Welcome to America, we’re glad you’re here. It’s part of the American identity to own your own home. And it’s not hard to do, but there are some things that you’ll need to do before you can move in. There are a few extra steps that you’ll need to take that US-born citizens don’t have.
- Identity - You will need to make sure that you have all of your identity papers in order, including your Individual Taxpayer Identification Number. You don’t have to be a citizen, but you will need to have this number. You’ll also need a passport and at least two other current forms of photo identification. You will want to understand your visa and how long you can stay if you’re not naturalized or don’t have a green card.
- Mortgage - You can borrow the money you need to buy a house, but there are requirements that the lender will have. These usually include having a US bank account and credit cards so you have a credit history. You will also need to supply them with your tax returns to show that you make enough money to pay them back.
- CIPS - Look for a Realtor who is a Certified International Property Specialist. They are real estate professionals that are trained to help you negotiate the ins and outs of purchasing a house in the US as a foreigner.
- Relax - Americans are very casual about buying and selling real estate. In fact, it's expected that everyone will do it as some point in their lives. This is different from much of the world where it’s rare and a huge deal. Don’t worry that everyone seems very laid back about it all.
- Plan your money - Make sure that you plan for your expenses, like the mortgage, but also property taxes, maintenance, home insurance, and more. Having this plan calculated ahead of time will make it easier for you know how much home you can afford.
- Familiar help - Look for a real estate agent, home inspector, mortgage broker, and more that speak your language. Working with people in your own language will make this big step a lot less stressful. If your command of English is great, it won’t matter, but very often you’ll find it helpful to have people you can speak to in your own tongue.
- Mind the measurements - In the US, everyone thinks in inches, pounds, dollars, etc. The rest of the world is on the metric system. There’s a huge difference between one Euro versus one dollar or one yard versus one meter. Make sure that you’re making those conversions so that you aren’t surprised later.
Again, thanks for being here in the US. We love that you’re here. Enjoy your new home and congratulations on being a homeowner.