with No US Credit

What is a CCIM?

To become a commercial real estate investor, you can consider getting your CCIM designation. CCIM stands for Certified Commercial Investment Member, and it’s a designation that is well-respected in the industry. To get your CCIM designation, you’ll need to take a course and pass an exam.

About the author:
Michele Lawrie, a seasoned real estate professional licensed in New York and Florida, serves as the Chief Real Estate Officer at HomeAbroad. With over 15 years of experience and specialized certifications from the NAR (National Association of Realtors), Michele is a trusted expert for foreign nationals buying US real estate.

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