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Mortgage for foreign nationals - Help!

Mortgage for foreign nationals - Help!

Old Jan 11th 2010, 8:22 pm
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Default Mortgage for foreign nationals - Help!

I will be moving to Florida with my wife and family on an L1 Visa in June. We were hoping to buy a property, luckily we have a very good credit history and have managed to buy our home outright in the UK which we plan to rent out. Our potential mortgage broker in Florida has just told me this: "With your status (L1) I am afraid I will not have a loan product available for you. We had loans in the past for foreign nationals that had decent terms but those programs have dried up. I thought I still had an investor willing to do them, but I have looked into that since my earlier email and they have discontinued the product".
Can anyone offer any advice or has found a way round this scenario - i know the US banking system (as the UK one) is a mess but i am unpleasantly surprised by this news. I am not looking to borrow a fortune, around a multiple of 2x my salary and i have more than 10 years employment history with the company i am relocating to work at in Florida. Is it the case that foreign nationals cannot get a mortgage?
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Old Jan 11th 2010, 8:26 pm
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Default Re: Mortgage for foreign nationals - Help!

Don't give up, but most mortgage has dried up in US, with Banks mostly underwriting under FHA government guarantee.

Worst Case, rent for a few months while things stabilize. It will also give you a little time to become well acquainted with the "details" of your target location to let you choose extra-wisely.

At least in Houston, several firms market mortgage packages on the radio in Spanish specifically for illegal immigrants, so something must be available. Try another Mortgage Broker...
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Old Jan 11th 2010, 10:05 pm
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Default Re: Mortgage for foreign nationals - Help!

Originally Posted by Desinflorida View Post
Is it the case that foreign nationals cannot get a mortgage?
No..it's a case of you having no US credit history or credit score.

Plenty of threads and a good wiki to advice you on what you can do though....but you don't want to buy when you first move here anyway, rent for 6-12 months and you'll have a much better idea of things before buying.

Shop around too...some places just don't need the business so don't bother. Where the missus worked, they denied some bloke who only wanted $75K loan for a house, he was putting $500K cash down and had a huge salary, but he was only doing it so as not to own the house outright to qualify for student loans for his kid or some such.
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Old Jan 11th 2010, 11:13 pm
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Default Re: Mortgage for foreign nationals - Help!

Whatever you do, don't touch a mortgage broker in FL. You'll get shafted and, at best, end up with a hard money loan.

Talk to some realtors, ask about local banks used to dealing with expats. Stress the point that you're moving, not buying a vacation property. Look for big firms that employ foreigners and ask around those areas - even, be cheeky and call HR in those firms to pick their brains, you might get one helpful steer out of a bunch of "bugger offs".

Oh, and if anybody even mentions the word "condo", rip off their head and shit down the stump.
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Old Jan 14th 2010, 5:22 am
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Default Re: Mortgage for foreign nationals - Help!

Thanks for your replies. I appreciate your advice. FYI Bank of America told me that for any foreign national they require 2 years employment history in America - which i dont have, but at least I can rule them out. I do have more positive signals from a small local bank in FL who look at the individual not as a number. I am meeting them soon and will report back. I may well rent first but considering buying to give my family some stability for 4 years (same school area, same neighbourhood) which is important after an international relocation. Ideally I would rent the 'right' house for 4 years! I dont want to play the housing market to make (or lose!) money - i just dont want more upheaval!
Again thanks for your help.
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Old Jan 14th 2010, 6:12 am
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Default Re: Mortgage for foreign nationals - Help!

we used sirva mortgages when we arrived 3 years ago...

but to be honest things have changed alot.... I couldn't get a 30k car loan because I didnt have "enough" credit history....thats after 2 years 10 months here with perfect credit! (and a greencard)

It's all screwed up, at least it hasn't affected the bank exec's bonuses!!
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Old Jan 14th 2010, 11:44 am
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Default Re: Mortgage for foreign nationals - Help!

Originally Posted by Desinflorida View Post
Thanks for your replies. I appreciate your advice. FYI Bank of America told me that for any foreign national they require 2 years employment history in America - which i dont have, but at least I can rule them out. I do have more positive signals from a small local bank in FL who look at the individual not as a number. I am meeting them soon and will report back. I may well rent first but considering buying to give my family some stability for 4 years (same school area, same neighbourhood) which is important after an international relocation. Ideally I would rent the 'right' house for 4 years! I dont want to play the housing market to make (or lose!) money - i just dont want more upheaval!
Again thanks for your help.
Have you talked to your HR dept? My OH's company had a great "understanding" with our local bank and were used to dealing with people coming over ....it helped get us loans etc. But we did rent for the first 2 years, which for us was the best decicion.
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Old Jan 14th 2010, 12:03 pm
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Default Re: Mortgage for foreign nationals - Help!

I agree with others who have posted in this thread. Probably would be a good idea to rent first. Its really hard to know if you will be totally happy with an area until you've lived there for a little while. I've seen many people move abroad and jump right into buying a house first, only to wish they had waited a few months and got a feel for the area.

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Old Jan 14th 2010, 2:38 pm
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Default Re: Mortgage for foreign nationals - Help!

Originally Posted by Sue View Post
I agree with others who have posted in this thread. Probably would be a good idea to rent first. Its really hard to know if you will be totally happy with an area until you've lived there for a little while. I've seen many people move abroad and jump right into buying a house first, only to wish they had waited a few months and got a feel for the area.
Agree completely. renting for a year or so makes so much sense when you don't know the area you're moving to.

As for mortgages, the problem is that the federal government in the shape of Fannie Mae/FHA really is pretty much the only game in town right now as they are the only ones buying and/or insuring mortgages at the moment. So you're stuck with their rules, however arbitrary, regardless of which bank actually originates the loan.
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Old Jan 14th 2010, 2:59 pm
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Default Re: Mortgage for foreign nationals - Help!

Originally Posted by Desinflorida View Post
FYI Bank of America told me that for any foreign national they require 2 years employment history in America - which i dont have, but at least I can rule them out.
We got our mortgage with Bank of America in October 2008 on L1 Visas 6 months after arriving. Of course their 'rules' have maybe changed since then. Also you may find you get 3 different answers talking to 3 different people - I know we did.

My only advice is don't do it over the internet/phone. Get here and sit down in front of a person - we did it online/phone and it was a huge PITA.
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Old Jan 14th 2010, 3:14 pm
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Default Re: Mortgage for foreign nationals - Help!

Originally Posted by ChocolateBabz View Post
We got our mortgage with Bank of America in October 2008 on L1 Visas 6 months after arriving. Of course their 'rules' have maybe changed since then. Also you may find you get 3 different answers talking to 3 different people - I know we did.
I suspect the OP probably spoke with a regular BoA employee in a branch or a call center. Those folks don't know anything about foreign national stuff.

BoA does have a special department for dealing with FNs, that organises mortgages, car loans etc. Usually, folks get put in touch with them through their employer's HR dept, but it should be possible to contact them directly with a bit of phoning around.
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Old Jan 15th 2010, 2:05 am
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Default Re: Mortgage for foreign nationals - Help!

Even someone with perfect credit will find it's much harder to get a mortgage these days, and you have no credit (UK credit history counts for zip in the US). I was staggered at how many more hoops I had to jump through for a refi last year compared to the original loan four years ago, even though my credit score is higher, my finances are better and the house apprasied for the same as it did when we bought it.

IMO any new L1 arrival with zero US credit can kiss goodbye to the idea of getting a mortgage from a US bank these days, even with a monster downpayment. Might want to try an overseas mortgage from a UK bank instead or (as others ahve suggested) just renting, especially in the current depressed housing market that still shows no signs of life.

Last edited by wordfool; Jan 15th 2010 at 2:11 am.
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Old Jan 15th 2010, 3:09 am
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Default Re: Mortgage for foreign nationals - Help!

Originally Posted by wordfool View Post
IMO any new L1 arrival with zero US credit can kiss goodbye to the idea of getting a mortgage from a US bank these days, even with a monster downpayment. Might want to try an overseas mortgage from a UK bank instead or (as others ahve suggested) just renting, especially in the current depressed housing market that still shows no signs of life.
Unnecessarily pessimistic, IMHO. Several folks have reported getting mortgages despite the current climate. Plus - the suggestion that there is a homogeneous housing market across the USA is a fallacy. Many areas have felt far less pain than CA, FL etc.
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Old Jan 15th 2010, 5:55 am
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Default Re: Mortgage for foreign nationals - Help!

Thanks again for the replies. I had a bad experience with a bank of america call centre. When I got through to the foreign national desk and explained my circumstances they asked for a contact number which i gave and then the girl said that she couldnt call back internationally! I may try again but it seems the local options are more attractive. A broker in FL has made positive noises but a 70% LTV, i guess not so dissimilar to the UK today. I could raise the cash in the UK but dont want to take the exchange rate risk as i will be coming back to the UK in 4 years and if the exchange rate goes 20% the wrong way it will be painful. The housing markets will never recover unless banks take a reasonable view, they were far too relaxed and now too tight in the extreme. Thanks to the comments made I am being influenced towards a rental but there is a very limited choice of family property for rent in the school areas i want to be in it seems. I am suggesting to some realtors that they contact some frustrated sellers who have marketed their property for some time without success who may be attracted by a good tenant and his family. I would be if i were in their position! Again thanks for your comments.
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Old Jan 15th 2010, 8:19 am
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Default Re: Mortgage for foreign nationals - Help!

One thing you can do is a contract for deed

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Land_contract

It is not as desirable as a mortgage, and more risky to you, possibly more so in florida with the liberal bankruptcy laws there... but, there are currently many people desperate to sell, so, you can no doubt find people willing to do this. a contract for deed can be converted into a mortgage at any point in the future provided you can find a bank or CU willing to give you a mortgage. You should of course get advice from a professional who has experience with this type of transaction. There's probably a book or two that's specific to the question, or that at least covers the question. When it comes to legal and financial advice, books published by NOLO (nolo.com) have seemed to be pretty good to me in the past.

As far as banks go, my advice is to avoid them if at all possible. There's often no need or reason to feed those pigs. Go with a credit union instead, for most if not all of your banking needs. Avoid a small credit union, go for one with a large customer base so that their product offering and their customer service will be better. Most CUs pool certain resources and services, such as ATMs, so in this respect the difference from one CU to the next can be more than you might expect (but not exclusively) a question of customer service than of actual differences in product offerings. There's a government web site you can locate via google that allows you to look up stats on CUs... total assets... number of members... that can give you a rough idea of if the CU is really small or not. eligibility to join a CU is typically based on affiliation with an employer or more commonly geographic location of your residence. Also, if you join ASCAP (ascap.com) you will then be eligible to join a relatively large CU with which ASCAP is affiliated.

I don't know if CUs are less willing to loan to an alien... CUs can be more conservative in what risks they will take... but if you can get a loan from a CU, you will often get a better deal than if you get a loan from a bank... CUs are non-profit, so, there you go... Certainly, in parts of Florida, there would be CUs that serve immigrant communities, e.g. the Cuban community. Those might be your best bet, as an alien, for getting a loan, since they probably do that all the time.

I hope this helps!
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