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By Alistair Brown

Founder, ABI Group


American dream? No, owning a property stateside is easy... if you know how

HAVING spent decades closely following the UK and American property markets, I’ve seen and read many reports comparing the two.  But one recent study really caught my eye. Its stark headline summary was that “Housing makes Brits worse off than Americans”.

The detail contained in the report by the Social Market Foundation (SMF) was very revealing. It found 21% of Brits’ spending in 2023 went towards housing, as opposed to 17% for Americans.
Yet, despite spending more on housing, Brits get much smaller homes than Americans, whose residences are 60% larger per resident.

Housing is a large part of why Americans enjoy significantly higher living standards than Britons, the SMF paper concluded. This is likely to be one of many reasons why British property investors are turning their attention again to the USA as an attractive place to buy.

Ducks in a row

At present the USA continues to offer great value for money given the strength of the pound against the dollar and the strong return on rental investment. Even though the benefits are clear, many are still put off by a fear they won’t be able to navigate the process.

It’s true to say that the steps you go through when buying in the USA vary quite substantially from those in the UK. But the process can, thankfully, be much quicker and carefully orchestrated - if you have your ducks in a row.

When it comes to getting into homes to see them in person, there's a big difference between the US and the UK. When buying a home in America, the buyer teams up with a real estate agent or realtor. The real estate agent works solely for the buyer and has no loyalty to the home sellers. The agent is there to help you find and buy a home.

The buyer’s agent will be able to get you access to any home you want to see and you can schedule a property tour of multiple homes in a day.

But you still need to do your homework. Before you begin your search, have a plan of what type of property you want. Decide on the size, budget, what type of area you want to buy in and what you will use the property for.  

In the US real estate agents act on behalf of sellers and buyers, representing the best interests of each client. Make sure your realtor is being highly proactive to work on your behalf, especially if you are planning on liaising with them remotely from the UK.

223 Napoli Drive (Image courtesy of: Stellar MLS)

Your realtor can - and should - also advise on the legalities associated with the purchase, and the regulations you will need to adhere to during the process.

But a realtor isn’t the only thing you will need. You will also need other local experts, including:

•    A lawyer- who can advise on immigration laws if you are planning to stay in the USA for long periods/ planning to move there.

•    A financial advisor- to get your finances in place including tax implications, pension, and insurance.

•    A currency specialist- to advise on how and when to transfer the monies.

•    A mortgage broker- this can be in the UK or USA

Some real estate agents, including ABI Group will provide a one stop shop service- so all of this can be taken care of in-house.

During the property search process, your realtor will step in to guide you, suggest properties and organise viewings. Once you have found the right property, the realtor will help to negotiate the price and agree the terms of the sale and also a closing date.
During the buying process, buyers and sellers will also nominate a Title Company which acts as an Escrow Agent. This is a neutral third party that holds funds and documents during a real estate transaction. This ensures that both buyers and sellers fulfil their obligations before the agreement is finalised. The title company plays a vital role in safeguarding all parties’ interests by handling paperwork, verifying conditions, and ensuring correct fund distribution.
Once all terms have been completed and funds deposited, the sale or ‘closing’ can take place.
In many ways this is the biggest advantage of buying stateside as this process on average takes 45-60 days, compared to between six to 12 weeks in the UK.

It means that those who take the step and go for it - get even more time to enjoy the benefits of a stateside home.

American dream? No, owning a property stateside is easy... if you know how

Windsor Cay Resort (Image courtesy of: Stellar MLS)


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