Foreigner’s Guide in Purchasing Miami Real Estate

Last update on May 14, 2012.

Foreigner’s Guide in Purchasing Miami Real Estate

The real estate business can be very lucrative for foreigners looking to purchase property in Miami. With foreign currencies performing stronger against the dollar, investors now have a very convenient option of purchasing property in one of the more profitable real estate markets in the world. The real estate crash in the U.S.A. has made them much more affordable now. 

However, buying real estate in Miami can be a tricky task. Foreign investors must be aware of the multitude of loop-holes they must go through when they attempt this transaction. If you already have a real estate agent, you should be able to navigate through the many issues that arrise which include, tranfering funds from overseas, opening a new US bank account, finding a quailified attorney, visa issues, proper tax structure, setting up a trust and/or a corportation to purchase the property etc... Here are some important points to keep track of.

First be prepaired before you start looking for a property. Real Estate transactions are very different in most countries so get familiar with the process in the US. Chances are that it will be much different than what your a customed too. Here are a few steps you should take. 

First find a good real estate professional and use them exclusivly. Most good agent only work exclusive, if you start calling and using multible agents you will find that they will not work as hard knowing you are not commited them. This is one of the many differances countries have, the real estate professionals in South Florida use a MLS system (Multible Listing System) which gives them access to most advertised propeties and agents network and co-operate with each other. In most cases your agent will work for you as a transactional broker agent and will represent you on the transaction. Usually the sellers pays your agent so the cost is minimal for you. 

Second hire a good attorney that deals with foreign national real estate issues. Your attorney will go over items such as what is the best way to purchase real estate, (example) in your personal name or would it be better to form a corporation and/or trust that will hold the property asset. Other services they would offer are the following; Opening up a US bank account in your personal name and/or corporation name, transfer funds to escrow account, setting up correct asset protection, reviewing the offer for purchase and sale and facilitating the closing. You also might need help with your visa. A good attorney that deals with foreign nationals will usually buddle all the services. Be sure to ask and get an estimated price but it is worth being well represented.  

The Miami Market has two seperate markets which are Distressed and non-distressed properties.

Distressed properties
are considered foreclosures, REO'S (Real Estate owned properties from the bank) and short sales (owner owes more that the property is worth). Distressed properties should be for the advanced investor that has cash and can navigate through a longer length of time to close a real transaction. These are difficult deals to close but can be a very good buy. 

Non-distressed properties now make up the majority of the market and most buyers want to close quickly without major complications. 

Other cost that are associated with owning a property in South Florida 
For every piece of property you own, there are several upkeep fees you have to be aware of. These fees are the normal fees you have to maintain as an owner.

HOA (Home Owners Association) in a community usually for home or townhome; Monthly fee
Condo maintenance fees; Monthly fee
Property Taxes, usually plus or minus 2% of the purchase price; Paid yearly
Home Insurance; Paid yearly
Utilities are required for the upkeep of certain amenities. Gas, electricity, water supply and garbage collection 

What to look for when renting your property.

There are many foreign nationals that would like to rent their property especially in a metropolitan setting such as Miami. First make sure if you are purchasing a condo you understand the buy-laws of the association, many condo have restriciton on how you can rent your property and you must adhere do these rules. Some buildings make it easy to rent and some are very difficult.

Get your property assessed and priced to best compete with other listings. Make sure the property you will be renting out is well maintained to help up your chances of a client agreeing to rent right away. Have all your documentation sorted out beforehand so that the process of turning over the keys is much smoother. Realtors can help you rent out your property for a fee of 10% of the lease. 

Miami is wonderful place to live and invest but educate your self first and understand the market. For more information you can go to

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