There are a lot of myth floating around the internet in regards of foreign nationals purchasing properties in Florida.
Here are some facts:
1) Foreign Nationals can purchase property in Florida the same way any American Citizen can. No Visa, no Greencard, no social security number is required. However purchasing a property will not have any influence on your immigration status. You can come to the US on vacation – even multiple times a year – as you were able before. To see how long you can stay in the US you might need to check on the rules for your individual country. For most countries the 90 day rule applies. If you are interested in staying longer there are several visa options open to you. You might want to contact an immigration attorney who can discuss those options with you.
2) There are NO special taxes if a Foreign National purchases properties in Florida. The property you are purchasing in Florida will be your second home and treated as a second home as well. You will not be able to apply for Homestead Exemption (which is a property tax exemption for primary residents only), but American Citizens who are purchasing a second home can not do that either
3) If you sell your property in Florida, you will have to follow Firpta rules:
You will need to apply for a US Federal TAX ID number! When you sell the IRS will withhold 15% of the purchase price. – This is not a Tax, it is a withholding. You then need to contact a CPA who will file a voluntary tax return for you. Depending on how much profit you make in selling the property, the actual tax will be calculated and you will receive a refund (most of the time a major refund) from the IRS. There are a few exemptions – if the buyer (or a family member) of your property will live in the property for more than 50% of the time the property is occupied and your property is selling for below $ 300,000 you as the foreign national seller will be exempt from Firpta. Buyer will have to sign an affidavit.
If your property sells for 300,000 – 1 Mio and the buyer signs the affidavit (see above) the Firpta Withholding will be reduced to 10% of the purchase price.
Properties selling for above 1 Mio – no exemption.
If you are a foreign national living in the US with Greencard or visa you will not fall under the Firpta rule. – No Firpta due.
If you own your US property through a US Corporation and this corporation has more than 1 member, you might be exempt from Firpta as well.
For all questions in regards to Firpta please contact your US CPA or https://firptasolutions.com/
4) A Foreign National can finance a home in Florida. Normally there is a 25 – 35 % Down payment required, proof of income, reference letters from the home country (for example tax accountant, bank, …), 6 month bank statements and for some countries also a copy of a credit report from the home country if available. Not all banks will finance foreign nationals but a few have good foreign national programs again. TIB Bank and Busey Bank will do foreign national loans and Kirstin Paul is a mortgage broker who is specialized in foreign national loans and can go “mortgage shopping” for the best program for you : Financing Foreign Nationals
5) You can purchase insurance in Florida which covers Hurricanes and Flood. Costs vary but they are NOT astronomical expensive.
Before you buy please be aware that there are certain costs in connection with the property (like in any other country)
In Florida you have to run the Air condition pretty much all year around. The AC is not only to cool the property, but mainly it will take the humidity out of the air and will avoid mold build up. Also if you have a pool, the pool pump has to run as well. Even for the time you are not here, you can not disconnect the power.
In Florida everything growth fast and that includes your lawn. Specially in the summer month you will have to have your lawn cut once a week.
If you home has a pool, you will have to have a pool service to check chemicals and clean once a week, unless you have a salt water system. A salt water system pool does not require intensive care
Property Taxes are paid once a year. Taxes vary in area, age and size of the house
You can purchase Home Owners Insurance which will include Wind/Hurricane. In addition you can purchase flood insurance depending on the area your property is located in.
Property Manager/Home Watch
If you are not here, you will need a property manager or a home watch company to look after your property
There are a few companies who offer vacation home services, that means you can turn it on when you are here and turn it off when you leave. With that you don’t have to pay for the service while you are gone. Comcast and Prism offer those vacation services in SW Florida
What else you might want to know
– Real Estate commission in SW Florida is being paid by the seller for both agents (seller’s agent and buyer’s agent)
– All Realtors have access to the MLS System (Central Data Base) where all available properties are searchable. That means all Realtors have access to all properties no matter which company has the properties listed. With this said, you can pick an Agent you like and this Agent can help you to find your Dream Home. You do not have to go from Agent to Agent.
– Most of the closing costs (except your finance costs) are being paid by the seller. (Unless otherwise agreed on) – this is true for Lee County, Florida and varies from County to County
Please let me know if you have any questions
English and German
Century 21 Sunbelt
Quality Service Award
CIPS (Certified International Property Specialist)
Phone: 239 823 9683
725 Cape Coral Parkway West
Cape Coral, Florida, 33914
Fax: 239 542 8819
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