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Why, or When?
WHY would anyone want to buy a house in the U.S.? |
Buying a house in the U.S. is attractive for those who live in the U.S., because the mortgage interest can be used to deduct taxable income. If you do not intend to file a tax return in the U.S., that is of no value.
Most people buy on credit (borrowing) since that gives them the leverage - if they paid 20% down, and the price went up 10%, they would have made 50% on the investment (or something like that). Many Chinese from overseas (Mainland, Hong Kong, Taiwan) used to buy on easy qualifiers - usually with 30% down, and the lender did not care about credit history (or lack of same), with an interest rate perhaps 1% higher than the usual. But those hay days are gone. Today you need a GOOD credit record to get a loan. No loan, no leverage.
Real estate in the U.S. is VERY illiquid. While buying is relatively easy (the flip side of illiquid) if you have the credit, trying to sell in a down or stagnant market could take years. So you need to mentally write off the block of money sunk into the house.
IF you are no living in the house, you need to either rent it out or somehow maintain it. Renting out a single property can be a lot of hassle, especially if you are not near by. If you live in Beijing, would you consider buying a hovel in Sichuan and have to worry about renting it out?
But if you are really set on buying a house, you have your own reason, etc., then at least take a look at buying REO - houses that are foreclosed. You can at least save 15 to 20% off the market price. Takes a little more work (since you most likely will need to fix up the place). But never pay retail. IF you buy where the Chinese congregate, it is likely you would be able to use the services of the very affordable Chinese contractors - who typically charge 1/3 lower than the gweilo. BUT of course it is always caveat emptor. Do not pay anything until the job is done.
There is a stock site in America that called Seeking Alpha. They have a section on real estate that as of late has a weekly analysis on the various markets, and how they are performing, etc. That could be a good beginning place for researching where and when.
Actually there could indeed be opportunities for those with more resources (e.g., pool the funds of a few) and go do buying and fixing up REOs, starting perhaps 2009 to 2010. Need to put a crew together to do the refurb work though - American building contractors are notorious for being overpriced and doing shody work.