International

US real estate: A minefield of money traps for foreign buyers

Tips for working with homebuyers from overseas
  • You should have all of your clients visit with a CPA or tax attorney who has experience in working with foreign buyers before making a purchase.
  • The PATH legislation makes significant changes to how real estate investment trusts are governed and to FIRPTA.
  • Remember: It is illegal for you to provide tax advice.

As negative interest rates become more prevalent internationally, and currencies in many countries are being devalued, an increasing number of foreign buyers are looking for a haven for their money, particularly one that generates a return. Purchasing property in the U.S. continues to be one of the most desirable ways for these buyers to achieve that goal, whether it's for their children to attend school here, a personal residence or for their investment portfolio. Unfortunately, purchasing in the U.S. is fraught with financial pitfalls for the unwary foreign buyer. According to Real Capital Analytics, foreign buyers invested $80 billion in U.S. real estate, representing about 16 percent of the total investment sales in 2015. If the current trend continues, that number will be even higher in 2016. What every foreign buyer should do first Working with foreign buyers is an entirely different game from working with American citizens or with those who are permanent U.S. residen...