Southwest Florida is prized for its pristine beaches, fine arts, and high quality of living. It is no wonder that we see so many foreign buyers and sellers in our area. Transactions involving foreigners can be quite complex. The lawyers at Berlin Patten Ebling assist foreign investors in the purchase and sale of Florida real estate to ensure that the process properly addresses numerous potential pitfalls. Our firm works with foreign real estate buyers, sellers, accountants and tax advisors through all phases of a transaction. We have assisted international real estate buyers and sellers with transactions ranging from the purchase of a single-family home to full-scale commercial developments.
Our attorneys and support staff pay attention to every detail in order to protect our foreign clients’ interests.Transactions involving foreigners involve issues that are not present when dealing solely with US citizens. For example, navigating FIRPTA (Foreign Investment in Real Property Tax Act) can be challenging if not evaluated early and handled properly. If the seller is a foreign person under FIRPTA, the buyer must withhold fifteen percent (15%) of the amount realized (gross purchase price) from the foreign seller’s proceeds and send it to the Internal Revenue Service. As a result, complying with FIRPTA’s withholding requirement in time for closing can be challenging if the closing agent is not familiar with FIRPTA and the exceptions available to the FIRPTA withholding requirement. Although, the 15% is withheld from the foreign seller’s proceeds, many do not realize, but it is the buyer that is responsible to make sure that FIRPTA is complied with and the 15% is timely submitted to the IRS. Consequently, the IRS can hold the buyer personally responsible for the uncollected withholding amount, including interest and penalties. Therefore, both, the foreign seller and the buyer, need to seek legal and tax advice to make sure they have complied with the FIRPTA requirements and are familiar with comparing exchange rates to possibly save thousands of dollars.
If you are a foreign buyer or seller preparing to invest in Florida real estate or a real estate agent working with a foreign buyer or seller, let us guide you through your transaction so you are protected every step of the way. Our Florida real estate lawyers can review your situation and recommend the best course of action. For our clients’ convenience, we have offices in Venice and Lakewood Ranch as well as Sarasota.