Quick Foreign Buyer's Facts


In the US, it is wisest to work with one professional broker during your search. Brokers are required to share listings, so a good buyer broker can get you in to see any apartment on the market. Committing to one broker will ensure that you get the highest service level you expect, as all the broker's attention will be on you and your search.

  • Foreign buyers are restricted to buying condominiums and single or multi-family homes. Co-ops generally prohibit foreign ownership unless the buyer's assets and primary source of income is in the US.
  • Commissions are always paid by the seller. The commission is evenly divided between the buyer and seller's brokers, so buyers don't pay anything to have an agent working on their behalf.

Foreign Buyer Process

  • First you should do some homework using our website. We advise that you read our informative guidebooks: Foreign Buyer's Guide, Cost Components of Investment, Tax & Legal FAQ and Answers as well as blogs on related topics. That will give you a better understanding of the types of properties out there, help you fine-tune the type you want, and familiarize you with the buying process. Next, we discuss your case with our attorneys and mortgage brokers via email or a conference call.
  • Once we understand your property requirements (size, price, neighborhoods), we will present you with only the properties that we think will be most suited to you. Feel free to sift through listings yourself and let us know which ones you like best. Working together we will come up with a short list of properties for you to see. Most of our buyers see between 10 and 25 apartments.
  • Next, you will fly to the US, where you will receive first-class service for the duration of your property visits. We will collect you from your hotel or the airport and accompany you on a chauffeured driven tour of the city, taking you to see all the shortlisted properties and providing color on the local area in terms of property values and character. We will arrange meetings with our attorneys, as well as HSBC or other bankers, should uou chose to secure a loan.
  • We will provide all the relevant information for you to make an educated purchase decision and negotiate the transaction on your behalf. Your NYC attorney, whom we can recommend, will have 7 days for due diligence at which time a binding 10% deposit will be due to secure the deal. Unlike NYC, in Miami the 10% deposit is made at the time of the offer, making the offer binding. If purchasing with a mortgage, the buyer will submit the pre-approval letter with the offer. Some owners may not accept financing contingencies for foreigners, although some will.
  • Both condos and co-ops require board approval. This includes submitting to credit and criminal checks. For co-ops, a live interview is also requried (condos don't require this). Once the board waives its "right of first refusal", in other words, approves the purchaser, then the closing can be scheduled.
  • Within 45 to 60 days of the accepted offer, the deal closes (or is settled) and monies and title are exchanged, Remember, at this point you as the buyer won't pay us anything, as the seller always pays the commission in the US.
Post Closing Property Management

For our clients that are interested in renting out their new property, we will source and screen tenants and provide light property management services at no cost to the owner in NYC. In NYC, tenants will pay the commission to find an apartment and in Miami, the owner will pay 10% of the annual rent to find a tenant.

Closing Costs

Comibined transfer taxes (i.e stamp duty, mansion tax, etc), attorney fees, title transfers, and other closing costs generally  run at 3.5% of the purchase price without a mortgage. An additional 2% of the mortgage amount should be expected for mortgage recording tax. In new developments, it is practice for the buyer to pay the developer's transfer taxes of approximately 1.8%.


Financing is Readily Available for Foreign Buyers

  • 30% Minimum downpayment
  • $3 million maximum mortgage amount, which translates to a property value of $4.3 million
  • $100000 on deposit from HSBC
  • 12 months reserves (mortgage payment, common charge, and taxes) are required to be on deposit (in addition to the $100000 above)

HSBC retail bank offers 30-year and 15-year fixed rate mortgages and Adjustable Rate Mortgages, where the rate is fixed for the first 10, 7, 5, or 3 years after which the rate adjusts to the market rate. We also have access to a number of foreign national mortgage programs that have more flexibility at JP Morgan Private Bank, BNY Mellon Private Bank, Citi Private Bank, and HSBC Private Bank. 


Different Types of Property

Before beginning the property search, you should understand the different types of property that are available for sale.


  • Few Restrictions
  • Investor Friendly
  • Easy Accessing to Financing
  • Pro Foreign Buyers

A condominium is a real property in which the owner holds the title by deed of the apartment and a percentage of common areas. It is similar to owning a home.


  • Restrictive
  • Not Investor Friendly
  • Generally Prohibit Foreign Ownership
  • Often Prohibits Sub-Leasing

A co-op is not real property. Owners hold shares of stock in a company that owns the building and have a proprietary lease to occupy their apartment.


  • Few Restrictions
  • Investor Friendly
  • Pro Foreign Buyers

Condops (co-ops with condo rules) often have a land lease over a long period of time (99 years), similar to property in London.

Townhouses (and Freestanding Homes)

  • No Restrictions
  • Investor Friendly

A townhouse or brownstone is similar to buying a freestanding house. The owner received title by deed and is the sole party responsible for paying taxes and building maintenance.


Exclusive Buyer's Agent

It's always better for a buyer to work with a buyer's agent (such as Manhattan Miami Real Estate) than working directly with the seller's broker. The selling broker has only one allegiance and that is to the seller, who is interested in obtaining the highest price for the property and best terms. They owe nothing to the buyer. When working with buyers, we work on the behalf of the buyer to protect their interests and obtain the lowest possible price and best terms. If a buyer purchases the property without a buyer broker, the selling broker will receive the entire contractual commission (usually 5-6%), rather than splitting the commission with the buyer's broker (us for instance). If you use a buyer broker, the commission is split between the buyer broker and the seller broker.

Advice on Structuring a Deal
  • Consider Federal and state tax issues, as wel as the impact of tax treaties.
  • Seek local counsel in the US for structuring (LLC, Foreign Corp, etc.) and tax advice.
  • Always consult your attorney before signing contracts.

We have a number of great real estate attorneys and tax professionals that we can recommend to you.



Adapting to life in the USA does not have to be a strenuous process. Let us help you navigate your way to your forever home.

Contact one of our agents today.