As of 2019, about 2.7 million Indian immigrants resided in the United States. Today, Indian immigrants account for approximately 6 percent of the US foreign-born population, making them the second-largest immigrant group, after Mexicans and ahead of immigrants from China and the Philippines.
This guide is for Indians buying houses in the USA irrespective of their immigration life cycle stage in the US. You may broadly fall into one of the below categories:
- US newcomer from India on H1B, L1, F1, J1 visa, etc. with no US credit history
- Resident Indian foreign national in the US on visa (H1B / L1 etc.) with an established US credit history
- India born, US resident on a Green Card or Naturalized citizen.
If you are an Indian falling in one of the categories above and planning to buy a house in the US, this article is precisely for you!
We’ll provide you with some essential data regarding Indian real estate purchases in the United States, as well as some of the most helpful information for Indians looking to purchase property in the United States. In addition, we will guide how the US real estate and mortgage process works from a foreign national perspective.
Can Indians buy property in the United States?
The simple answer is yes. As there is no citizenship requirement for real estate sales in the USA, any non-US citizens can buy any property. Furthermore, homeownership in the US is independent of your immigration status. So, whether you’re an Indian on an H1B, L1, J1, F1 visa, etc., with or without a US credit history, you can still purchase a house in the US.
Note: If you on a H1-B visa, you will be happy to know that there are many mortgage lenders who are willing to lend you a home loan based on your credit history in India and / or based on your paycheck and salary in the US. You do not have to wait to build credit in order to buy a house in the US on a H1-B visa.
Reasons for Indians to buy a house in the USA
- Most Indians see buying a house for primary residence as a more financially intelligent alternative than paying rent.
- High return on investment on real estate in the US is one of the reasons for buying a house, even if you intend to use it as a primary residence. Averge home value in the US has almost doubled in the last 10 years.
- Better quality of life that comes with homeownership, especially if you have family in the US.
- Easy, accessible, and affordable mortgages – If you have an established US credit, you can obtain a mortgage home loan in the US like any other US citizen. However, it’s important to note that you may be able to obtain a mortgage home loan even if you don’t have a credit history in the United States. Many US lenders will employ alternative underwriting standards to assist Indians obtain a mortgage loan with no or thin credit history in the United States.
Pro Tip: When you are ready to buy a house in the US, you should ideally work with a real estate agent who has expertise in working with foreign national clients, such as a real estate agent with CIPS designation.
A CIPS (Certified International Property Specialist) real estate agent has undergone specialized training to handle real estate transactions smoothly for foreign-born individuals residing in the US.
How much US real estate is purchased by Indians every year?
As per the data released by the NAR (National Association of Realtors), India has emerged as one of the top five countries among foreign buyers during the April 2020-March 2021 period. With 4% of foreign buyer purchases, India stands 4th, sharing the position with the United Kingdom.
Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, there was a steep decline in the units bought and the dollars spent on real estate by Indians. More than 4700 units of existing houses were bought, by Indians, during April 2020-March 2021, valued at $3.1 Billion, but during April 2019-March 2020, 9600 units of homes were purchased, a total worth of $5.4 Billion.
A decline of 51% was observed in the number of existing-home sales and 43% in the dollar volume, primarily due to Covid-19.
Table of Historical Trend for US Existing Home Purchase by Indians
|Year||# UNITS||$ (In billions)|
Where do Indian nationals buy property in the USA?
Of course, location is subjective, but this section will give you a good idea of where Indians usually prefer to put their money on properties in the United States of America.
Per NAR, California is the most preferred destination for Indian buyers, with 40% of the buyers in California. This is primarily because most Indian working professionals work and live in the Silicon Valley area.
Texas comes second with 11%, Missouri, Maryland, and Florida with 6% each. Other popular destinations include Wisconsin (5%), New Jersey (5%), Michigan (4%), Illinois (4%), Ohio (4%), and Iowa (3%).
Major US Destinations for foreign buyers from India
|US Destination||Percentage of Indian Buyers|
70% of Indians purchase their US property in the Sub-urban areas. 15% and 14% of Indians put their money in central city/ urban and small-town/rural areas.
How do Indians intend to use their US property?
Indians were most interested in purchasing homes as their primary residence use, at 79%. However, 13% of buyers were interested in using the houses as a rental property and 7% for student use.
This explains why more than half of Indian buyers purchased a property in suburban areas, as they wanted to use the properties as personal residences.
US Property Use by foreign buyers from India
Source: National Association of Realtors
How does property price in USA compare to India?
It depends on where you are buying. In general, the property prices in the US are comparatively lower compared to prices in the central area of global cities. For example, even in a relatively costlier US city like San Francisco, per square meter of residential real estate costs $5,890 compared to $10,932 in Mumbai (India) (source: NAR).
Table of Median Home Prices and Price Per Square Meter For key US Metro Cities
What is the median and average purchase price of the houses in the US purchased by Indians?
Among other foreign national buyers, the median purchase price is the highest among Indian buyers. The median price stood at $538,900 during April 2020-March 2021, increasing 20% compared to the earlier years.
Table of historical trend for Median and Average Purchase Price of US Real Estate by Indians
|Year||Median Purchase Price||Average Purchase Price|
Understanding the various steps involved in the US home buying process for an Indian National
Buying a home overseas can be a challenging task. After all, there are so many steps and requirements, and you may be anxious about making an expensive mistake.
To demystify the process so that you get the most out of the purchase, here is a quick rundown of what you need to consider before you buy.
- Decide where you want to buy the house in the USA.
- Find a real estate agent experienced in international real estate transactions, preferably with a specialization such as CIPS (Certified International Property Specialist). CIPS designated real estate agents have the expertise to work with international clients-both Indian citizens residing in the States, and non-resident Indian buyers of US real estate.
- Understand how working with a Real Estate Agent works in the USA.
- Understand your cross-border tax situation.
- Hire a real estate agent and start your home search process.
- Make an offer on the property you like and finalize your dream house in the USA.
- Conduct a home inspection.
- Sign purchase contract with the seller.
- Complete a Title report.
- Obtain Home Financing through a US Mortgage for foreign nationals.
- Take ownership of your new house in the USA.
Please refer to the step-by-step process on how foreigners can buy a house in the USA in this article.
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Tax implications for Indians buying property in the US
Most Indians buy their US property for primary residence use. If you’re buying your property for a primary residence, you will owe property taxes on your property like any other US citizen. However, you may be able to claim deductions on property tax and mortgages interest in your yearly federal / state tax filing.
Tax implications of selling your primary residence house: If you’ve owned and resided in the home for at least two of the previous five years, you won’t have to pay taxes on the first $250,000 profit. The capital gain exempted from taxation doubles to $500,000 if you’re married and filing your taxes together, but both spouses must meet the residency requirement.
If you are buying a property for investment purposes, Indian investors of US real estate must pay taxes on any income earned in the US; this means they will have to pay taxes on the income from their property (rental income, if any).
Mortgage Home Loan for Indians
Only 8% of Indian buyers make an all-cash purchase. Most Indian buyers reside in the US and obtain mortgage financing.
The good news is you have a mortgage financing option available from expert foreign national mortgage lenders who are experts in working with foreign nationals on a visa or US newcomers with no credit history.
Here are the key points to keep in mind while applying for a mortgage in the States:
- Estimate your budget and your home financing needs.
- Get mortgage pre-approval letter.
- Prepare your documents for a foreign national home loan.
- Shop for your home and make an offer.
- Finalize your foreign national mortgage loan application.
- Lock the interest rate on your mortgage loan as mortgage rates in the US change daily.
- Navigate through your US mortgage loan processing and underwriting.
- Conduct property appraisal.
- Prepare for closing.
US Mortgages for H1B Visa Holders
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Indians can purchase property in the USA just like any other citizen. The process may seem daunting, but our comprehensive guide breaks it down into simple steps. Make sure to consult with a real estate agent and mortgage lender experienced in foreign national transactions to avoid any potential headaches during the buying process.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Can an Indian citizen buy a house in the USA?
Yes, anyone may purchase and own property in the United States, regardless of citizenship. There are no laws restricting a person from buying a property in the USA.
Can Indians qualify for a mortgage in the US?
Yes, Indians can apply for a mortgage in the USA even without a US credit history. However, the process gets easy if you get a green card or work visa.
Can foreigners rent property in the USA?
There are minimal restrictions, and various accommodation options are available to rent a property in the USA.
How long can you stay in the U.S. if you own property?
Solely based on buying a house in the USA, you are not granted any additional perks like acquiring residency. Once you have entered the USA on a Visitor/Business (B1/B2 Visa), you can stay up to six months. Other visa statuses have different stay durations.