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August 19, 2006 4:48 PM   Subscribe

PropertyFilter: Can a non-resident own a home in the United States?

I'm currently living and working in the United States via a 1 year work visa. I am Canadian. I would like to buy a house or condo to live in, but when I leave the country, would I be required to sell it? I would prefer to keep it and rent it out, or perhaps use it as a vacation property. I don't know where to start to find out the legal issues. Can you help me?
posted by blue_beetle to Law & Government (11 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
It's pretty simple. Go ahead and buy it. If you decide to rent it otu, there are some IRS forms you'll need. I don't think it's any more ocmplex than that, based on my boss' recent acquisition of US property.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 4:56 PM on August 19, 2006

Any body with money to buy property and pay real estate taxes can buy a piece of America. But renting property in a country you don't live in, if it is only a single piece of property, is usually more trouble than it is worth, and a losing financial proposition.
posted by paulsc at 5:00 PM on August 19, 2006

I think the most difficult part would be getting a mortgage, assuming you would need one. Consider that you have less than a year in credit history in the US.
posted by smackfu at 5:10 PM on August 19, 2006

Blue Beetle- a qualified real-estate agent can help you. You can own a home in the U.S., but you have certain residency requirements. You will have to travel back to Canada and re-enter the country every so often. It's not uncommon for non-residents to have vacation homes or real estate investments.

I don't know what you do, but you can look into NAFTA careers. I know that certain professions can work without applying for VISAs, if you need to get a work permit. I'm not sure, but systems analysts are probably included.
posted by gesamtkunstwerk at 5:22 PM on August 19, 2006

Best answer: Getting a mortgage is not an obstacle. I got a mortgage on a TN visa with less than a year's US credit history.

Do you own property in Canada? If you don't own property in Canada, then I wouldn't buy in the US to use the property as a vacation home. You should have a primary home in Canada before you have a vacation home elsewhere. You could potentially have issues re-entering the US in the future if you are claiming to enter the country temporarily as a tourist but you only own property in the US.
posted by crazycanuck at 5:25 PM on August 19, 2006

Think of all those snowbirds in Florida! I'm sure that many of them own the property they go south to every winter. Possibly it's easier in some states than in others.

Check with a licenced real-estate person in the area you wish to move to. They'll know where to look for these laws and requirements
posted by cathoo at 5:27 PM on August 19, 2006

Best answer: Residency is not a requirement. My wife bought a home here before she had her Green Card, no problems.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 5:34 PM on August 19, 2006

Can an American own property in Canada?
posted by Kraftmatic Adjustable Cheese at 6:05 PM on August 19, 2006

Best answer: But bear in mind you might have to pay US withholding tax if you sell.
posted by TheRaven at 7:11 PM on August 19, 2006

yes, you can. I did while on an F-1 student visa and I sold it while on an O-1.

before anyone thinks I was a rich trustfund kiddo: no, I simply had no credit history here, so I took out a loan in germany, bought a house with it here (currency fluctuation is a good reason to transfer it all at once) and used it as collateral with the banks here. I was lucky the market in LA started booming like crazy when I sold it two years later, it cancelled out pretty much all the added hit I had expected to take.
posted by krautland at 9:35 PM on August 19, 2006

Can an American own property in Canada?

i've heard that some provinces put limits on how much you can own, but i don't know the details ... someone told me that you can't have more than 40 acres in ontario ...

i'm not big on details about foreigners owning property in the u s a, but many do and i don't think there's a lot of rules or red tape involved in it ... if you're allowed in the country and have the money you can buy what you want
posted by pyramid termite at 7:43 AM on August 20, 2006

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