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Can a Green Card Holder Buy a House

For many immigrants, buying a home is part of the American Dream. Luckily, if you hold a “green card” or Permanent Residence Card, the process to buy a home is very similar to that for US citizens. 


While you should certainly research each step carefully, at a glance, here are the steps to buying a home in the US: 

  1. Determine how much you can afford to spend on a house
  2. Get Pre-approved for credit for your Mortgage
  3. Find the right Real Estate Agent
  4. Shop for a Home
  5. Make an Offer
  6. Get a Home Inspection
  7. Secure the Mortgage
  8. Obtain insurance and establish utilities
  9. Close the deal

For most green card holders, the trickiest part of this process will be the elements related to securing a mortgage, so we’ll take a closer look at your options. 


Types of Mortgages for Green Card Holders 

As a permanent resident, your options are very similar to that of US citizens. 


Bank Home Loans  

Major Banks, like Bank of America, offer home loans to permanent residents and temporary visa holders. Still, you will be much more likely to be approved for a loan as the bank will see you as less risky than someone who only plans to be in the US temporarily. 

Another great option would be to seek a loan through credit unions and local non-profit financial institutions. These tend to be friendlier to immigrants and offer better rates. 


These lenders are known to be fairly friendly to immigrant applicants: 


FHA Loans 

The Federal Housing Association is a government body that grants loans that only require a 3.5% down payment and are more friendly to those with lower credit scores. As a permanent resident, the process to apply for an FHA loan is very similar to that of a US citizen; the only difference is that you will have to prove your residency status by providing your green card when applying for the loan. 

Make sure to compare several loan options to make sure you are getting the best rate! 


Additional Hurdles 

While there are no rules against non-citizens securing federal or private home loans, that does not mean the process will be without challenges. When you apply for a home loan, the lender will assess your risk profile by looking at your: 

  • Proof of continued residency 
  • Proof of Income over the last three years 
  • Credit history - usually showing at least three distinct lines of credit

Usually, lenders will want to see at least three years of credit history. This means the easiest way to make yourself more attractive to lenders is to begin to build your credit history immediately upon your arrival in the country through credit cards, auto loans, or personal loans and wait to buy a home until you have been in the country for a minimum of three years.  Of course, you can try to secure a loan sooner, as lenders will be able to pull a credit report for you after only 12 months of building credit. However, it will usually be more difficult to get approved, and your loan terms might be less desirable.