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Buying property in the USA

If you’re planning on purchasing a US property, this guide can help you navigate the American real estate market with confidence.

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Thinking of purchasing a property in the USA?

The USA offers exciting opportunities for those considering buying property, whether you want to settle in the States or invest in a thriving market. From some of the world’s largest cities to small towns set in wild landscapes, the diversity of options caters to a range of tastes.

As exciting as it is, navigating a property purchase in the USA requires careful consideration and planning. Understanding the process is crucial for making informed decisions and ensuring everything goes smoothly.

In this guide, we'll walk you through the essential steps involved in buying property in the USA, from exploring your options to securing favourable exchange rates when you send money overseas.

The process of buying a property in the USA.

Buying property in the USA involves several key steps. Here's a brief outline of the main stages you’ll go through when purchasing American real estate as a foreign buyer.

Budget and finance

Sort out your budget and financing, remembering to factor in extra costs. If you're not a resident, note that the mortgage process could be more complicated.

Start your property search

You can find properties yourself online, but a trusted real estate agent can be invaluable. They can connect you with properties and help you further down the line.

Consider additional advice

As a foreign buyer, you might want an independent lawyer, financial advisor, or tax expert to guide you through the rules and requirements.

Make an offer

When you find a property, it’s time to negotiate with the seller on the price and terms. You’ll sign a sale agreement and likely pay an ‘earnest money’ deposit.

Complete your checks

With the offer accepted, you’ll carry out checks and appraisals to make sure the property meets your expectations and there aren’t any issues.

Close the sale

Finally, you’ll pay any outstanding fees and taxes, along with your down payment, during a closing meeting. Congratulations, you now own an American property!

Best places to buy property in the USA.

The USA is the fourth-largest country in the world with a hugely diverse landscape, so picking out the best places to buy property is tricky. However, here are some popular locations for you to consider.

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Florida

Florida’s subtropical climate and scenic beaches make it a favourite among retirees. This also means it could be a safe bet for an investment.

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California

The home of Silicon Valley, Hollywood and San Francisco, California is a great state to buy in, with a thriving local economy.

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Texas

Texas boasts warm weather, friendly locals, and plenty of job opportunities. Houston, Dallas, and Austin regularly top the lists of best places to live.

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Hawaii

Property in Hawaii is expensive, but it can also be highly profitable. And who hasn’t dreamt of a relaxing retirement on a beautiful Hawaiian beach?

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New York

The USA’s most iconic city is a popular destination for global property investors. Meanwhile, the suburbs are more affordable and family friendly.

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Colorado

Colorado is considered a wonderful place to live or own a real estate investment. Boulder, Denver and Colorado Springs are all excellent options.

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Save money on currency transfers when buying a property in the USA.

However you plan to finance your property purchase, you’ll probably need to send money to the US. When you do, it’s vital that you secure a strong exchange rate to get the most from your money.

Here at Currencies Direct, we offer highly competitive exchange rates, so you could get more than if you chose to transfer with your bank. In addition, we don’t charge transfer fees and there are no hidden costs.

We can also help you time your transfer for when the currency market is in your favour. We’ll send you updates and insights, and you can use our range of transfer options to target the best possible exchange rate.

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Simplifying the buying process.

Buying a property abroad can seem complex, but we can help make the money transfer side of the purchase go smoothly.

With a Currencies Direct account you can check live rates, track transactions, and transfer money 24/7 online or in our app. You can also hold currency on account, which can help streamline and speed up future payments.

All the while you’ll have your own personal account manager. They’re always on hand to help, guiding you through your options, answering your questions, and supporting you in any way they can.

Create a Currencies Direct account.

Thinking about buying property abroad? Create a free Currencies Direct account in minutes. You can then start sending money overseas or talk through your transfer needs with a friendly currency expert.

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The costs of buying a property in the USA.

There are various fees and charges associated with buying a property in America, and the rules can vary significantly from state to state, but here’s an outline of the key costs.

Down payment

The down payment is essentially a deposit, and it’s the main cost of buying a US property. It’s usually from 3% to 20% of the property’s value.

Closing costs

Coming in at around 2% to 5% of the property’s value, closing costs may include things such as appraisal fees, transfer taxes and title insurance.

Other fees

There may also be other costs, such as inspection fees, local taxes, or the cost of hiring an independent legal or financial advisor.

Ongoing expenses

In addition to bills, mortgage payments and travel expenses, you may need to pay an annual property tax, which depends on your property’s location and value.

Finding a property in the USA

Searching for a property in the US is similar to the UK. You can find properties yourself online or contact a local real estate agent for help.

Property websites

There are plenty of online platforms and portals you can use to search for property. You can browse based on different criteria, and detailed descriptions and photos make it easy to compare properties.

Real estate agents

The other option is to contact local real estate agents. They can offer an in-depth knowledge of the area you’re interested in, along with valuable insights and access to off-market listings.

Moving into your American property.

After successfully purchasing your property in the USA, there are some crucial steps to take before you move into your new home.

Documentation

Gather all the essential paperwork you’ll need, including your passport, visa, and any documents relating to your new property.

Shipping

Work with a reputable relocation company to ship over any items. You’ll need to make sure everything complies with US customs laws.

Pets

If you want to bring a pet, they’ll need to meet certain criteria, such as being microchipped and having recent vaccinations.

Healthcare

You’ll need to arrange healthcare cover in the US. This may be through your employer, or you might have to get private insurance.

Utilities

Make sure your utilities are all connected before you make the move, otherwise you could find yourself without water or electricity.

Finances

Consider opening a US bank account, and think about any future currency transfers, tax implications or investments that could impact you.

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Seamless spending with our multi-currency card.

When you’re travelling in the US, or perhaps back visiting the UK after you’ve moved across the pond, you’ll want a simple way to handle payments and cover everyday living costs.

That’s where our multi-currency card comes in. You can top up your digital GBP and USD wallets when the exchange rate is strong and spend seamlessly wherever Mastercard is accepted. We have other currency wallets available too, or you can convert currency on the spot.

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Selling a property in the USA.

Someday the time may come to sell your property in the USA. Here’s a general outline of the sales process.

Prepare for the sale

Get your property ready to go on the market. You may want to declutter, redecorate, make some repairs, and spruce up your garden.

Seek financial advice

Selling your US property can come with some tricky tax laws, such as FIRPTA. Having a financial advisor on side can help you navigate potential challenges.

Choose an agent

While you can sell your house on your own, using a good real estate agent can significantly simplify and speed up the process.

Negotiating offers

Review your offers and be prepared to negotiate on price and terms. You may also want to fill out a Seller’s Disclosure to be completely transparent with potential buyers.

Accepting an offer

When you accept an offer, you’ll sign the sales contract and receive a deposit. The buyer will then arrange the property inspection and appraisal.

Close the sale

Once the checks are complete, you’ll sign the necessary documents, pay the closing costs, and close the sale.

Get started today

Create a free Currencies Direct account to access excellent exchange rates, expert insights, and outstanding customer support.

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Frequently asked questions about buying a property in the USA.

Tax rates vary by location and property value. Common taxes include property transfer tax and recording fees, typically ranging from 2% to 5%.

You’ll also be liable for an annual property tax, which again will depend on the value and location of the property but can range anywhere from 0.3% to over 2%.

Yes, rules around buying US property can vary from state to state. Each state has its own laws governing real estate transactions, including things like property taxes and contract requirements. It's essential you understand the specific regulations in the state where you plan to purchase property.

You don’t need an American bank account to buy property in the USA, but it could help you organise your finances, particularly if you plan on moving there.

Yes, many US banks offer mortgages to foreign buyers. However, it can be trickier to secure a loan. For example, you may have to pay a large down payment and you might face higher interest rates.

The amount of time the process takes depends on a range of things, including the details of the sale, how you’re financing it, and other variables. Expect the whole process to take around two to six months if everything goes to plan.

There are no additional legal requirements for foreigners purchasing US real estate. However, you may need to obtain an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) either as part of the sale or after the sale is complete.

The exchange rate you’ll receive when sending money to the USA depends on a variety of things, including who you transfer with, how much you send, and when you make the transaction.

At Currencies Direct we always try to get you the best possible deal. We offer highly competitive exchange rates and we can help you time your transfers for when the market is in your favour.

Yes, with Currencies Direct you can use a forward contract to secure an exchange rate for up to a year ahead of making a transfer.

The biggest risk to your currency transfer is that the exchange rate will change and negatively impact how much you receive.

Using a forward contract can mitigate this risk, as you’ll know exactly how much you’re going to get when you exchange GBP for USD.

It’s also best to plan your currency transfer well in advance and get specialist support from your Currencies Direct account manager. We can guide you through your options and find ways to protect your transfer from volatility.

Yes, you can set up regular international payments through your Currencies Direct account, with the option to pay monthly or quarterly. You can even combine a forward contract with your regular payments so that you can budget with confidence.