British Buying Property in the USA

British Buying Property in the USA
British Buying Property in the USA

Buying property in the US has always been attractive for Brits wanting to start a new life abroad. There are already many appealing factors to consider, including the language, culture and the endless opportunities to advance your career.

There are a few things you need to consider before you begin searching for a property. One of those is the purpose for buying a property. If you are considering to retire there and are looking for a long-term residence, then you are also looking to secure your status as a resident. Getting help from an immigration lawyer who will help you with your Green Card is a good idea.

Green Card

As a UK national moving to the US you are eligible to acquire a Green Card through a family member or your job. Immigration law allows US citizens to request for relatives to come and live with them in the US. Having an immediate relative who is a US citizen, will come in handy for those members of the family, such as a spouse, unmarried children under the age of 21 or parents over the age of 21. If you are getting a Green Card through a job, this will come with an offer for permanent employment, through investment, or having a specialist occupation such as working in the Armed Forces, in an international organisation, or being a broadcaster.

Individual Taxpayer Identification Number: This is a tax-processing number issued by the Internal Revenue Service and you will definitely need it in order to buy property. It is a nine-digit number issued by the IRS to individuals who are not eligible for a Social Security Number or an Employer ID Number.

How about the US property market?

The American property market has slowly been improving since the financial crisis. The value and trust in the market have been increasing, resulting in the rise of house prices.

According to a Forbes article, 2019 is considered to be the most important year for housing in the last 10 years.

Housing is an important sector, since, if it is affected badly, this has an immediate impact on banks and the financial sector. As the article stresses, “The global economy would surely be in trouble if the real estate market became a broad concern. Given this potential for volatility, 2019 will be the most pivotal year in US housing and commercial real estate since the Great Recession.”

One of the reasons stated is a slow-down in the increase of house prices in coastal markets. For example, the last ten years there were extreme increases in properties in the New York City and San Francisco areas, which have calmed down in 2018. This is positive, as “it helps to ensure that oversupply doesn’t happen in these markets any more than it may have already occurred.”


This is possibly good news for prospective British buyers. While when times are good, prices are high and nice homes are difficult to come by, in more cautious times consumers are usually slower to purchase and prices are relatively lower.

The Forbes article argues that in the current poor economic landscape where things are not overpriced this could be very good for consumers: “If the recent cool-down is a blip, and the recent reduction in interest rates incites consumers to make the purchase that they’ve been looking forward to, this could be very good.”

Sending money to the USA

Most banks require that foreign homebuyers have a certain amount on deposit (usually $100,000 or more) while other banks set loan limits to $1-2 million. It is possibly a good idea to transfer your money from your UK bank to an American bank before buying your property.

There are a few options available to you when transferring money to the USA, such as using a UK bank. Unfortunately, you will have to pay costly transaction fees and may also get poor exchange rates.

With a foreign exchange broker such as UPFX you will be able to choose more favourable exchange rates. Being able to ask your broker about the process, get support during the transfer and knowing when your funds arrive, will give you peace of mind.