If you are considering purchasing a vacation home in Central Florida, you are certainly not alone, in fact ownership of US vacation homes has never been more popular with investors from around the world. It is common practice to then rent the property out to other vacationers or holiday makers when not in use by the owners, it’s kind of the best of both worlds really, enjoy your own home and then rent it to help support the cost. There are certainly many factors to consider when looking into buying a home, especially an investment home, so here are a few steps that IPG Realty can suggest for you to get started.

  1. Find a local Realtor who specializes in working with International clients and resort properties – not all local Realtors do and you need the expertise of a seasoned pro. IPG Realty has specialized in foreign national investment buying for over 20 years.
  2. Type of Property – Identify your needs and intention with this purchase. There are no rights and wrongs but be clear and realistic with yourself and your Realtor about your expectations. If you intend to use the home to holiday or vacation in, it is unlikely you will maximize your rental for profit. If this investment home is for your holidays, it is more likely that the extra income will just help offset some of your expenses. If you are simply looking for an income producing property, then be clear and understand that it may be a different type of property. There are condotels or homes in certain areas of Central Florida where the community is just vacation rentals or investment.
  3. Mortgages – Consider if you will need financing in advance as non US resident mortgages are not always easy to obtain – again, this is about expertise as most mortgage brokers, lenders and banks will not offer these mortgages as they are considered a niche within the market – Let your local, seasoned Realtor guide you here as they will know who does them and help you connect early to get pre-qualified. IPG Realty works with a mortgage company that specifically deals with foreign national mortgages.
  4. Property Rental – It all goes back to the Realtor – You need to understand the rules regarding rental of the home – many areas have specific rules about how short a term you can rent your home for while some allow it almost as a hotel would. You need a Management Company that specializes in short term rental. And if you’re working with an IPG Realty, know that IPG also does vacation and long-term management. So, everything that you would need for your investment is under one roof!
  5. Currency Exchange – How do you bring your money over? They say cash is king but not in this scenario, all funds must be in the bank and adequately sourced in their journey to the US. You can choose your bank to do the exchange or alternatively work with a specialized currency exchange company.
  6. Bank Accounts – Yes you should have one and by now, hopefully you are beginning to see why you need a very strong and experienced local team. Some banks are more accustomed to working with International clients than others and these are issues that you don’t want to deal with from thousands of miles away.
  7. Research the good and the bad about buying a resale home and one that is new construction – sometimes you can get a price break on an older home but also be aware of any pending upkeep or replacement items that might be coming of age. A new air conditioner or a leaky roof in the middle of summer is a costly pill to swallow. New homes come with warranties and can often be designed according to your taste, but may come with a higher price tag in most cases.
  8. Tax considerations – Consulting with a local professional is a must when it comes to this and you will need to talk to someone who specializes in taxation for Non-US Residents. It is wise to meet a tax accountant / CPA and if you are making considerable investments, a tax attorney to help structure the purchases may be a good idea – IPG will be able to help with introductions to these professionals as well.
  9. Immigration – Many Non-US resident real estate investors have questions about immigration. It is worthwhile consulting a very good immigration attorney especially in the current environment with many changes afoot. This does not affect your real estate purchase however and please note that you cannot get an immigration status just by purchasing real estate.  If this is a consideration in your mind, I would suggest seeing an attorney early in the process even if you don’t plan to make a move yet. Allow them to help guide you appropriately and you may save money, time and frustration in the future.
  10. Enjoy – Don’t get so caught up that you make this stressful. Your initial research goes into choosing a Realtor and a team of professionals, let them do their work to make this an enriching experience and then enjoy the process. After all, this is a home that you intend to escape to!