How to Get a Loan for Overseas Property

Are you looking to buy real estate abroad?

Getting a local mortgage to finance the acquisition of an overseas property will usually depend on your country of origin, residential status, and income level.

How can you get a loan to purchase a property overseas? 

Whether you are buying a property for investment or personal use, purchasing real estate in a foreign country can be quite a complex process. If you can provide collateral, that a foreign lender can foreclose when you default on your loan payments, you may be able to get a loan. Even in countries where mortgage lending exists, loan terms may be far less favorable than you would normally find at home.

You could end up paying a higher interest rate and a much larger down payment of up to 50% of the property’s value.  The lender may also require you to take out a life insurance policy for the loan and naming the bank as the beneficiary. How can you get a loan to if you want to buy a home in a foreign country?

How can I get international loan?

Let’s take a look at how to get a loan for an overseas property.

Foreign mortgage

A good number of US based local and international banks, offer loans to foreign applicants provided they meet requirements such as, income, age, visa, and other criteria. 

Having a good credit history and getting all your important documents in order is also helpful.

International home loans offer you financing loans that you can use to pay off the overseas property. 

Loans may also be given by international banks, if they are available in your country, or you may go for alternative loans that specifically cater for foreign buyers.

International property loans certainly have a higher interest rate and a higher average APR, though, they will only require proof of your national ID and current income statements. 

These loans are quite convenient, no matter if you are a U.S. citizen or a foreigner.

international property loans

Steps to Follow When Looking for International Property Loans;

  • Decide your priority needs
Make sure to always plan in advance, draw up a budget to see exactly how much money you will need to buy, and maintain your new property.

  • Start applying for a loan
There are many international lenders out there who offer overseas property and personal loans. Try to shop around, do more research to find lenders that offer loans that are more tailored to your specific loan financing needs, and borrowing profile. 

Find a loan you qualify for, and do a pre-approval or full application to see what the lenders offer you. Keep in mind that your loan application implies the lender will do a credit check on you which may affect your credit score.

  • Get a loan offer
Most loan offers usually come in as you complete the loan application processes and some lenders confirm whether you are eligible for the loan. 

Make sure to complete any follow-ups and accept the offer you find is the best for you. It is a good idea to compare several loan offers to make sure you get the best. 

When you have accepted a loan offer, the funds will be disbursed to your account. How long it takes to get the money will depend on the lender you choose. 

Some lenders can take as long as several weeks to offer financing while others may approve your loan request in 2-3 business days.

  • Buy the overseas property and repay the loan
When you have received a loan, you can go ahead and purchase the property you wanted. Make sure to make monthly payments on the loan without default, in order to safeguard your newly acquired overseas property and investments. 

real estate financing

Alternative ways to finance your overseas real estate purchase

Huge down payment

Most international lenders usually expect you to pay at least 20 percent of the purchase price, as a down payment on the loan. 

Getting a mortgage to buy an overseas property with as little as a 3 percent down payment is not easy.

Depending on the location of the property, you may be required to pay as much as 50 percent or more of the price upfront. 

A local real estate broker who specializes in foreign mortgage transactions, can help you safeguard and make your overseas mortgage transactions easy and much more efficient.

Countries worldwide have different real estate lending regulations, requirements and laws. 

A foreign property broker who can walk you through each step in the loan financing process can be quite helpful. 

A local real estate broker may also be able to get you access to lenders and loans for which you might qualify.

Most foreign lenders require a life insurance policy that names the lender as the beneficiary in the event that you die before the mortgage loan is paid off. 

The mortgage term will usually correlate with your life insurance policy. For example, a 65 yrs old with a 20 yr life insurance policy cover will only get a 20-year loan term.

Some foreign banks in countries such as Australia, New Zealand and many countries in Western Europe, more readily offer international property mortgages to overseas property buyers. 

However, you may need to establish a relationship with a local mortgage lender before they offer you a loan. 

You can establish such a relationship by opening a bank account with the lender, and keeping it in good standing.

Borrow on home equity

A very popular way to get a loan for an overseas property is to consider borrowing from your home equity. 

A home equity line of credit has a much lower interest rate that can go as low as 2% for the introduction period, followed by a fixed average 4.5% interest rate for the rest of the loan.

Home equity line of credit can help you get cash discount offers on overseas properties especially when you pay cash for property. 

Cash payments can also help you negotiate with the seller for a better price. This is a good option if you have to make progress payments while the property is still under construction.

Having a home equity line of credit gives you access to cash, and you do not have to use all the money if you do not need it, and you do not have to borrow it all at once. 

This works well especially if you are making progress payments on a pre-construction property purchase. You do not have to pay interest on the loan until you actually use the money borrowed.

A traditional second mortgage, or mortgage refinancing, may also work for you if you know how much money you need. 

If you would like to lower your interest rate, or change the terms of your first mortgage, mortgage refinance may be the best option for you.

overseas property loans
refinancing loan

Get a mortgage refinance loan

If you already own a property at home in the U.S. and have already paid a certain amount towards the mortgage, you may qualify for a home refinancing loan. 

A refinancing loan is usually sanctioned by the lender based on your home equity, and can help you get rid of your initial loan while making it possible for you to invest in a property in the US.

A home refinancing loan is one of the easiest and cheapest ways to finance your property in the US, and can also help you invest in overseas real estates to increase your investment portfolio. 

To get approved for a mortgage by US based lending institutions, you need to have a good US approved credit score, and hence, will need to hire the services of a good local mortgage expert to help you build your loan application, and make sure that you gain access to the best mortgage products available for your specific needs. 

The right mortgage expert can help realize your overseas real estate dream. The easiest, and most reliable way to finance your property acquisition in the US, is through access to an overseas loan, sanctioned by an American lending institution.

Foreign real estate investors need to understand that the US property market, is relatively inexpensive with a wide range of homes on offer. However, this does not mean that buying a property in the US is without hurdles.

To start with, you need to gain access to a home loan or mortgage which can prove difficult if you are a foreigner. It is still possible for overseas investors to purchase properties in the USA through US based mortgage property lenders. 

Bank financing

Though bank financing with favorable terms is the least likely possibility for acquiring an overseas property, it could be the best option when it is available. 

When considering bank financing for the purchase of property overseas, the loan-to-value ratios (LTV) may be lower than you expect, and may typically be from 50 to 75 percent of the property value.

Loan terms may also be short and interest rate s are usually adjustable rather than fixed.  A 30-year loan is hard to secure and are unheard of. 

Some foreign lenders may also require life insurance to guarantee the loan. This can limit the term of your loan especially for elderly persons since many insurance companies will insure you only through the age of 75 years.

To qualify for bank financing as a foreigner, you will need to have proof of your current residential status and income. 

The type of income the bank will require and accept will usually vary depending on the country. Non-resident bank financing is much more difficult to find, but not impossible. 

A foreigner with good credit may be eligible to receive financing in Mexico, Panama, the Dominican Republic, Portugal, France and New Zealand. 

bank loans
cash purchase

Cash purchase

Cash can help you close a foreign property purchase deal much faster, and you will also most likely get to pay the best price through discounts and upgrades. 

Paying cash is recommended only if the property you want to buy is already constructed and not in the pre-construction stage. 

If you pay cash upfront for an overseas property that is still under construction, there is always the risk that the foreign developer could run out of money, or have some other problem that would either delay or stop them from completing the project on time. 

In such situations, it could be hard and even time-consuming, to try and get your money refunded. 

Developer financing

Depending on the country, you may qualify for foreign developer financing if you buy more properties overseas, or a pre-construction property in a development.

Developer financing usually involves less paperwork, and there are no age restrictions or life insurance requirements.

Developer financing is also free of interest and with one type of developer financing, you make payments on fixed dates, such as 10% when you sign the purchase agreement, 10% after six months, another 10% after 12 months, and the balance when the project is completed.

Rather than having fixed dates, another arrangement can see you make payments according to construction stages, such a paying 10% down, 20% when the foundation is complete, 20% after the first floor is complete, etc. With some other types of developer financing, you make regular monthly payments.

At times, there may be no other financing options available, and you need to be creative with the way in which you obtain a loan to purchase an overseas property. 

Most foreign developers are increasingly providing loans for overseas buyers that have no other options for getting financing.  

Mexico, Brazil, Nicaragua, Belize, and Panama, are some countries where you can access developer financing.

This type of financing has some of the best deals and usually occurs when the developer is only starting to sell. 

Once the development begins to sell well, then the more attractive financing terms are no longer available.

developer financing
seller financing

Seller financing

Some overseas property sellers may be willing to provide financing for some of the properties that you are planning to buy. 

The terms will usually differ from one seller to another and will be based on whatever you and the seller come to an agreement on.

Most seller financing loan terms are usually for 5 years, but you may negotiate with them to provide a more convenient loan term. 

The longer a particular property has been up for sale, the easier it will be for you to negotiate good loan terms for the property. 

However, as is the case with bank financing, you should not expect the seller to give you the title deed until you have finished paying for the loan.

Try and negotiate with the seller especially if they are hard-pressed to sell. You may negotiate with your seller on loan terms, after making a down payment. 

Sellers with immediate cash requirements often agree to such loan arrangements. The result of your negotiations must be entered into a written legal document and not just oral.

Loan payment terms should be made clear to both parties and if you are not confident about negotiating, make sure your property broker does it on your behalf. 

Remember, negotiations are often part and parcel of a real estate investment deal whether local or overseas. 

Use your self-directed IRA or 401k

If you plan to buy a house overseas and plan on using it solely as a rental or investment property, you may be able to use funds from your self-directed IRA or 401k to make the purchase. 

The IRS does not have specific type of investments that are allowed in a self-directed IRA and only states what is not allowed, such as collectibles (e.g., artwork, stamps, and antiques), certain coins, and life insurance.

Different from traditional IRAs, where investment options are usually limited to stocks, bonds, and mutual funds, funds from a self-directed IRA can be invested in a broader set of assets, including real estate at home or overseas.

Since the property must be treated as a real estate investment, you will not be able to live in the home until you are old enough to start receiving distributions from the account. 

You cannot use it for vacations either, and if you try to circumvent the law by renting it to yourself, the IRS will not be pleased.

You can use funds from your self-directed IRA to pay for the property and any expenses related to its maintenance. 

Tax laws are often complicated and change periodically. It is always a good idea to work with a qualified tax specialist and an experienced real estate attorney to make sure you understand both the risks and implications of investing in overseas real estate with your self-directed IRA.

Investing in an overseas property with funds from your IRA or 401k, is one of the best ways to invest abroad and put your investment funds to work since your income and capital gains are tax-deferred. 

If you borrow a loan from your 401k, what you buy can be used personally. Normal IRA/401k restrictions do not apply to loans or properties you buy with loans.

If you have an IRA which do not allow borrowing, you can simply buy the property with your retirement plan. 

In this case, you cannot use the property personally, but you do get the tax advantages. Consider investing in property abroad using funds in your retirement accounts. 

You may have funds in an individual retirement account or 401(k) plan that could be used for a property purchase overseas.

However, you need to follow certain very specific rules when accessing funds from your retirement account to buy property, and remember that that cash will not be available for other retirement expenses. 

The IRS limits the amount of a 401(k) loan to $50,000 or 50 percent of your vested account balance, whichever is lower. 

Also take note of terms for early withdrawal penalties and make sure to always read the fine print.

real estate properties

If you purchase property abroad, know that transaction costs may add up quite a bit to the overall cost of the property. Take into account a transfer fee or stamp duty, which is a tax levied by many countries that can add more than 10% to the sales price of the property. You may also end up paying a lawyer, notary, and registration fees, plus your share of the real estate agent’s commission.

Before purchasing a property overseas, it is important to check the local laws to make sure you are qualified and allowed to buy and own real estate in the country as a foreigner. Even if you can buy real estate in a certain country, there might be limitations on the type(s) of properties foreigners are eligible to buy. There may also be rules regarding what happens if you want to sell the overseas property.

When buying a property or a home overseas, it is important to ensure that the transaction is conducted in a manner that will protect your property rights. Consulting a qualified local and or international real estate professional and an attorney will help ensure that the acquisition process goes as smoothly as possible, your property rights are protected, and all necessary paperwork is in order.

Purchasing real estate overseas, as a vacation home or an investment property, is achievable and can help diversify a broader asset portfolio. Mortgages and loans are not always available for international borrowers, so cash or funds from investment accounts may be your best option.

Remember, each country will have its own rules and laws that apply to foreigners buying local property, so make sure to check with local regulations before investing your money in the country of interest.

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