By: Jules Schultz | AHWD, ABR, CNE, CRP, GRI

October 18, 2022

Here are some tips for international employees to use when looking to buy a home in the U.S.

Moving to a new country for a new job can be a lot of work. Preparing the family for the move, finding a place to live, ensuring all visa documents are accounted for, etc. There is a lot that goes into international relocation. As many people know, purchasing a home is one of the lengthiest parts of the relocation process. The home-buying process can be extended, and those not used to real estate regulations in the US will find it even more confusing. 

For those relocating to the US for a job on an H1-B visa or even those looking to buy a home to live in a while on a long-term international assignment, the standard process for buying a home in the US differs significantly from most countries in Asia or Europe. 

The first and most crucial step when preparing to move overseas is to review your international relocation package provided by your employer carefully. See what relocation benefits your new company offers, then ask how to utilize each. Many international relocation service providers will help companies create unique benefits for each transferee. And in most cases, relocation benefits include home-buying programs that can help in a significant way, both process-wise and financially. 

With that said, here are a few things to keep in mind when purchasing a home if you are relocating to the U.S. for work: 

Visa & Immigration Documents Needed to Buy a Home in the U.S.

Working with a full-service relocation management provider can help immensely with visa and immigration documentation. They can help you file for the proper visa, in turn, they can also help you with which immigration documents you will need to apply for mortgage approval when buying a home in the U.S. Each mortgage lender will have different requirements when filling out applications, but among the most common documents needs are: 

  • Valid foreign passport
  • U.S. visa and/or a driver’s license
  • Social security number or ITIN
  • Bank statements 
  • Financial documentation from your foreign bank
  • Evidence of reserves
  • Paycheck stubs
  • Tax return for the last two or three years

Can International Transferees Buy a Property without a US Credit Score?

Yes. International buyers are eligible for loans from U.S. mortgage providers even if they do not have a U.S. credit history. In some cases, lenders even offer special programs for immigrants and non-resident buyers with no credit to get a competitive rate still. And some relocation management companies work with lenders to set up specialized programs for H1-B and L-1 visa holders.

Next Steps After Mortgage Approval

Once the international transferee has been approved for a mortgage from a U.S. brokerage, they know their realistic budget. From there, they should work with a real estate agent specializing in relocation home purchases. These relocation preferred real estate agents will know how to handle the transaction regarding closing date, move-in date, days to close, and other aspects that might vary from an international move. 

Once a real estate agent is chosen, the transferee and agent can start working together on finding their dream home in the new destination. It’s worth checking your relocation package to see if your new company includes any house-hunting trips. These trips are usually a few days so that you can view homes with your real estate agent. It also serves as a time to check on international schools if relocating with children. 

Once a budget and area are set, then comes time to start putting offers on houses that are appealing. Your real estate agent will help you arrange a competitive bid on a property, then assist in negotiating with the seller for a final price. Remember that relocation packages will often include home-buying programs that can help with closing costs and commissions.

After the Offer is Accepted

If your offer is accepted and the home inspection goes well, you are ready to start your relocation process. The typical closing window for a home sale in the U.S. is about 30-45 days. Once all your visa and immigration paperwork is filed and accepted, you can work with your relocation service provider to begin scheduling movers to assist with getting your household goods to the new destination. A reputable global mobility provider will provide a relocation coach who can help you every step of the way through the moving process.

Keep Taxes Top of Mind

The home buying process in the U.S. might present a different variety of taxes compared to what you are used to in your country. A few tax regulations to keep in mind when closing on a home include Capital Gains Tax, Withholding Tax, and State Property Tax.

 Be sure to stay in the loop on all taxes due by asking your mortgage lender and real estate agent. If you are assigned a relocation expert to assist you in moving, they should have some insight into what taxes should be paid. They also might know of some tax breaks that can help you from buying a home.

GMS Can Help International Transferees Relocate

Global Mobility Solutions (GMS) specializes in helping corporations worldwide relocate their employees internationally. We help companies create competitive international relocation packages that attract top talent for open positions. From there, we assign a relocation coach to each transferee. 

This gives a single point of contact to each employee relocating. This relocation expert will help the employee handle all aspects of the relocation process, including getting them in touch with a relocation real estate agent. 

GMS only works with the top real estate agents across the U.S., and we ensure that all agents specialize in working with relocating families. Our expert relocation team also specializes in visa and immigration applications.  If you are ready to hear more about how GMS can help you with your global mobility needs, please reach out today to set up a free consultation.

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Vice President, Real Estate Services Jules has over 21 years of experience as a licensed Real Estate Agent and Broker with operational experience gained from areas throughout the United States. She has held leadership positions such as Broker of Record and Real Estate Specialist, Team Leader, and Branch Manager, and as well as owned her own real estate company, working on U.S. Domestic and Government accounts. As a Team Leader, Jules taught monthly classes in contract writing, and contract negotiating to hundreds of Real Estate Agents.

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