If you’re thinking about moving to the US, you’ll be aware just how many considerations there are – the actual buying of the property is one of the last things you’ll have to sort out!
Florida Realtor Laura Kijner has helped lots of people in their move to the US, and in this edition of ‘Ask the expert’, she explains some of the things you need to consider.
In the U.S., every state has different rules and regulations, so wherever you are looking to purchase a property, you should get the relevant information.
Investing or buying a vacation home abroad is quite different from actually moving and living overseas! Usually, people that have successfully moved to the U.S. have conducted their due diligences – they’ve gone to visit, they know the area, maybe they’ve been there for ten years for a month every year. Moving to the U.S. can be a long process. A lot of people don’t realise that getting the proper visa or even a green card is not an easy task.
Ask yourself the right questions
Do you already have the proper structures in place to facilitate your move and the acquisition of a property? Do you have a U.S. bank account? Do you have all the necessary funds available for an investment? How about currency conversion? Are you a cash buyer? If you need a loan, it’s probably best to check with your financial institution at home since, as a foreigner, you are unlikely to have collateral or a credit history in the U.S. You need to be ready, willing and able! And to be so, takes preparation.
Get to know the place and its people
Make sure it’s right for you and your family. Adapting to a new culture and environment takes time. You need to see yourself working and living there for the foreseeable future. If you are moving with your kids, you will need to think about schools and later colleges. Even to run the simplest errand, you are most likely to drive your car around. Do you have a driving license? Are you fine with driving at least an hour a day? Make sure you find a property in a neighbourhood you like, that is safe and convenient, a place where you can easily commute to and from work.
Drive, walk around, check various neighbourhoods, talk to some agents, talk to fellow expats who have moved to the U.S. and who will give you honest feedbacks, talk to an attorney, a wealth manager and a CPA about what’s involved – it’s about just getting that information.
Many foreigners do not know that dual agency is illegal in Florida. A real estate licensee may enter into a brokerage relationship either as a transaction broker – offering limited representation – or as a single agent with prospective buyers and sellers.
See a house you like? Go for it, whoever you’re signed up with
In the U.S., all real estate agents, with no exception, have the same access to the available properties in their market with the exact same conditions. As members of the Miami Association of Realtors, we offer access to the MLS (Multiple Listing System). The MLS is a tool where, in the words of the National Association of Realtors, brokers share information on properties they have listed and invite other brokers to cooperate in their sale in exchange for compensation if they produce the buyer. Sellers benefit by increased exposure to their property. Buyers benefit because they can obtain information about all MLS-listed properties while working with only one broker. Thus, it doesn’t matter where you find your dream property. Even if it’s not listed with the company you signed up with, your real estate agent will call the other agent and they will cooperate with each other to ensure a successful transaction.
The purchase of the property is the last thing we would take care of. You’re not going to put your trousers on when you’ve already put on your socks and your shoes!
Do things in the right order. If you are not ready to take the plunge yet, you can always sign up for listing alert emails on a realtors’ website – like this one. By signing up to alerts like this, you’ll get a good picture of a place’s real estate market – in this case, Miami – from prices to inventory and you will be able to monitor the changes over time. What you see today might not be available 6 months for now when you are actually ready to buy. Be informed!
Finally, there are many costs associated with the acquisition of a property. These costs depend on your own project, the selected property and its location, laws of the State of Florida, of the County and the City as well as on professionals and/or other providers you are likely to select from Attorney to CPA (Certified Public Accountant). Some fees are negotiable, other not. Some are recurring, other not. Most people are first time investors with very little knowledge of the acquisition and relocation process in the U.S. As a consulting firm, we are here to help and we offer tailored packages for a fee for those in need of full assistance.
Laura Kijner works with Kijner & Sons International Realty, which specialises in investment opportunities and income producing properties in South Florida.