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International

International Guide

If you are a Non-US citizen (AKA Foreign National) buyer or seller, here is some useful information on buying or selling a home in Central Florida.

Purchasing a vacation home or property for short term rental

KeyBuying a vacation home can be an exciting and time consuming experience. Our goal is to help walk you through the process. We have been working with customers from Canada, UK and abroad since 2002 and we would love the opportunity to assist you.

There are many factors that should be considered.

As a quick summary, you will want to start by looking at your finances and determining your comfort level with regards to your price point. Are you financing (getting a loan) or purchasing with cash? If financing, you must get your pre-approval done first. Once we have determined your price point, we can then discuss areas and communities that fit the budget. We will then discuss the needs for your new home such as bedrooms, bathrooms, what community amenities are you looking for (if any) and so on. Once you have selected your new home, we will then prepare an agreement to purchase the home. If you are purchasing new construction and the home is not completed, we will take pictures for you throughout the process. There are many other important factors and you will find more detailed information in the sections below .

Realtor Defined

office_R_whiteIt is extremely important that when looking to buy a home in Florida that you use a Licensed REALTOR ®. The State of Florida has a Florida Real Estate Commission that tests and qualifies an individual to become a Licensed Real Estate Agent. A licensed Real Estate Agent is not the same as a REALTOR®. A REALTOR® is a Licensed Real Estate Agent who has taken additional steps to become a member of the local board of REALTORS®. They have subscribed to a strict code of ethics and are expected to maintain a higher level of knowledge of the process of buying and selling real estate.

As your REALTOR® we are your personal contact throughout the home buying process.
Please visit our concierge tab to see how we differ

The Need For One Agent - How We Differ?

The US system allows us to assist you with every aspect of finding a home. This saves you time, as you don’t have to call several agents to view properties. Our MLS system allows us access to all the properties listed in the Central Florida area. Once we define your needs we can then search for properties for you. When you are ready to view the homes we will make appointments and follow it through to the closing process and after!

What Are The Benefits of Using a Realtor®

As your REALTOR®, we have knowledge of the local market and market conditions, have access to information on past sales and current listings, and know what’s hot or not in your community.

Some of the many benefits include:

  • Assistance in preparing a comparative marketing analysis, which helps you research homes in the area.
  • Knowledge of properties new to the market, or those that are about to be listed. Including NEW HOME construction and resales/existing homes.
  • Assistance in navigating through the home-buying process.
  • Attendance at closing and assistance with any last-minute problems or details.
  • And best of all as the buyer it costs you NOTHING!! The builder or seller pays the commission.

What is Short Term Rental?

A short-term rental property can be rented daily, weekly, or monthly. The majority of customers who purchase properties to rent out will hire a management company to rent it for them.

If you are interested in purchasing a property and renting it out on a short-term basis, then you want to be sure that the property is zoned accordingly. We can assist you with checking the areas and making sure it fits that criteria.

Decorating & Furniture

Once you have purchased, or contracted to purchase a home you need to start thinking about furnishing and decorating your home. Should you wish to purchase a Custom Furnishing Package, we can provide you with contact information for companies in which you can choose from. Your furniture package will include everything you need for your home to be a turn-key operation, including linens, plates, utensils, furniture and more. Prices will vary – so you’ll want to check with different companies for their pricing and package options.

Management Company

There are many management companies to choose from and it is recommended you interview several before making your decision.

Some short-term rental communities will have on-site management, which can be very convenient and often times a good route to take. Be sure to ask, as this can save you valuable time.

A Management Company should be able to:

  • Assist in connecting your utilities. Manage and maintain a reservation or booking system. Many management companies will have on-line access for their customers so they can see when their unit is being rented, etc.
  • Arrange for repairs, handle utility bills and invoices related to the property.
  • If you have a private pool – make sure this is routinely cleaned and maintained.
  • Make sure the property is properly cleaned after each guest.

 

When you are interviewing management companies take into consideration some of the points above, and any other pertinent information that can help you in making your decision.

It is highly recommended that when you hire a management company – you also actively market your own property. Management companies should openly discuss this and many will discount their fees if you book your own home!

As A Buyer, How Does FIRPTA Affect Me?

FIRPTA stands for Foreign Investment in Real Property Tax Act.

Whether you are a non-resident or resident of the US, you will want to be aware of possible tax consequences and guidelines that must be followed if purchasing a property from a non-resident.

For more information on this and other useful tax information you can click on this link below, or check with your accountant and/or attorney: IRS.gov

    The Buying Process

    • Make The Decision To Buy

      How do you intend to use the property?

      • Buy to rent only – short or long term
      • Buy to use for vacation when you visit, and then rent out when we are not using the property
      • Not rent out – keep only for ourselves

      If you intend to rent the property, you will want to take into consideration that all your expenses may not be covered. You will want to carefully analyze your budget and ensure that if your expenses are not met, that you can support paying the bills associated with your new property.

      Things to consider when purchasing a property?

      • Do you prefer a: Single Family Home, Condominium, or Townhome.
      • Are you looking for a community with amenities such as a clubhouse, community pool, fitness center, or on site-management?
      • What size home? Number of Bedrooms? Number of Bathrooms?
      • Do you prefer an existing home or a new home? If you are interested in new construction we can also assist with that. It is important to know the salespeople for the builder represent the builder NOT YOU. Hiring us does not cost you anything but we can assist with negotiating and many other things in your absence. Purchasing new construction may depend on your budget.
    • Get Preapproved

      It is important that before you begin searching for a home that you know what you can afford. This can save you a lot of time as you begin looking for properties. As a non-resident of the United States you will want to check with the lender directly on the minimum down payment required for a US Mortgage. It could start as low as 25% but it will depend on your financial circumstances.

      For example when applying for a US Mortgage you may need to have available:

      • Copy of passport and/or VISA
      • 2 most recent pay slips and 2 years tax returns or P60’s
      • Letter from employer stating last 2 years of gross earnings.
      • For self-employed – accountants letter showing 2 years of gross income year to date.
      • Current annual mortgage statement in the UK to prove payment history
      • 3-6 months of most recent bank statements form the account that the funds will be coming from.

      Additional documentation may be required due to the type of loan you are applying for. A qualified lender or loan officer will discuss this when applying for the loan and discuss the qualifications for the different loan programs.

      There are several companies that we have worked with on past transactions, which would be more than happy to speak with you personally. Just call or e-mail and we can provide you with their contact information.

      td-bank-logo
      Arthur.Mitchell@td.com

       

      td-bank-logo
      Michael.Knight@td.com

       

      60380-rbc-royal-bank
      Alain.Forget@rbc.com

    • Begin Searching

      After reviewing your decision to buy and the features you are looking for in your new home, we can begin searching for properties. This can be done a number of ways depending on your comfort level. Information can either be sent via the internet/email, or if you are planning a visit we can schedule an appointment, and arrange site visit of various properties that fit your specific needs. After viewing properties, you will begin to find out what is important to you, which will help you in narrowing your search in finding your home. If you are not visiting prior to your purchase than we offer video tours of the homes and upload them to You-Tube for you. This way you can see the home (for the most part) without being here.

    • Open A Us Bank Account

      Many times this is overlooked and can be the cause of many problems. It is required to have a US bank account in order to receive a US Mortgage. There are many banks that work with overseas customers and are familiar with the needs and requirements in opening a bank account

    • Prior To Closing

      There are few additional items that you’ll want to finalize prior to closing:

      • A Homeowners Insurance policy must be in place before you close. You will need to contact an insurance agent and request that a policy be drawn up for your property. You can check our Vendor List under the Resource Section for some contact information.
      • Be sure that your money for closing has been transferred over to your US bank account. Be aware that it may take up to four business days for the wired amount to reach your US account.
      • Stay in close contact with your mortgage company. If there is any additional information that is requested of you from the lender, you will want to be forthcoming and send required documents over as quickly as possible so as not to delay your closing.
      • Contact your furniture company, informing them of your closing date and pay any outstanding balances to allow for a quick installation time.
      • Finalize your agreement with a management company, to get everything in order for the management and rental of your property. You will want to be sure that all of the required documents are signed and that your initial deposit has been made.
    • After Closing

      As a foreign investor you will be essentially running a small business in the USA, you will need to file a tax return and for a tax identification number. This is called a non-resident tax returns (form1040NR). You can do so yourself (NOT RECOMMENDED) or have an accountant file all the paperwork on your behalf. Many hire an accountant so they are confident that the filing is done correctly. You will want to hire an accountant that has a good understanding of both International and US tax issues.

    Thinking about selling, but not sure what the market value is? We can provide you an overview of your home’s current market value, by analyzing your “Competition” and recent sales. We can put together a marketing plan to assist you in selling your home as quickly and efficiently as possible. Allow us to walk you through the process and make it as smooth as possible.

    The Selling Process

    • Analyze why you are selling

      If you know exactly why you are selling, then it will be easier for you to set the right plan of action. Do you need to sell quickly? Discuss your limitations and bottom line so they can help you set realistic goals. Are you behind on your mortgage? If so, a short sale may be an option – call for details.

    • Prepare you home

      You know what they say: “you never have a second chance to make a first impression. From the moment a potential buyer drives up and enters the home, they should see a manicured lawn; a clean garage; organized closets and rooms; and it should be cleaned from top to bottom.

    • Hire your Realtor®

      We will take the time to understand your goals and objectives. Here are some of the many benefits of using us as your REALTOR®:

      • Preparation of a Comparative Market Analysis (CMA) which will show homes currently for sale, recently sold, and sales histories, which can assist you in setting the home’s selling price.
      • Marketing/Advertising Plan to ensure the house is given maximum exposure to potential buyers.
      • Listing homes on the Multiple Listing Service, which attracts the attention of other local agents.
      • Saves you time. We coordinate showings for your home, and answer questions about the property to other buyers or real estate agents.
      • Arrange a brokers’ tour or a brokers’ open so other agents in the area can familiarize themselves with the property
      • Assistance with the entire home-selling process.
    • Listing Contracts

      The listing contract gives us authorization to act on your behalf in the sale of your home. Listing contracts must be in writing, and will have a termination date and compensation structure.

    • Disclosures

      Be honest when filling out your disclosures. Insist the Buyers get a home inspection.

    • Negotiate price and terms

      Read offers thoroughly, and evaluate the price and terms being offered. Some things to consider are:

      • Price? Escrow?
      • Who is responsible for repairs & what is the dollar amount the Buyer is asking for in repairs?
      • When is the closing date?
      • Are there any financing contingencies, or is it a cash offer?
    • Closing

      Collect net proceeds after mortgage payoff (if applicable) and/or bring money to the table if needed.

    What Is FIRPTA?

    As A Seller How Does FIRPTA Affect Me?

    FIRPTA stands for Foreign Investment in Real Property Tax Act. If you are a non-resident and selling a property in the US, you need to be aware of possible tax consequences. If a Seller is a “foreign person” as defined by FIRPTA, Section 1445 of the Internal Revenue Code requires a buyer of real property to withhold 15% of the amount realized by the Seller on the transfer and remits the withheld amount to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) unless an exemption applies.

    For more information on this and other useful tax information you can visit www.irs.gov or check with your accountant and/or attorney.

    This is for informational purposes only. On how FIRPTA may or may not affect you, please be sure to check with your own accountant for more details.