Many foreign investors I am working with are building real estate portfolios with properties from South Florida and elsewhere in the states. They are making advanced trips to find a group of professionals as their US Team. Those professionals include an attorney, accountant, property manager and an EXCLUSIVE BUYER BROKER.
Florida's real estate agents say: "Dear foreigners, it is the right time to buy a property in the Sunshine State!". It does not mean now or never but this kind of opportunity is better not to be missed! It is actually a double opportunity: prices are flat or declining and currency exchange is luring as foreign currencies are rising relative to the U.S. dollar. However, buying a bargain is not that simple. Visas, real estate regulations and currency rules are what every foreign buyer needs to be educated about to avoid mistakes. Nobody wants to be turned away at U.S. Customs or the bank. The U.S. government looks differently at a real estate transaction with a foreign individual or corporation involved.
There are three questions every foreigner should get the answers to. First of all, how to structure the purchase? Tax experts advise that because of real estate tax and other issues, a foreign buyer should hold the property in the name of a corporate entity. Secondly, how to finance the deal? After the mortgage crisis, lending institutions are no longer accommodating to foreign buyers. At best, they will get 50 to 60 percent financing from U.S. lenders. Thirdly, how to visit or manage the property? Generally speaking, after 9/11 the Unites States clamped down hard on visas. There are many types of them, which is the right one to obtain, it all depends how long the person wants to stay in the Unites States. The U.S. State Department provides basic visa definitions at http://www.travel.state.gov/visa/visa_1750.html that may help foreign buyers understand their basic options.
Complex rules and regulations as well as paperwork should not discourage a potential buyer. Foreign buyers can always bring in legal and tax consultants so that the deal is closed with a minimum of trouble.