Buying Advice

The Best Ways To Prepare for an International Home Purchase

In Hawaii’s highly competitive real estate market, the best offers come from the most prepared buyers. This article will better prepare you to submit a concise offer, whether you have just found the perfect home to purchase or are about to begin your search as an international buyer.

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A home seller’s top 3 questions about any buyer’s purchase contract will be in regards to the offer amount, proof of funds, and closing date. The primary differences an international buyer faces in purchasing a home in Hawaii are having to get financial documents translated to English and extended wait times to wire funds. If you’ll be signing closing documents from an international location, you’ll need to schedule an appointment with a notary at the nearest US Embassy. The majority of the documents you’ll review and sign during the transaction can be signed online via apps such as Docusign; however, there will be forms at the end of the transaction that you will need to sign in person within the documented presence of a US Embassy Notary.

  1. Proof of funds: Section H (Cash Funds and Financing Contingency) of the Honolulu Board of Realtors Purchase Contract addresses contingencies on obtaining cash funds, verification of funds, financing contingencies, Buyers’ obligations and the Seller’s right to cancel.  Section H(a) specifically states the timeline in which you will provide proof of funds—which is typically a formal letter from your bank or loan officer.
  2. If you are purchasing a home with cash:  Home seller’s especially love these offers because the sale can close faster and appraisals are typically not conducted since there is no mortgage lender involved.Questions to consider before submitting an offer on a home: Have you confirmed the foreign currency exchange rate for the US Dollar?; Are your cash funds available immediately or will there be a waiting period to access the funds?; Will you be able to wire funds to the escrow company from your current bank?; Does your bank offer financial document translation services if needed?
  3. If you are obtaining a mortgage: Seek a lender who has experience with international buyers, preferably from your specific country. This is crucial, I encourage you to do your research. The questions to consider before submitting an offer on a home are the same as listed above for a cash buyer. Lender’s typically require paystubs, tax reports, bank account statements and possibly credit reference letters in place of a FICO score if you don’t have a credit history in the United States. If your documents are in any language other than English, you’ll need to obtain a financial document translator. Check with your bank and lender for references. To reduce translation fees, confirm which documents your lender specifically needs.
  4. Inspections: If you will be off-island domestically or internationally during your home purchase, you will need to decide if you are comfortable with not being present for your general inspection and final walk through. As a real estate agent, I provide clients with recommendations for general inspectors and then video conference with them during the inspection so they can ask questions on-site. General inspectors will also provide a written report detailing the inspection. You can either have your real estate agent or your agent and another personal representative conduct the final walk through.
  5. Closing Documents: As I stated earlier, the majority of your closing documents will be signed online but there will be specific forms at the end of the transaction that you’ll need to sign in the presence of a notary at a US Embassy. There is typically an additional fee at the US Embassy and you’ll need to schedule an appointment ahead of time. The title and escrow company will help coordinate shipping the documents to you.

I’m here to help if you have any additional home buying or selling questions, feel free to email me at Click here to begin your property search on any one of Hawaii’s enchanting islands of Kauai, Oahu, Molokai, Lanai, Maui, or Big Island.

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March 15, 2018

Hi Emily,
Wanted to let you know that we don’t require paystubs from a Foreign National buyer!!!
JMAC Lending only asks for a letter from the employer verifying annual salary. If your buyer is self employed, we don’t require business tax returns or business bank statements.
Our FN program (Venice product) is the best FN program and we can close the buyer’s loan in 15 days.
Tracy Clarkin

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