How I Learned to Invest in US Real Estate as a Foreigner

How and Where Did I Learn to Invest in US Real Estate as a Foreigner?

Feb 6, 2023

When you invest in US real estate as a foreigner you know very little about it and that comes with many challenges, especially without prior experience. That’s why the key to success lies in doing thorough research. 

However, not all information you’ll need is easily accessible or accurate. And filtering through all the noise is time-consuming. I know — I’ve been there myself.

Before I bought my first two duplexes in Milwaukee, I spent hundreds of hours researching US real estate laws, its tax system, and much more. Besides that, I’ve been in the real estate investing business for around five years, so I have a lot of experience beginner investors may find invaluable.

In this article, I will share how and where I learned to invest in US real estate as a foreigner to help you save precious time. This list is a compilation of my experience, the lessons I learned from my mistakes,  and hundreds of hours of research from various sources. I will also recommend resources that helped (and inspired) me the most.

I hope these recommendations save you dozens of precious hours on your journey to becoming a nonresident investor!

8 Ways I Learned to Invest in US Real Estate as a Foreigner

Instead of spending dozens of hours looking for and vetting resources online, you should focus on what matters the most — learning. Here are the eight ways I learned to invest in real estate that you can also learn from.

an illustration of a guy investing in us real estate as a foreigner

1. I Helped With My Family’s Real Estate Business When I Was a Kid

My family has been in the real estate business for over 20 years in my home country of Montenegro. In that time, they went through more than 50 tenants across several apartments, so they were pretty seasoned in that regard.

When I was still a child, I used to help my dad find tenants and help with property management. This experience laid an excellent foundation for my future real estate investment endeavors.

When I first started to invest in US real estate as a foreigner, I already had a business model in mind and a good idea of what I’d need to create a self-sustainable real estate business. And the key was to find reliable, long-term tenants. 

If I had learned anything from my parents, it was that tenants are your customers, so you need to treat them as such. That means adequate property management is crucial to keeping them satisfied and retaining them. 

If you want, you can handle property management yourself, but I suggest hiring a reliable property management agency. That will especially come in handy when you’re a foreigner and spend most of your time half the world away. With a property management agency by your side, you can easily manage multiple properties, even from another continent. 

2. I Learned How Profitable the US Real Estate Market Was From a Close Friend

My first contact with investing in US real estate was thanks to my good friend and colleague Mark. And it was also the first time I discovered how lucrative it could be.

I worked closely with Mark on one of my outsourcing projects for my company Addria in late 2017. But since we didn’t see each other for a long time, we also used the time to reconnect and catch up.

That’s when Mark enthusiastically told me about his latest pet project — real estate investing. Being a Milwaukee native, he had recently bought a house in one of the city’s affordable neighborhoods and planned to rent it. And when he told me how much he had paid for it, I was left speechless.

Since I live half the world away and in an entirely different economic environment, it never even crossed my mind that real estate in countries like the US could be so affordable. So despite how expensive you think it is to invest in US real estate as a foreigner, you might be pleasantly surprised. I know I was.

After all, this revelation made me invest in US real estate as a foreigner and, eventually, build the NRI brand.

a person using laptop computer to learn how to invest in us real estate as a foreigner

3. The Internet (Especially YouTube) Is an Endless Encyclopedia of Free Knowledge

We are blessed to be living in the information era, where almost everything is available at a click of a button. And the same applies to everything you need to know about real estate investing.

The internet is your friend. You can find information online, whether you’re learning about US real estate laws or looking up business strategies for optimizing ROI. Websites like the official IRS site or real estate marketplaces like Zillow and Realtor are your best friends when doing market and legal research.

Besides these websites, I found YouTube the most useful. Many creators cover different topics about real estate investing that you can learn from. My personal favorites are the following:

I still follow many of these channels regularly to stay updated with news and trends in the US real estate market. They also have a lot of helpful information for beginner investors, so I recommend you check them out.

Of course, you can’t find everything online, but you can find enough to get started. Combining the free knowledge you get from the internet with expert consultations and practical experience is key to success. So keep that in mind when you start your investing journey.

4. I Found High-Profile Professionals to Mentor Me

I cannot stress this enough — having a mentor is one of the most effective ways to learn and improve in real estate investing. The reason is simple — no matter how well you master the theory, nothing trumps practical experience.

I personally consulted several different professionals and had them mentor me. One of them was an experienced investor from LA, and the other was from New York. Choosing mentors from different markets was the right choice since it gave me two different perspectives. So I suggest you do the same if you have the means.

Another person who helped me immensely on my journey was my accountant from San Diego, who had over 30 years of experience working with foreigners. He gave me some of the most valuable tax and ROI optimization advice, which I’ve been using with all my clients since then.

Overall, all my mentors were incredibly open to helping me, and the knowledge I gained was invaluable to building a self-sustainable real estate investing business. In fact, I was able to help them too! As a serial entrepreneur with a lot of experience in business, marketing, and IT, I had a lot of knowledge to share in those areas.

Either way, it was a win-win scenario for all parties.

If you want to become a nonresident investor and need mentorship or guidance, I’d be glad to help. I’ve been investing in US real estate for years and have a team of experienced professionals behind me that can help you with every part of the investment process. So far, my team and I have helped dozens of foreign investors find and close the best deals to create steady cash flow through passive income. So why not jump on a short discovery call and tell me more about your real estate investment goals?

5. I Attended Various In-Person Conferences and Events

Even before I started to invest in US real estate as a foreigner, I used to visit America several times a year to attend various conferences and meetups. So this way of learning came naturally to me.

So far, I’ve been to two real estate conferences in Milwaukee and several live events in other states like New York. During these events, I got the opportunity to meet many lawyers, real estate agents, wholesalers, and even prospective tenants. 

But likely the best part about these conferences was sharing experiences with other industry professionals and expanding your network of contacts. And as I’ve already mentioned, nothing beats raw experience in this industry (even if it’s not your own).

So although these trips can be costly, the knowledge and contacts you can gain from them are well worth the investment.

6. I Read Dozens of Books on Real Estate Investing

Whatever you’re trying to learn in life, there are at least several dozens of books about it. And the same applies to someone who wants to invest in US real estate as a foreigner. 

The information you can find online is enough to get you started — that’s true. But books help shape that foundation with more in-depth insights into the market, various investment strategies, and much more.

I’ve read dozens of books on real estate investing to date, and nearly all of them taught me something new. But if I had to hand-pick the most valuable ones, it would have to be these five:

  • The ABCs of Real Estate Investing (Ken McElroy) 
  • ABCs of Buying Rental Property (Ken McElroy) 
  • Rich Dad’s Guide to Investing (Robert Kiyosaki)
  • The Book on Tax Strategies for the Savvy Real Estate Investor (Amanda Han & Matt MacFarland) 
  • Start Your Own Corporation (Garrett Sutton)

If you’re as serious about real estate investing as me, you don’t want to skimp on reading!

a paper sticker saying "learn from your mistakes"

7. I Learned From My Mistakes

I’ve said it many times before, and I’ll say it again — experience is your most valuable asset in real estate investing. That’s why learning from your mistakes is the best way to improve.

If you’re an entrepreneur like me, you probably already know this. Regardless of how thoroughly you study the market, there are no certainties in business.

So the best thing you can do is go out there, find and close a deal, hire a property management agency, do your best to optimize ROI, make mistakes, and then repeat. Real estate investing has a steep learning curve, so it will take time to see progress. But after you gain some experience, everything will become exponentially easier.

I’ve built my entire entrepreneurial career on trial and error (not just my real estate business), and I can confidently say it’s the best way to find long-term success. So don’t be afraid to make mistakes — you’ll come out of them stronger than ever.

8. I’ve Set My Sights on Several Valuable Courses and Certificates

This point might sound like cheating, as I didn’t do this yet myself, but I believe it’s essential to perfecting one’s skills. I have set my sights on several high-profile courses and certificates as the next step in my journey. And, if you ask me, so should you!

You learn as long as you live and that you can never know enough. That’s why you should keep perfecting your skills even after making it in real estate investing.

There are dozens of courses and degrees out there that you can get to hone your craft further, but I plan to do the following soon:

  • Get an MBA in real estate;
  • Undergo the Acceptance Agent Program;
  • Apply for several state-specific real estate licenses.

If you share my passion for real estate investing, these certificates and degrees will be the perfect final step toward becoming an unparalleled professional.

a person holding a fist i the air after investing money into US real estate as a nonresident

Determination Is All You Need to Get Invest in US Real Estate as a Foreigner

Although building a profitable real estate business as a foreigner requires a lot of time and effort, it’s incredibly rewarding. Being a nonresident investor is all about creating positive cash flow through passive income by investing where the numbers are the highest. But the best part is that you can become one regardless of where you’re from.

If you throw yourself into the fray as I did, you will probably need to spend hundreds of hours on research, networking, and trial and error. However, there’s a much better and easier option — hire professional help to make your life easier.

After realizing how much time and money I could have saved if I had someone experienced to help me when I first started as a nonresident investor, I decided to build the NRI brand to help foreign investors like myself navigate the complex US market. 

Since then, I’ve created a versatile and reliable team of professionals from different fields of expertise that can help guide you through every step of the investment process. From opening your own LLC to finding the best deal, handling taxes, property management, and optimizing ROI — my team can handle it for you.

So why not jump on a short discovery call and find out how the NRI team can help make your real estate investing quick and stress-free?

Book a free discovery call with me and find out how much time and money my team can save you on your first real estate purchase.

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