View Full Version : Anyone from the UK invested in USA property?

2nd May 2012, 22:29
Hi All,

Has anyone in the UK here invested in USA property? How do you go about it (safely)?

Persumably it's cheapest to use a reputable UK company who organises such things rather than start flying accross the Atlantic?

(Googling just brings up lots of small companies offering to 'help' arrange things, but they all look amateurish.)



3rd May 2012, 00:24
Check your PM's :O

Loose rivets
3rd May 2012, 00:55
Done it for 30 years. Will come back after dinner.

3rd May 2012, 12:10
Friend bought a lovely villa in Florida. It was very reasonably priced. Afterwards he found he couldn't get it insured*. When the tropical storm season started, he found out why.

Moral to this story is go there first - several times - make friends with locals. They know things.

* Insured that is in respect of Acts of God. Other possible problems were insurable.

Anyone from Florida on this thread ? Is it true that in some parts of Florida you can't get "storm insurance" ? Like for houses built 5' above the water line ?

3rd May 2012, 13:49
Moral to this story is go there first - several times - make friends with locals. They know things.

You saying the locals don't have insurance ? Seems unlikely in the USA.

3rd May 2012, 13:55
Moral to this story is go there first - several times - make friends with locals. They know things.

Indeed. One had an eccentric aunt once who aspired to retire to the Scillies, having enjoyed it often on holidays. Decided she needed to visit the place separately during every month of the year before she committed herself.

Good plan but sad ending - she never did make it ..... :(

Effluent Man
3rd May 2012, 16:10
A friend of a business acquaintence just sold his Florida property for $100,000.He bought it a few years back for $240,000.

3rd May 2012, 16:36

Is there a reason that the price was down so much, one specific to the house or area? Or is that how bad things have crashed in the US?

3rd May 2012, 16:56

That type of home value drop is not uncommon here in the U.S.
The Mrs. bought her Condo back in 2005 for $170,000.
It has been recently appraised, by several appraisers, at $115,000.

The house we currently live in was bought by the previous owner for $345,000 back in 1996.

We bought it from him for $215,000 late last year. And the price we paid was higher than any bid he had received but we wanted the house badly. Most other bids were around $200,000.

3rd May 2012, 17:37
Good news for you, RGB, but bad for those who splashed out in the first case.

3rd May 2012, 17:40
That's the way it is in a lot of cases, hellsbrink. Now is the time
to buy as market indicators are showing that the US housing market has basically bottomed out. Buy cheap now and sell high later.
That's one of the reasons we bought our home. (Although I doubt we'll ever sell it as we'll both probably die in it. We like it that much!!!)

Effluent Man
3rd May 2012, 17:50
That's exactly right.I moved towards the end of last year and spent more than I had intended but got almost an acre in a nice area and a detached annex that I can let for holidays.If prices fall some more I don't really care.

3rd May 2012, 17:57

Although the "price was right" for our home that was not the sole reason we bought it. We bought it because we were - as the Brits say - gob smacked by it. And, yes, who cares about the vagaries of the market when one lives in the home they plan on living in until the end?!

There are many similar properties in our neck of the woods. (Literally, the woods. Our neck of the woods in on Candlewood Lake in Sherman CT, on a hilltop about 750' above the lake surrounded by my favorite environment: forests. Where I get to make believe I'm still a Ranger!!!!!

The prospect of living in CT is indeed scary. However, we are very fortunate in that the area we live in is not at all like the rest of this god-forsaken State. Very fortunate indeed.

Homes in the area that used to sell for $500,000, with lots of lots of property surrounding the home, now go for about 1/2 of that or, in some cases, less. I recently noted a very nice home, right on the lake shore itself, which originally listed for $435,000, now lists for $198,00!!! (Including boat dock.)

3rd May 2012, 18:25
My wife thought the same of our home at first: the boondocks, the middle of nowhere, Oshkosh, the dark side of the moon, etc.

We were sitting out on the front deck facing the lake the other night, listening to the wildlife as they embarked on their nocturnal activities and she said to me: "I don't ever want to leave here."

What are YOU going to do, BandAide? Offer them $158,000 and be done with it, aren't you?!!!!

3rd May 2012, 18:32
My info is secondhand; several friends in Canada have just returned from overwintering in Florida. I am looking at property in SoCal/Arizona.
The crash has been much bigger than one might think from the UK.
EM has a good point about "nice area". Be aware that formerly "nice areas" may now be ghost towns or "drug alley". I would not buy without spending some time in the area. There are lots of local factors. One area I was looking at in a nice town has lots of cheap properties. So much so that LA has just bought lots and is using it for drug rehabilitation half-way houses. Needless to say the crime level has rocketed and that's off my list. I doubt a real estate company will tell you this!
Also, though the market may have hit bottom, it will probably be quite a while before it comes back up again.

Have you considered Canada for property? The market is stable, and if you are looking at non-winter use it's great. Where I am, an acre in delightful countryside cost me $10,000 and I am allowed to build my own place - planning permission cost $190 and took 30 minutes, and the nice lady did most of it for me. Also, the healthcare is brilliant here.

Loose rivets
3rd May 2012, 18:40
I wrote a big ramble earlier, but scrapped it. Without more knowledge of your aims, it's hard to make comment.

Just a few words.

Wooden houses can be ticky-tack. Termites and fire just a-waitin'. Some of the lovely old wooden houses are worth restoring, but can be lost in the blink of an eye. Having said that, the house we've often used for 30 years was made of natural stone, concrete, steel and glass. It was destroyed in a second by lightning. Not at all a rare occurrence in the US.

Autoclaved blocks are at last becoming available. Celcon to us Brits.

Don't trust people aiming for foreign investors. They may be fine, but probably won't.

House inspection is what we call a survey in the UK. The land survey and/or Title Insurance is quite a different matter.

A neighborhood may look nice, and then you notice odd things on the mailboxes. You find you have to join a gang to live in that street.:eek: Mainly kidding, but an uncomfortable amount of truth in that tale.

Land. One heck of a lot you have to know about boundary rights. Rights of way. Who gets the first and sometimes, the only shot at putting a road in. You have to know.

Water and electricity. Probably don't bother with gas unless you're in a cold place. We like our gas, but in a hot state it doesn't really justify the flat rate you're stuck with paying.

If you pull the water out of a well, you have to know everything about aquifers, pumps, power to the pumps, pumping water up hills. Quality of the water all year round, keeping sunlight off your stored water, etc., etc.


Poo, and where to send it. Not into an aquifer, that's for sure.

You also have to know that you have to pay (reduced) property tax even on undeveloped land.

Get your taxes in perfect order. Make sure you don't end up paying for the same deal on both sides of the Atlantic. I speak from experience here.

I loved living in the wilds, but I had a mass of heavy tools, and several guns. And lots of bottled water. And gas. (petrol.) Fire extinguishers, and lots of other girly things.

Mind you, and extinguisher wouldn't have helped this.


In the blink of the Sheriff's daughters eye. She was looking straight at it when it turned to a ball of fire.


3rd May 2012, 19:59
Have known people to invest in US and then run away when prices collapsed and couldn't get tenants.

Got friends in AZ who have suggested buying there and they would look after but even then they were very clear that yup there are lots of cheap properties out there BUT as quickly as a city grows it can decline.

3rd May 2012, 20:16
As Loose Rivets pointed out, you may well need a lot more equipment than in the UK; Lawn tractor, ATV, guns (for the wild animals, not people), chainsaw, assorted big power tools. That's the bad news. The good news is...the same thing! Boys and toys.

guess who just got a new lawn tractor today!

Metro man
4th May 2012, 00:47
Lots of TV adverts running in this part of the world for USA property at the moment. Buy 6 houses for US$200 000 and get a free set of steak knives.

Personally I would visit each house before committing, estate agents are on the level of used car salesmen when it comes to honesty. Buyers from out of the area are less likely to know the going rate for a property and will compare the price to what they would pay at home. The high tension power lines crossing over the back garden and the crack house two doors down the street may not make it into the brochure.

I'm sure there are a few bargains available for astute buyers who do their homework.

Property in Detroit and New Jersey may be cheap for a good reason.:hmm:



4th May 2012, 07:05
Certainly an eye opener for me as the local market house price is around 425,000. :hmm:

4th May 2012, 07:20
Fed Reports Trouble in Florida Property Market

Fed Reports Trouble in Florida Property Market (http://www.nuwireinvestor.com/articles/fed-reports-trouble-in-florida-property-market-58870.aspx)

4th May 2012, 09:31
Metroman is complimentary about estate agents - used car salesmen are honest in comparison.

4th May 2012, 13:11
I know of some really inexpensive properties in Hartford, CT, USA. You could probably buy an entire apartment block for under $100k US.

However, you might not want to live there. If you do decide to take up residence in "New England's Rising Star" then I would suggest enlisting the services of the US 10th Mountain Division (Infantry of course) to take up residence with you. They MIGHT help.

4th May 2012, 13:25
The US is really a large place compared to current UK, so generalizations are risky.

It has been predicted by some folks that the US housing market MAY not rebound for "a generation". Certainly the 'bottom' of the market has been predicted several times already recently and the decline continues.

In my own case, local property taxes are one of the biggest cripplers of home sales. An attractive three bedroom home on an acre in a decent neighborhood may carry a US$20,000 or more property pricetag, which is not a great selling point. Closer to NYC it may double that, or more.

The fact that so many people remain out of work or grotesquely underemployed has kept the market soft, as has the fact that a delivery of home heating oil can cost over four figures and may not last two months in a cold snap.

So it looks like buying investment property in much of the US these days is really a very long term investment.

4th May 2012, 13:42

let me guess: you live in Nassau County? Or, since I left LI a long time ago and have no idea anymore, in Suffolk Co.?

(My parents had a home in Stony Brook. At the time they had 3/4 acre of land and their taxes reached $10k/yr. And that was back in the early '90's!)

4th May 2012, 15:46

Bali and then Queensland? Obviously you're going to fly there. (Unless you are one hell of a swimmer.)

If you fly yourself could you do me a favor? Make a slight detour over St. Thomas USVI? Bolongo Bay is on the southeast corner of the island. That's where I want to live my remaining days raking beach sand. No need for you to land at STT though.
The Mrs. and I will have parachutes ready. If there's no static line on the aircraft we'll make do.


Loose rivets
4th May 2012, 21:48
Mmmm . . . I so loved the life down on the coast at Frinton, that I tried commuting to Luton by air. It was only a single, and worked well, but the thought of what might go wrong brought me to my senses after a while.

And, that was in the days of Ten and sixpence landing fees . . . even at the main London airports. Seems impossible now.

might have to settle for less, maybe a Duchess If you could find a Duchess that Slash would approve of, I'd get one of those and travel first class.