Invest in a Restaurant Chain for a Visa

Foreign InvestmentFlorida restaurant chains, such as Sonic’s, Miami Subs, and Voodoo BBQ are encouraging foreign investors to invest at least $500,000 into their business in exchange for an EB-5 visa from the U.S. Government.

A group expanding their high-end restaurants, including Scarpetta and the Fontainebleu in Miami Beach resort are also encouraging foreign investors through this program.

An EB-5 visa allows for foreign investors, along with their spouse and children under the age of 21, to live in the United States if they invest at least $500,000 into an economically disadvantaged area or $1 million to a non-disadvantaged area. The investor must also create at least 10 jobs, which is why investing in a franchise is so convenient.

Franchises are also attractive for investors because they tend to succeed at higher rates than stand-alone businesses, according to the Sun Sentinel.

Restaurant groups are jumping on the “EB-5” bandwagon because they find it hard to get funding from U.S. banks after the recession and easier to go through the immigration process. With the new immigration bill on the horizon, we will see how long this holds true.

From January to September, 2012, the government approved 3, 677 EB-5 visas for foreign investors. This number does not include those investors’ spouses and children.

Source: Sun Sentinel

*Image courtesy of Stockfreeimages.com

Investing in the Single-Family Home Rental Market

For the first time in Florida history, real estate investment firms are investing in the single-family home rental market, replacing so-called “condo vulture” investors.Singe-Family Home Investment

Private equity funds, hedge funds, and REITs have purchased at least 4,000 single-family homes for the purpose of renting them out. These companies pay cash for a cluster of foreclosed or bank-owned homes, rent them out for a couple years, and then sell them for a profit. This business model works because home prices are low, rent prices are high, and the market is expected to bounce back in a couple years.

These homes are a much better investment than condos because in addition to the eventual payoff when the property is sold, single-family home investors can also make a profit while renting out the homes.

Previously, it was almost impossible to buy homes in clusters because they went on the market randomly and were usually spread out over a wide geographic location. This is no longer the case because the Federal Housing Finance Agency is now selling foreclosed homes in bundles.

Investors also have the option of hiring a local property management company to keep up with maintenance, rent collection and more, making the process even easier.

If you have the venture capital, it is a great time to start a Florida real estate investment company. For foreign investors, this could also be a path to a visa if the investment is sufficient and will create jobs.

Now is the Time for Foreign Investment in Florida

Foreing Investment in FloridaThe diminished value of the U.S. Dollar is still offering the opportunity to make money for foreigners who invest in real estate in Florida.

With the rise in short-sales and foreclosures, foreign investors are able to buy properties for a low cost. Investors are able to buy a multi-family home for the cost of an efficient apartment in their own country.

In addition, because many Floridians are now renting instead of buying, there is an opportunity to make a true investment that will gain profit not only from an eventual resale, but also through renting out properties such as condos, which many foreign investors are buying in bulk.

Management and repair costs are also lower in Florida than in many foreign countries. Foreign investors who rent out some properties are estimated to receive a 10-15% return rate.

Even if you are looking to buy a second home on one of Florida’s sunny beaches, renting the property out on a seasonal basis can still result in profit gain (not to mention a nice place to get away.)

Foreign investment in Florida is becoming more popular, and, as a result, the number of properties available is diminishing, and the price of these properties is expected to increase as the demand does. The trend is already in full affect in South Florida areas such as Miami, and it is expected to be replicated in other coastal areas of Florida in a South to North pattern.

Sources: Condo Owner, Equity First

*Image courtesy of stockfreeimages.com

EB-5 Program Allows Residency for Foreign Investors

The EB-5 Immigrant Investor program, enacted in 1990, is a way for foreign investors to help boost the American economy and, in the process, gain residency in Florida or in other states across the U.S.

Foreign investors can obtain an EB-5 visa if they invest $1,000,000, or $500,000 in high unemployment areas, that leads to the creation or preservation of at least 10 jobs. These investors and their families receive a two year visa that allows them to live and work in the U.S., and if the investment is successful, they can eventually receive permanent U.S. residency.

Jupiter, FL, has used this program to construct an outdoor amphitheater, marina slips, and an entertainment hub,  San Bernardino, CA, has used it to redevelop its downtown theatre district, Jay, Vermont used it to help finance luxury condos, an ice hockey rink, and a waterpark at its popular Jay Peak Resort, and Philadelphia has used the program to expand a hospital complex and improve a school for disabled children.

Along with the benefits of the program, there are also risks. Some investors have failed to maintain or create theImage courtesy of StockFreeImages.com required jobs, or failed to otherwise comply with the program, and faced deportation. Others have lost their investment, but have still secured their green cards.

Despite the risks, many foreign investors are still taking the chance. The EB-5 program is one of the fastest ways for wealthy foreign investors who lack the family ties or special skill required for a traditional U.S. visa to establish a permanent U.S. residency.

Sources: LA Times, WCAX.com

Don’t Be A Victim: Fraudulent Out-of-Country Buyers

Most foreign property buyers have a legitimate interest in buying a property in the U.S. However, the increased number of scams in the real estate market from fraudulent out of state buyers have increased, causing title companies and real estate attorneys to lose time and money.

How the scams are conducted:

The first person that is contacted by the fraudulent party is usually the real estate agent. After they inquire about the property, they send information proving that they have the funds to purchase the property, and then ask to be referred to an attorney.

After the “buyer” gets in contact with the attorney, he sends a fake cashier’s check and asks the attorney to deposit the check in a trust account. Once the scammer knows the check is in the trust account, he will come up with an excuse to ask for the money back and have it deposit in a foreign bank account. When the attorney’s bank realizes that the check was fake it will be too late to recover the money that was drawn from the attorney’s trust account.

In most instances where scams take place, the prospective client will use an email address from one of the large services instead of a personal website address, claim to be a professional with a title that suggests wealth, or mainly be interested in land that is vacant. To avoid these scams, the first thing real estate agents should do is to confirm the identity of the client by verifying through a letter that the person is the true owner of the record.