Coming to America…. So, it’s happened! You’re here! After months of planning, visiting, and research you’re finally in California.  Now what?

buy topamax online usa Well, if you’re lucky, your company will give you some accommodation (by which I mean, some housing, not some adaptation). Perhaps a company apartment, perhaps a rented Condominium. That should allow you some breathing space to make your housing plans.

If you’ve come here via other means, then an apartment or Condo is likely to be an early stop, but you may run into Landlords who will require some letter of recommendation, as you have no credit history.

Credit History, and Credit Score are used universally in the US to show that you are trustworthy. Without them life is a little tougher and you will find getting a bank card, loan or housing complicated. Just dealing in cash will not help.

It is possible to establish a bank account with help from an employer, even if you do not yet have a tax ID. Many banks will also let you have a debit card and checking account, but these are usually collateral-backed cards and require that you put a certain amount of cash into a savings account. That is used by the bank to ‘insure’ the debit card, which will have a suitably low withdrawal limit. They are basically guaranteeing that you don’t run back to your home country with their cash! Probably not worth it for $100…

This method of growing a credit history and establishing a score is, however, very slow and will not allow you to get enough credit for a Mortgage in a short period of time. There is another way…

Buy a large item, such as a car, or something else expensive (perhaps a TV, or refrigerator). The sales people will be more inclined with a large purchase to attempt to get you a loan, through those companies that are less choosy about credit scores. It will be at a higher rate of interest than someone who has good credit, but this is a small price to pay to start establishing your credit history. (For example my car loan in 2005 was 8.5% against a normal rate of 5%).

Being employed is a prerequisite to getting credit, so that needs to be your first stop, if you wish to make any progress! With a steady salary and a loan being paid regularly (and this is a very important factor – do not miss any payments) your credit score will start to rise.

A limiting issue will be the age of your credit history. Obviously, if you were born here, your credit history can start at 16 or so. If you arrive here at 35, your history will be appreciably shorter, and will limit the size of your score. This has a medium effect on your credit score, less so than say payment history and staying within your credit card limit.

How do you know your credit score? There are three semi-autonomous credit agencies, Transunion, Equifax and Experian. They are private companies but have been delegated responsibility by the Government to capture your data and maintain a score of your credit-worthiness. This will usually be based upon your Social Security Number (SSN), but in some States might be some other ID such as a Tax Payer ID.

In California, there is a requirement that you can get your credit score from these agencies for free once a year. There are also independent agencies, such a Credit Karma, who will give you an approximation of your credit score on a continuous basis, but it may lack up-to-date events that affect your score.

To be able to get financing for a house or Condo, you will need to have a credit score of 720 or more to take advantage of reasonable interest rates. There will be lenders willing to lend at scores lower than this, but at a price. Did you know that foreign speakers that rely on bi-lingual loan officers to do loan deals, often pay up to 0.5% more on their mortgage interest rate? Be careful who you trust, and shop around.

A good loan officer can help you to establish credit, can help you with advice to increase your score and prepare you for the road ahead. Perhaps waiting just 6 months, with a strategy, could save you considerable amounts of money, or increase your chances of being accepted.

You will need to have a down payment available. For a conventional loan, this will be 20% of the buy price of the property, meaning you will be borrowing 80% as a mortgage. There are other mortgage types that allow a smaller down payment, but require an indemnity payment to insure the lender against default. There are also down payment assistance programs for couples earning up to $150k a year to help on the first step to ownership.

Last but not least, for those lucky enough to have built some equity in a property abroad, there are reputable banks that can exchange foreign currency into US Dollars at the current international exchange rate, less a fee. As this is ‘primary property equity’, you should not be liable to Capital Gains Tax, but you should check with Chartered Accountants knowledgeable in these matters. You should, in addition to the down-payment, however it is sourced, remember that there are closing costs associated with getting the loan. These include loan fees, escrow fees, appraisal fees, etc.

The steps to successful ownership can be planned methodically, with advice from professionals, making the process smoother and less frustrating. We have access to all those you would want to talk to, so don’t delay and call us today.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *