Lawmakers look to offer visas to foreign homebuyers
Foreign investors of U.S. housing could get a residential visa to stay stateside for up to three years. Sens. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Mike Lee (R-Utah) introduced the bill Thursday with the backing of homebuilder Toll Brothers (TOL) CEO Robert Toll and investor Warren Buffett. Under the legislation, a foreign national who invests at least $500,000 in U.S. real estate would receive a three-year visa. At least half of the investment must be spent on a primary residence, and the visa holder must live there at least 180 days and pay taxes. A story in the October issue of HousingWire discussed the influx of foreign investors flocking to America's discounted housing market. The National Association of Realtors said these buyers bought $82 billion of U.S. homes during the 12 months ending March 31, a 24% increase from a year earlier. "The concept is part a broad immigration package aimed at boosting foreign travel and investment in the United States," according to a statement released by Schumer's office. "Real estate analysts have said this proposal could lift demand for U.S. homes and help ease the housing crisis." The Wall Street Journal first reported the proposal Wednesday. "We think there will be a very significant number of people brought in," Schumer said in a conference call with reporters Thursday. "They will be here spending money and paying taxes. I think it will have a large affect throughout the country." Write to Jon Prior. Follow him on Twitter @jonaprior.