I am Canadian (European, Russian, etc.) citizen. Can I purchase real estate in the US?
Yes, anybody can own a property in the US.
Are there any special steps that need to be followed or anything done differently for non-US citizens?
No. When you purchase a property in the US, your process is no different from an American citizen and you can read more about it here:
https://www.tampa4u.com/buyers.html AND http://invest.tampa4u.com/
When you sell real estate, by default, the US government will withhold 10% for taxes, but from what I've heard from title companies, you might get most of it back, after the taxes are reassessed. You can read more about it here.
Can I get a loan in the US?
Yes, you can, but US banks are very strict right now so they might require more downpayment and/or offer higher interest rates. We can give you phone numbers of local mortgage professionals who can answer all your questions about mortgages in the US.
How much are the closing costs?
It depends on the property, purchase price, and whether or not you have a loan. If you pay cash - your closing costs would be around 1% of purchase price, more or less; if you have mortgage - it would be around 3-7% more or less depending on the loan.
What are the most common expenses of ownership?
Utilities (water, electric, cable TV, etc.) - costs will vary depending on usage; Community fees if any - vary by community; Property Insurance - varies depending on the area, property and insurance company; Property Taxes - calculated by the county based on assessed value and county tax rate. Check out this Utility Estimator by address.
Are these costs higher for me because I am not a US citizen?
No, but government offers certain tax breaks for property taxes to primary residence owners so none of the investors or second home owners qualify, regardless of nationality.
"I want a good deal, send me properties" - You need to be more specific: what is your definition of "good deal"? What are you looking to achieve or do with the property? How much are you willing to spend? The more you tell us, the better we will be able to understand your goals.
How much less than the asking price we can offer?
There are no set rules, but we advise to make reasonable and educated offers based on the market conditions of that area and product. We can help you study the market in that area and figure out the best offer price accordingly. In most of the areas here, statistically homes are selling for 93-97% of the asking price. If deal is very good and there are multiple offers - it could sell for more than the asking price.
If I pay cash, how much will it influence the asking price (versus having mortgage)?
Each case is different and depends on the seller. Sellers do like cash buyers, but in our experience, cash doesn't guarantee you a better price - in the end it doesn't matter much for the seller where the money are coming from - from the individual or from the bank. But cash does make your offer stronger and more attractive, especially if there are multiple offers.
What is the tax rate on rental income?
It depends on your tax bracket. For more specific computations, we can give you the phone numbers of some local accountants.
What's the downpayment LTV we can get for financing the deals?
It's depends on the loan you qualify for. You would need to speak to a mortgage professional to see what kind of loan and terms you can get. We can give you the phone numbers of some local mortgage brokers.
RENTAL and INVESTMENT properties in US:
If you seriously want to invest in real estate in the US, you should seek professional advice from a real estate attorney and accountant who can help you set up your business and accounting/taxes in order. Let me know if you wish me to connect you with some professionals in our area.