Buying real estate in the United States: beware of disappointments

Sylvain Perret, founder of the Objectif USA agency, is not losing his temper. This Frenchman, specializing in expatriation advice, testifies to serious disappointments during real estate investments in the United States. “Some compatriots come to ask us for help after buying goods that are far too expensive because they were poorly informed about the market. We made them buy in a shrinking sector, like Detroit or the Dakota, or we sold them property in poor condition ”he says.

Some real estate professionals promise interesting deals by offering properties for sale that are the subject of a “foreclosure”that is to say from a foreclosure, sold much cheaper than the market. “You have to be very careful because entire buildings are sometimes seized and the buyer of an apartment may have to assume all the charges before other people invest”warns the law firm Picovschi.

Being accompanied is therefore essential, for the administrative procedures related to the visa and taxation as well as for the search for properties. A real estate agent, called “realtor”, can help. For non-English speakers, a French newspaper, The Florida Courier, gives contact details for French-speaking real estate agents. It is necessary to verify that the agent has a license number and that he is insured in “liability” (professional liability) and “errors and omissions”, and that he is a member of the National Association of Realtors (NAR), one of the main federations of real estate agents.

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In the United States, the notary as it is conceived in France does not exist, it is a lawyer called “attorney” who accompanies you throughout the transaction. The real estate agent can advise you on this. The Consulate General of France in Florida also publishes lists of French-speaking lawyers.

Miami Beach, spectacular view

It is also advisable to be accompanied by a home inspector, which establishes in detail the condition of the accommodation and the work to be carried out. This corresponds to our real estate diagnoses, but more in-depth. To find this type of professional, it is possible to go to the website of theAmerican Society of Home Inspectors.

It is often necessary to count 1,000 dollars (about 919 euros) for the lawyer, but this varies according to the States, and from 300 to 500 euros for the diagnoses. The real estate agency takes about 6% of the amount of the transaction, divided equally between the seller and the buyer. On the other hand, the taxes to be paid are lower than in France. For the acquisition of a house of 250,000 dollars (about 230,000 euros), it is necessary to provide about 1,500 dollars, against almost 18,000 euros in France. Between the time the offer is made and the transaction finalized, it takes about a month, compared to three months in France.

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