Saturday, February 23, 2008

Foreigners are Buying Property in America!

Internet chatters and local and national pundits are discovering that foreigners are purchasing homes in America and they are expressing surprise and outrage. They are not happy.

It has never been a requirement that one had to be an American citizen to own property in America; one does not even have to be a resident of America. If residency is not even a requirement for owning property, then why are people so concerned about the residency status of those who are purchasing homes?

Ever since we have been a nation, foreigners have owned property in this country. Foreigners own stock in corporations that own timberland, manufacturing plants, shopping centers and office buildings. Some of those corporations have majority foreign investors, or the American corporation may be owned by a foreign corporation.

Chrysler has changed hands again, but for a while it was owned by a German firm and Chrysler was renamed DaimlerChrysler. A few years ago a Japanese company, the Mitsubishi Group, purchased the entire 22 acres Rockefeller Center complex in midtown Manhattan, the home of Radio City Music Hall, Rockefeller Plaza, and NBC.

Nissan has an auto plant in Smyrna Tennessee, a town in the county next door to Nashville. Tennessee sought the plant and Nissan's investment has been and economic boon to the region.

Wealthy foreigners own condos in New York City, Miami Beach, Vail Colorado and elsewhere throughout America. The less wealthy foreigners may own vacation time-shares in Gatlinburg or Gulf Shores.

Not only do foreigners own property in American but Americans also own property in other countries throughout the world. Many wealthy Americans have condos on the French Riviera or vacation homes in the Caribbean. Over one million Americans own property in Mexico. As the baby boomers reach retirement age, many are discovering their retirement income goes a lot further in Mexico and they can enjoy a better lifestyle south of the border. They are moving there in droves.

American companies own or have ownership interest in vineyards, banana plantations, manufacturing plants, utility companies, and land holdings throughout the world. Prior to it being nationalized, Americans owned a large chuck of the real estate in Cuba. American Telephone and Telegraph at one time had large holding in many countries of the world. Many developing countries seek and welcome this foreign investment. If you have an IRA invested in a Mutual Fund, you may have an ownership interest in a foreign corporations with real estate holdings.

Do the same people who object to foreign ownership of American properties object to American ownership in foreign countries?

I am not at all concerned that foreigners can own American property and I am glad Americans can own real estate in other countries. To my way of thinking, this is a good thing. A more integrated world is a less dangerous world. Ask yourself, “Do you think the Japanese would have been as likely to have bombed Hawaii, if they would have had the same level of investment in Hawaii prior to Pearl Harbor as they have now?”

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