Home purchase in the United States1 seems a hard way of making overseas investments. This article essentially aims at highlighting on the strong relationship between the citizenship and the exercise of the right to property and also analyzing domestic legal requirements for foreign persons2 interested in buying real property within the USA.
2. Why is the right to property very important?
The right to property is guaranteed by leading international instruments including the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms.
Full Text of the Convention is available online here.
Pursuant to Article 1 of Protocol No:1, everybody is 'entitled to the peaceful enjoyment of his possessions. No one shall be deprived of his possessions except in the public interest and subject to the conditions provided for by law and by the general principles of international law'.3 Similarly, Article 17 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights enshrines the right to own property. In the aforementioned considerations, the right to protection of property is an internationally guaranteed right.
3. Why is real estate investment in foreign states considered as very significant?
There has been an economic downturn and turmoil over the world. Despite such financial collapse, the unlimited power of famous currencies increases day by day. Under those circumstances, it is very normal to see that people are very keen on making appropriate investments beyond national borders. Real estate investment plays a significant role in meeting demand of particularly commercial enterprises. But, the related non-resident investor should find the right land or entity together with the right country at the right time.
4. Why are the real estate investment disputes very complex?
Real estate law is directly relevant to the implementation of various branches of law, including tax law, citizenship law and administrative law. Cases arising from real estate are, therefore, regarded as very complex and always take a long time. Every single dispute requires extensive work based on due diligence for a proper settlement.
5. What is the relationship between the term of citizenship and the right to property?
According to internationally established principles, citizenship may be acquired at birth or through naturalization subsequent to birth. The Law on Turkish Citizenship (No:5901) has similar provisions.
The Law in question is available online here (in Turkish).
Real estate law generally involves the permanent possession of, the control of, the use of ownership for any entity. The exercise of civil, economic and social rights, including the right to property basically depends on the enjoyment of citizenship according to domestic legislations. Moreover, the rise in the number of foreign investors is seen as a matter of concern by many countries over the world. National governments may, therefore, put serious legal conditions upon alien persons or foreign corporations with a view to protecting domestic products or services and social or cultural position. However, few states do not ask citizenship for the possession of a real property. Even more, under real estate law systems, the acquisition of citizenship depends on some legal necessities, such as the ownership of a real estate in the country concerned. The possession of a house is considered as an easy way of the provision of citizenship by foreigners in those states.
But having said that, the acquisition of real estate does not give foreigners a direct chance to acquire the USA citizenship. Moreover, owning a house does not automatically lead to securing a green card. But, a purchased house might be used as a pathway to the residence permit or investor visa through an investment within the border of the USA. It is, therefore, remarkable that the enjoyment of a home may make the USA permanent residence much easier in the long term.
6. Is foreign ownership of a real estate property very hard in the USA?
Domestic legal conditions for a home purchase may essentially vary from state to state based on citizenship law. That is the case for the USA. Nevertheless, it is remarkable that buying a house does not depend on the citizenship certificate or residence permit in the USA. National legal regime, impose certain legal requirements on foreign corporations or real persons for any investment in the USA. The involved requirements may be composed of tax payment4 and registration obligation5. Such regulations may be regarded as "procedures" or to some extent "limitations" , rather than "prohibitions" for inbound investments. Thus, non-USA citizens are granted an opportunity to buy an entity provided that they meet the necessities in question. Real estate purchase is easier, contrary to popular belief if the right legal process is taken according to the relevant legal framework.
In the light of the aforementioned explanations, it should be remembered that citizenship is not a precondition to home purchase in the USA; but home purchase may be used as a potential gate to the USA residence permit. We should emphasize that a citizenship certificate or residence permit is not required to enjoy a house located in the USA. Without a green card or USA citizenship certificate, it is possible to buy a home. Foreign home buyers are required to only meet some procedures such as carrying out taxation and other obligations for the possession of a house in the USA.
1 Hereinafter as "the USA" in this article.
2 The term of "foreign person", as used in this article, contains: a corporation, established or formed pursuant to law within a jurisdiction other than the United States or any other state; an individual who is neither an American citizen nor a resident of the United States.
3 See official Website of European Court of Human Rights for this Article, "Official Texts", https://echr.coe.int/Documents/Convention_ENG.pdf , accessed 31 March 2022.
4 The Foreign Investment in Real Property Tax Act of 1980 and the Internal Revenue Code of 1986.
5 See the International Investment Survey Act of 1976.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.