Can foreigners buy land in America? Are there any restrictions?
It is very easy for any foreigner to buy land in America and it is the same process as for any US citizens buying land in USA.
USA does not require that a person be a US citizen to buy land. In most states
there are no restrictions at all.
Be careful though if you are looking to buy property in an housing association or a building condominium associations.
of them have rules that prohibit absentee owners. This is less likely to occur
with land and usually only happens with buildings.
US is thriving at the moment. People from all over the world can see the
booming stock market and booming real estate market and want to benefit as
The US has a stable real estate market with clear laws on ownership. Many countries around the world do not have this.
some foreigners have done well in business or in their career, they may want to
diversify in a great country like the USA or they may want some stability over
the currency by keeping some assets in USD.
Of course there are also huge foreign conglomerates and companies that seek to buy land in USA for the purposes of expanding their operations or agriculture in the USA.
Most people buy land with cash which makes buying land in USA a very easy process. Securing finance to buy land is challenging (for both US citizens and foreigners) by for reasons discussed in previous posts.
If you are buying a home, however and need to secure a mortgage, there will be some more stringent hoops for foreigners to jump through from the banks to secure financing.
When buying land as a foreigner, you may be able to enquire about whether owner financing is available. This will depend on the owner of the land if they wish to deal with foreigners or not.
If you are in this situation as a foreign buyer, it is always a good idea to try to arrange a call with the owner and explain your situation and try to establish trust and rapport.
finance situations are based on mutual trust. Most sellers are just trying to
ensure that they will be paid without any extra hassles.
Maybe you can suggest paying early each month or making a higher down payment or paying a higher monthly amount to sweeten the deal for the seller and make your proposal more attractive.
you are able to pay cash and wish go through title company and escrow- you
should have no trouble at all. The seller will know that the title company will
have cleared funds before closing the deal, so both sides are protected here.
By law, everyone who owns land needs to pay property taxes.
may be levied annually or quarterly by the county.
You must be able to receive statements in your home country. If for any reason you cannot receive statements in the post or your mail service is unreliable, you can always call the County Treasurer, ask what taxes are owing and pay over the phone.
you do not pay your property taxes, penalties and interest accrue and
eventually you may lose your land entirely.
process is identical for a foreigner as for a US citizen.
of the hunting occurs online.
You might choose to look at real estate agents websites or land investors websites or land auction websites.
your criteria in advance.
do you want land?
you want farming land?
be in the path of growth?
land to build on one day?
is easy, free and quick to browse the web and start to get a feel of pricing
and what is out there.
sure to get information on utilities, road access, property taxes, zoning
restrictions and topography.
you are after something specific that you cannot find, feel free to reach out
to a real estate agent or land investor and let them know what you want and see
if they are able to source it for you.
main problem is likely to be checking out the property.
on the land value, you could either:
is always a good idea to call the county planning department and chat through
your plans with them. You need to make sure that what you plan to do with the
land is permitted.
land seller will give you the zoning information eg commercial, agricultural or
residential- but a quick phone call if you have specific or unusual plans will
help avoid difficult situations down the track if there is a clause or a restriction
you were unaware of.
Most transacting online these days is very simple. Depending on the transaction value (like a down payment) most land sellers will accept credit card.
the bulk of the payment, you will make wire transfer or bank transfer. You will
be required to pay the bank fees for foreign transactions (typically $20-$35).
you go through a title company, the title company will record the new deed with
your details at the county and provide you a copy.
If you deal direct with the seller, once they receive final payment for the land, they will record the deed in your name at the county and provide you a copy. It can be posted to you, emailed to you or both.
As a foreigner, when you sell any land you bought in the United States, the sale is subject to the Foreign Investment in Real Property Tax Act of 1980 (FIRPTA) income tax withholding.
To ensure that taxes on the sale of the land are
collected from foreign taxpayers, FIRPTA requires those who buy land from
non-U.S citizens to withhold 10% of the sales price.
As the seller, you may apply to the Internal Revenue
Service (IRS) to reduce this 10% to the amount of tax estimated to be due. The
IRS routinely and quickly approves such applications from sellers.
You may want to hire a real estate attorney or a tax
professional CPA to help you better understand FIRPTA and how you can stay
compliant with the 10% tax withholding.
Some countries will have tax treaties set up with the
US, you will need to get individual advice.
If you aim to earn income from your land, you should
also consult a CPA tax professional as you may be required to file income
taxes. Again this will very on an individual basis.
Did you know that according to NPR in 2019 nearly 30 million acres of U.S. farmland are held by foreign investors?
April 2014-March 2015, foreigners purchased over $104 billion worth of land and
real estate in USA.
set a new record 8% of all existing home sales in the country.
Taiwan and Hong Kong bought $28.6 billion, Canadians bought $11 billion, India
bought $7.9 billion and the rest of the ownership was spread out across the
Nationwide, Canadian investors own the most farmland. According to the USDA report in 2000, foreign individuals and corporations owned 16 million acres (or 1.2 percent) of the 1.3 billion acres of privately
owned agricultural land.
However, with many US farmers approaching retiring
age, they are looking to be able to sell and retire over the next decade
however many of their children do not wish to take over the property and engage
in a farming career.
To be fair, U.S. farmers and corporations also invest in overseas agriculture, owning billions of dollars of farmland from Australia to Brazil.
The USA is an amazing place to buy land if you are a foreigner looking to diversify your portfolio away from your home country. It is simple and easy to do and online tools mean you can check the land out in very close detail very accurately before you buy.
We have many foreign buyers and can talk you through the process if you want to ask any questions via email or phone- get in touch
The USA is an amazing place to buy land if you are a US citizen and looking to one day build for retirement, diversify your portfolio, start a hobby farm or homestead. With the US being such an attractive place for foreign investment, make sure you buy your land before you get priced out.
Happy to help!