Will Buying a Home in NYC Make Me a Citizen?

Maria Fernanda Roda  |  January 17, 2023


Will Buying a Home in NYC  Make Me a Citizen?

Buying a home in desirable NYC neighborhoods like SoHo or Manhattan comes with several perks, but US citizenship isn’t one of them. There are other paths to US citizenship, although becoming a citizen isn’t required to buy Manhattan homes, SoHo real estate, or any type of property within the United States. Before explaining the particulars of buying as a foreigner, here’s what to know about the current real estate market in SoHo.

Popular property types in SoHo include condos, co-ops, and some rental properties. The architecture is distinctive for the cast-iron buildings dating back to the 1800s. SoHo itself has a rich artistic history and culture, although today, the technology sector is making its mark. Currently, properties in SoHo have a median sale price of $2.2 million, making it one of the most expensive areas of NYC real estate. However, the number of transactions has decreased, which helps lower competition for buyers.  

The short answer

In short, the answer is that buying real estate won’t automatically make a foreigner a US citizen. The United States doesn’t have any citizenship requirements for real estate sales, and even though the buying process may be more complex, foreigners can even qualify for a mortgage if they need financial support. Many foreign-born homeowners favor coastal cities like New York, California, and Florida. Those searching for citizenship will have to follow a different avenue to citizenship. While the process may seem overly complicated, don’t worry—your agent is here to guide you and simplify the process!

Buying as a foreigner

There are a few things to be aware of when buying Manhattan or SoHo real estate as a foreigner. Those without US citizenship aren’t limited to buying certain property types, and they can search for anything they’re interested in, like condos, townhomes, apartment buildings, or even a plot of land. A temporary resident, non-resident, DACA recipient, or any other non-citizen shouldn’t face legal restrictions when buying real estate.

The Fair Housing Act (FHA) protects all home buyers, including non-citizens, from discrimination or exclusionary practices. Those who aren’t citizens should research fair housing laws, contact a local fair housing center for additional help, or file a federal complaint within a year if a violation occurs. 

The types of loans available to residents depend on immigration and residency status. Those who are green card holders can sign up for the same loans as US citizens if they’re able to provide information like proof of employment, credit history, and proof of income. The process for other foreign buyers can be more complicated, but it is still very achievable! Those who are in the US with a work visa can apply for an FHA loan, although they will need to show proof that they’ll be in the country long enough to pay off their debt.

Ways to become a citizen

Even though buying a US property doesn’t automatically make a person a US citizen, there are other avenues to citizenship a foreigner can take. Obtaining citizenship through naturalization is a longer process with eligibility requirements and a 10-step naturalization process. Individuals can also seek out dual citizenship, although you should research both countries’ laws and policies to ensure it’s possible and that no mistakes are made.

Although being a green card holder (also known as a permanent resident) doesn’t make you a US citizen, it comes with many benefits. For example, a green card holder is one step closer to naturalization. They’re also entitled to rights and responsibilities like having a larger pool of jobs, protection by US laws, filing income tax returns, and registering with the Selective Service if they’re a man between 18 and 25 years old. Permanent residents can also sponsor relatives like a spouse or unmarried children.

Creating an LLC to buy a property

In order to streamline the home-buying process, it’s advisable to create an LLC to purchase a property after your offer is made. While this may sound daunting, it couldn’t be easier!

An LLC, or Limited Liability Company, will provide you with greater privacy as you move toward your real estate goals. First, your agent will guide you in finding the perfect new property.  Once you’ve found the home of your dreams, you will then make an offer in your name, explaining your foreign status and that an LLC is going to be created moving forward. Creating your LLC simply involves registering online and opening a bank account for your new LLC.

Of course, your agent will be by your side every step of the way, ensuring that you achieve your new home without all the stress. Maria Fernanda Roda practiced as a lawyer in Bolivia for many years. With that top-notch experience, she can effectively explain the entire process and guide you toward making wise decisions along your real estate journey. She will partner with a recommended real estate lawyer who also speaks your preferred language, so you have professionals on your side who are ready to guide you. In all, she will make the entire process much easier, faster, and more streamlined.

How to buy real estate 

Those interested in Manhattan or SoHo real estate should first partner with a local real estate agent. A buyer working with an agent can expect a fee-free service, as buyers’ concessions are paid for by sellers. An agent can help you understand factors like the local market trends, as well as the types of properties on the market that fulfill your goals. They’ll be aware of the details about SoHo that may appeal to you, such as the green spaces in James J. Walker Park, landmark drinking establishments like The Ear Inn, and more.

A homebuyer should consider the property in person, checking the home for its current condition, any serious repairs it may need, as well as its size and location within a neighborhood. Be sure it’s large enough to accommodate your needs and that it’s in a community that aligns with your lifestyle preferences. The type of property you search for will likely be different and depend on whether you’re searching for a primary residence, a vacation home, or an investment property.

Those using a mortgage to finance their property should estimate costs like a down payment, mortgage payments, and additional expenses related to buying, like closing costs. Having a financial plan before you buy, whether that means setting aside funds to pay in cash, getting preapproved for a mortgage, or researching other avenues of support, is essential to a successful home purchase. Foreign buyers should have information like a social security number or a taxpayer identification number (ITIN) at hand to qualify for a mortgage.

Setting up an investor visa

You may be able to obtain a visa by investing in commercial real estate within the U.S. Through this route, real estate investors and their spouses can apply for permanent residence if they invest in commercial real estate and run their business in the U.S. This can lead to lucrative profits for you down the line as your business grows and expands. Your real estate agent can guide you in beginning this process if you wish to take this route.

Ready to get started?

Buying real estate in NYC can be an excellent move for any type of buyer. However, those seeking citizenship should know that owning property in the US doesn’t automatically make them US citizens. Although the buying process may be more complicated, the perks of living in the area outweigh any disadvantages, and your agent is always on your side to make your journey as easy as possible. 

When you’re ready to search for NYC real estate, contact experienced local agent Maria Fernanda Roda to guide you through the process. With her expertise and background as a lawyer in Bolivia, Maria is well-versed in legal guidelines and will help you reach your goals without all the stress.

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