What to ask foreign buyers

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02/17/2016 | Author: Editorial Staff

International homebuyers are responsible for billions of dollars in Texas home sales, but they can present unique challenges for Texas REALTORS®. One key to successfully serving these clients may be knowing which questions to ask them.

How long will you be in the country?
If your client uses a visa to visit the United States, find out about the type of visa he or she holds and its expiration date. Owning a property in this country doesn’t necessarily mean they can occupy the property.

How are you planning to pay?
If your client plans to pay in cash, you may want to help him or her ensure the funds can easily be transferred to the U.S. before even looking at properties.

Will you rent out the property?
The IRS has certain requirements concerning the rental income of what the agency refers to as “foreign persons.” The manager of such a property is responsible for reporting to the IRS annual rents collected and sending a percent of collected rental payments to the IRS. If your client plans to rent out his or her property, suggest they hire a property manager who has experience working with foreign owners.

Categories: Property Management, Business tips, Buyers, Sellers, Landlords
Tags: international, homebuyers, foreign sellers


Cristina Botero on 02/18/2016


Most of your points are very valid, however, it is not appropriate for us to ask Buyers if they are U.S. citizens, that is a grey line and could be misinterpreted as discrimination.

I have been practicing real estate in Texas since 1998 and also hold a mortgage loan originator license, I can tell you as a matter of fact that it is not necessary to be a U.S. citizen in order to qualify for a loan to purchase a primary residence. I’ve sold many homes to people who are either permanent or temporary residents, most lenders require that the employment authorization or visa is at least 2 yrs. old and is not expiring in less than 12 months.  People can qualify for conforming loans with different types of work visas and it is up to the lender to find out which program would be the best for that Buyer.

We need to be careful and courteous on how we ask those questions, people from different cultures may feel offended by the way those questions are asked.  I’ve been very lucky to have had clients from four different continents and most of them are much better qualified than some U.S. citizens. I promise you don’t want to miss out on working with them.


Cristina Botero

Rick DeVoss on 02/18/2016

The right people may not be reading this post, but I’ll throw it out there anyway…

“Why don’t we ask these same questions of every buyer??”

I feel like too many agents are not qualifying the buyers who contact them.  I know for sure that all the buyers who contact me just think that all you have to do is go look at one house, and then you are ready to buy one!  —-So maybe it is important that we all educate ALL the public that we talk to, or have contact with on the internet.

What do you do when someone sends you an email inquiry about going to see one particular house?  —I write and tell them about how we need to sit down and discuss the “process” of buying a house, and the fact that ‘looking at houses’ is the 5th step in the process, ...Not the first!

So, it would be good to ask all buyers “How long are you going to be in this county?”  (not “country”)  The calls we get these days frequently come from cell phones that are registered out of state.  Ask a potential buyer how long do they plan to look at houses before they want to purchase one.

“How are you planning to pay?”...is a question you should ask Every buyer in the first phone call with them.  Too many people assume that since they bought a house once in the past, they can easily get qualified today.  ...Or they don’t know about things on their credit report that will bite them in the butt.

If someone asks you to show them a house, do you ask if they will “rent it out” or occupy it?  —-It is good not to make any assumptions.  Find out up front what their goals and plans are.  ...And let’s say they DO plan to make it rental property:  how many of us are asking if they are a U.S. citizen??

The process of buying a house should start out like this:
  #1—Consult with a Realtor.    (This is where you discuss all the issues.)
  #2—Consult with a Loan Officer.  Get a pre-qual letter.
  #3—Determine the type of financing to be used.  (Both of the above can help with that determination, and both have to agree if an FHA or VA loan is to be used.)
  #4—Set parameters and discuss Needs vs. Wants.  (Do both spouses agree?)

After those steps, then we start with Step #5 ... which is looking at houses.

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