Real Estate Questions Answered Here
by Art Santellen, REALTOR®
Q: ¿Quiero saber si uno tiene que tener documentos para comprar una casa?
(Translation: Do you need to be a U.S. citizen to buy a house?)
A: No, you do not need to be a U.S. citizen to buy a house.
Lots of non-citizens can and do buy real estate in the U.S. In fact, the most recent statistics I looked at say that the top three nations buying U.S. land are England, Canada and Japan. You need to remember that individual foreign nationals that buy U.S. land do so with CASH.
If you need a federal (FHA) or even a non-government conventional mortgage loan to buy a home, you still don't have to be a U.S. citizen, but there are some rules you have to follow.
So here are the rules: if you are not a citizen of the U.S., you need to be a permanent resident alien with a valid INS card or, "Green Card" (Mica) and Social Security number. Or, you can be a temporary resident alien with a valid work permit and a valid Social Security number. You must also have been in the United States continuously for the last 2 years, had steady employment and established a good credit history.
If you purchased your social security card off a street vendor, you should not be able to get a mortgage loan. Especially if you used a government program like FHA or CHFA to get the loan. False social security cards and false documents, if included in a mortgage loan application, is called mortgage fraud and you could go to jail.
In spite of all this, I suspect some real estate agents and mortgage lenders still process home loans for people who have used false documents and lied on the loan application. The fact is, that there doesn't seem to be a really good way to check if the social security number is false or not. Well, there really is a good way, but some mortgage lenders just don't seem to want to pick up the phone and call the Social Security Administration. Here, then, is a true future story....just for you.
You decide to use your false social security card and false INS Alien Registration Card to get a loan to buy a house. After all, you have lots of friends and relatives who've done the same and are happily living in their new home. You've been in the U.S. for over 6 years, paid your federal and state taxes, so you believe you're owed the benefits of citizenship in this country. Sure enough, you get the loan and you buy your home. You and your family move in and everyone is happy. Nice story, so far.
After about 6 years, your 10 year old son is now 16. The sweet little boy is now a sullen and angry teenager. Just for fun, your son decides it would be cool to shoot the neighbor's dog with a pellet gun. Your neighbor is not laughing. So he calls the police. The police arrive and get the neighbor's side of the story. Just to emphasize the mistreatment your neighbor feels he has suffered, he tells the policeman, "To add insult to injury, those people next door bought their home and they're not even citizens!!" "What?", the policeman stutters. "You mean to tell me that I can't get a loan because of credit problems caused by my divorce, but they can?", the policeman asks.
Well, to make things worse, the policeman belongs to a group called, Colorado for Native-Born Coloradoans. The group is fighting mad that so many people are moving into Colorado and now they're even madder that illegal aliens are able to buy a home when they can't.
Then, all of a sudden, the District Attorney and Federal Prosecutor is asking you, your real estate agent and your mortgage loan officer really embarrassing questions...none of which have anything to do with your son shooting the neighbor's dog.
Uncle Art's fearless forecast: the day will come when a lot of real estate agents will be joining a lot of mortgage loan officers in court and a lot of undocumented former home owners will be renting.
NOTE: I'd like to thank Fran V. for sending in that very interesting question (a couple of years ago). I'd also like to thank the good folks at Well Fargo Home Mortgage for helping me research the answer. Next week, another question sent to me via email which I promise to answer next week, right here, in Hispania News.
Steps to buying a
Finding a Realtor
Writing the Offer
The Loan Application
The Home Inspection
The Home Appraisal
Art Santellen is a licensed real estate professional with Intrepid Realty in Colorado Springs.
News Flash: Art is also a Home Mortgage Consultant with Wells Fargo Home Mortgage!! If you have a question you'd like answered, please send them to Art care of Hispania News PO Box 15116, Colorado Springs, CO 80935. You may also send your question directly at Art via email at ASantellen@hotmail.com. Or call him at his Wells Fargo Office: (719) 381-1114.