The Real Estate Encyclopedia
Realtors use new visa types to open doors for foreign buyers
Category - Real Estate Information Sources - Real Estate Information General
WASHINGTON – May 15, 2009 – Citizens of other countries represent an important segment of the U.S. home buying market, and now new special visa categories that allow foreign nationals to gain U.S. residency can help facilitate that process. By using these visa categories correctly, Realtors® will be able to help many more buyers from overseas purchase property in the U.S.

Toward this end, Realtors from across the country met Thursday with experts in immigration issues and international economics during the joint International and Resort and Second Home Real Estate Forums at NAR’s Realtors Midyear Legislative Meetings & Trade Expo.

“We know that business of real estate today is truly borderless, and the National Association of Realtors has recommended steps toward facilitating and streamlining international real estate transactions for some time,” says NAR President Charles McMillan. “Knowing how to properly apply immigration rules can help Realtors add value to international property transactions, benefiting both domestic sellers and international buyers.”

International real estate purchases in the U.S. continue to be a significant share of business for many Realtors, according to the 2008 NAR Profile of International Home Buying Activity. Of the Realtors surveyed for the profile, 26 percent served international clients in the past year and about half of those clients purchased a home.

Recent research conducted by the Harris Research Group for NAR reveals that 7.1 percent of potential overseas buyers surveyed would definitely or possibly consider a retirement location in the U.S. This equates to a market in excess of one million potential buyers, according to real estate economist and author John Tuccillo, who spoke to the forum.

Stephen H. Davis, a leading immigration attorney, explained how various U.S. visa programs, including the E-2, EB-5 and L-1 visas, help foreigners purchase homes in the U.S.

“These different visa programs will help attract individual investors from other countries,” Davis says. “One long-term visa program helps investors attain a conditional lawful permanent residence status by investing $500,000 in a limited partnership at various government-maintained regional centers. Another program involves an investment of $l million to create 10 new full-time positions for U.S. workers.”

There are also visas for people who manage various types of enterprises and businesses in the U.S., including rental properties, condominiums and franchises; people in the export and import business; and foreign executives who manage U.S. subsidiaries of foreign companies. All can facilitate international investment in U.S. real estate. Realtors can help their international clients buy second homes, vacation or future retirement homes by knowing how to use the appropriate special visa categories.

“NAR research shows the increasingly international nature of real estate markets and how foreign buyers are responding to opportunities to acquire homes in this country,” says Davis. “After all, a piece of America is worth its weight in gold, and buyers from overseas recognize this. Understanding how the visa categories work can be a useful tool for Realtors in unlocking this important new market segment.”

Real Estate Information Sources - Real Estate Information General
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