Senators Propose Bill to Give Visas to Foreigners Buying Pricey Homes

Norhill Realty December 26, 2011

Considering the affordability of Houston Real Estate and our huge immigrant population,this bill could be a real boon for the local Houston luxury home market.  Senator Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Senator Mike Lee (R-Utah) introduced legislation Thursday to encourage foreigners into buying homes by offering them Visas in return for the purchase.  The legislation would create a new homeowner visa that would be renewable every three years, but the proposal would not put them on a path to citizenship. To be eligible, a person would have to buy a primary residence of at least $250,000 and spend a total of $500,000 on residential real estate.

According to the Senators, the program would come with several restrictions:

  1. The purchase would have to be in cash, with no mortgage or home equity loan allowed.
  2. The property would have to be bought for more than its most recent appraised value.
  3. The buyer would have to live in the home for at least 180 days each year, which would require paying U.S. income taxes on any foreign earnings.
  4. Buyers would no longer be eligible for the temporary visa if the property were sold.
  5. The buyer would be able to bring a spouse and minor children to live in the U.S. but would need to apply for a work visa to hold a job. Neither the buyer nor dependents would be eligible to receive Medicaid, Medicare or Social Security benefits.

This bill could really have an impact on upscale Houston neighborhoods, like Montrose Houston, the Museum District, Museum Park, Oak Forest, River Oaks, Afton Oaks, Memorial Villages, Southampton, Bellaire, Houston Heights, Uptown, Upper Kirby, West University, and the Texas Medical Center surrounding neighborhoods.143

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