buying a house in the USA

Buying a house in the USA – A step by step guide

Buying a house in the USA could be the first step toward the American dream.

Buying real estate abroad is now common practice for more and more investors and the USA is definitely one of the most sought after places to buy investment properties.

According to the National Association of Realtors, foreign buyers spent more than $68.2 billion buying residential real estate in one year, across all 50 states. That is more than 6% of the total value spent to buy residential real estate in the USA.

Buying a house, particularly in another country can be daunting.

So, to give you an idea of what to expect if you are planning to buy real estate in the USA, here is a step by step guide to take you through the entire process and to avoid common pitfalls.

Choosing what to buy

First you need to find the right property for you.

There is, of course a lot to choose from when buying a house in the USA. If you are looking for a great bargain you can start by looking here:

Once you found the right property to buy, what do you do next?


Specific procedures vary from state to state, between counties and even cities, so you will need look up what is the specific procedure adopted in the area where you are planning to buy real estate.

Contact a local real estate agent

It can be helpful to contact a local real estate agent and ask him to explain to you what the local procedure is and to lead you through the process.

To give you a rough idea of what to expect, here is the procedure adopted in New York City

Hiring a real estate attorney

When buying a house in the USA first you need to hire a real estate attorney who will handle all the aspects of the property transaction.

Make an offer

Once you decided how much you are willing to spend, simply tell your agent what your offer is and he will pass it on to the seller or the seller’s agent.

The seller may make a counter offer and other details may be agreed at this stage, until both you and the seller are satisfied with the conditions of the sale.

Contract of sale

Once the offer has been accepted the contract of sale will start to be prepared by the seller’s attorney whom will obtain and review:

The deed


Title insurance policy

Promissory notes or mortgages on the property

Certificates of occupancy

Tax bills

Fuel and utility bills


Permits for elevator




In the meantime your attorney will inspect the financial condition of the condominium where the property you want to buy is located.

Your attorney will also review:

The contract deed

Title search

Title insurance policy


Certificate of occupancy

Real property tax bill

Heating, cooling and electric bills


Signing the contract

After all has been reviewed by your attorney you will decide if all the conditions are satisfactory to you. If you are happy enough to proceed, you will be in the position to sign the contract.


A deposit of 10% of the purchase price will be required.

The seller’s attorney’s escrow account will held the deposit  until closing.

Once the deposit has been paid, the contract that you signed will be forwarded to the seller to be signed by him as well.

Board requirements and application materials

If you are buying in a condo, the sale will be conditioned upon the Board of Managers´ Waiver of the Right of First Refusal.

For this purpose your real estate agent will give you the board requirements and application materials.

You will need to provide any documentation the condominium board requests in order to issue the waiver.

The required materials typically include:

An application

Financial statement signed by a Certified Public Accountant

All requisite support for your financial statement

Three years of tax returns

Bank statements

Letters of personal and financial reference

Letters of professional reference

Contract of sale


If everything is in order the waiver is issued and you can proceed with the closing ceremonies.

Closing ceremonies

The closing will usually take place at the office of the seller’s attorney with all parties present.

Documents are finalized and money is exchanged at the closing.


When buying a house in the USA you need to take into account additional costs related to the purchase of real estate. These include:

The fees to record the deed and the mortgage

Utility bills

Escrow fees

Bank attorney’s fee


Special assessments

Financing charges

Inspection fees

Origination fees


The state and local government may impose other fees.

Congratulations! You were successful in buying a house in the USA.

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