houses in milwaukee

Real Estate Investing in Milwaukee as a Foreigner: A Complete Guide

Apr 24, 2023

The US is by far one of the most popular countries for investing in real estate as a nonresident. But investing in Milwaukee as foreigner is another level since not many people do it. Folks like to invest in popular countries and cities, which does favor savvy investors worldwide who like finding hidden gems.

There are many reasons why non-US residents choose to invest in US Real Estate:

  • Around 37% of foreigners who buy real estate in the US do that so they can rent it;
  • Rents in the US have gone up by more than 50% since 2008;
  • Nonresident investors can easily achieve 10% or higher ROI on their investments.

However, not all cities in the US are the same when it comes to ROI from real estate. For instance, although states like California or New York are some of the most popular places for foreign investors, properties there are pretty costly. So if you’re a newcomer to real estate investing, states like those aren’t the best option.

Luckily, there are places where even beginner investors can buy a property and achieve high ROI with minimal risk. One such hidden gem is Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

In this article, we will illustrate why investing in Milwaukee as Foreigner is an excellent choice for beginner nonresident investors. Learn why you should consider buying property there and get tips on finding a good deal for your first investment!

A Milwaukee map.

Where in the World Is Milwaukee?

Milwaukee is a mid-sized city on the coast of Lake Michigan in Wisconsin, located in the upper Midwestern US. Although its population is only around 600,000, Milwaukee is still one of the largest cities in the Midwest US.

The biggest thing that Milwaukee has going for it with real estate investors is that it’s a developing city in an otherwise underdeveloped part of the country (Central and Midwest USA). Since Milwaukee is quite close to two central hubs of Midwestern America, Chicago and Minneapolis, it is a popular destination for many families looking to escape the hustle and bustle of the city. 

The fact that Milwaukee is so well-connected makes it easily accessible to foreign investors. Although the city itself has no international airports, it’s merely an hour away by car from Chicago, which is one of the largest airline hubs in the States.

Milwaukee’s Booming Economy and Why It Matters

Milwaukee used to be a large industrial hub in the late 19th century. However, it has since lost the industrial race to bigger, nearby cities like Chicago. Despite that, there have been many efforts to restore the town’s industrial prowess over the last few years. Most of these efforts are government-supported, which has helped put Milwaukee back on the map.

Besides its industrial revival, Milwaukee is also home to the headquarters of six Fortune 500 companies. That makes the city increasingly appealing to young, ambitious people looking to build stable and prospective careers. 

Lastly, Milwaukee has recently seen another economic boom from reinvigorated tourism. This revival happened as a direct cause of the Milwaukee Bucks becoming the NBA champions in 2021. The 2021 NBA championship will forever be remembered as one of the most famous underdog victories in its history. The Bucks haven’t won a championship since 1971, so all eyes were directed toward Milwaukee after the event.

All of the above factors have positively impacted the popularity of Milwaukee as a living destination for tens of thousands of Americans. And with a new, steady influx of residents came the need for more residential units and higher competition in the market.

Milwaukee skyline.

Investing in Milwaukee as Foreigner

As we mentioned above, the Milwaukee industrial revival was one of the biggest reasons it was able to put itself back on the map. And that wouldn’t have been possible without foreign investors. 

Milwaukee is attractive to many nonresident investors because of the state’s EB-5 initiative. This initiative meant that investors who put enough money into Wisconsin could get one of the most valuable foreign investor visas — the EB-5 visa. 

That led many foreign investors to start businesses in Milwaukee and create thousands of new employment opportunities for US workers. And once these businesses began popping up, the domino effect took its course, and the town became a more popular destination for young residents and even more investors.

What Is EB-5 Visa and Why It Made the Difference

The EB-5 visa, also known as the “Investor Green Card,” is one of the best permanent residency visas a foreigner can get. This visa offers its holders full residency rights on American soil and allows them to bring their families. However, there are two steep conditions one must meet to get this visa:

  • They must invest $800,000-$1,050,00 in the US (depending on the region or state);
  • They must provide full-time employment for at least 10 US citizens or legal residents.

Milwaukee has been a hugely popular destination for EB-5 projects because it falls into the lower end of the requirements for the EB-5 visa. On top of that, its lower living costs compared to cities on the East and West coasts meant that investors had an easier time creating positive cash flow for their businesses. 

Industrial growth affected Real Estate market, and now investing in Milwaukee as a Foreigner a great idea.

How Milwaukee’s Industrial Growth Reflected on Its Real Estate Market (Statistics)

With an increased need for housing and the city’s growing economy, the prices of real estate in Milwaukee have been growing steadily. Here are just a few most relevant statistics to illustrate that:

  • Rent prices have had a 6% YOY growth for several years now;
  • Property prices have gone up by 14.3% since last year;
  • Home values rose by 75% over the previous five years;
  • The median home price in the most affordable neighborhood in Milwaukee is $49,000;
  • The median home price in the most expensive neighborhood in Milwaukee is $265,000;

As you can see, Milwaukee’s real estate market has been on an upward trajectory for over five years now, and there are no indicators that will change anytime soon. On top of that, the low-end home prices are affordable even for smaller investors with limited budgets. 

However, there’s more to real estate investing than just property prices. And Milwaukee checks a few more boxes on that list.

4 More Reasons For Investing in Milwaukee as Foreigner

Besides its growing real estate market and affordable prices, several other factors make this city favorable for nonresident investors. Investing in Milwaukee as Foreigner is a smart call, and you should definitely think about it. Here is why:

1. It’s Excellent for the Cash Flow Game

Real estate investing is all about creating positive cash flow. And there are two main reasons achieving that is easier in Milwaukee than in most other cities in the US.

Firstly, investing in Milwaukee as foreigner is excellent because it’s easier to find tenants there than in most other places in the States. One of the reasons is that the costs of living there are 3% lower than the national average. That makes it incredibly appealing for people looking to move from more expensive regions in the US.

Another reason it’s easier to find tenants in Milwaukee is that the town is home to many public and private universities like the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee and Marquette University. These colleges are some of the biggest ones in Wisconsin and the Midwest, making them an appealing option for both domestic and foreign students. And with a rich influx of students in the city comes an increased need for housing. 

Besides that, the biggest reason Milwaukee is a great city for real estate investing is that its unemployment rates sit at around 2.5%. With so few unemployed people, finding reliable tenants who won’t skip on rent is much easier. And since cash flow is a long-term game, having a single, loyal tenant is always better than having to change them regularly.

2. It Has a Small Barrier to Entry

Being a small and comparatively affordable town, Milwaukee is an excellent place for beginner real estate investors. No matter how much you learn or how prepared you think you are, you will surely make mistakes at first. And it’s always better to go through that trial-and-error phase with smaller investments than big ones.

The Milwaukee buildings show that market is not oversaturated which makes it perfect for nonresident investors.

3. The Market Isn’t Oversaturated

One of the best aspects of real estate investing in Milwaukee as foreigner is that its market isn’t saturated. Although the town’s industry was revived on the backbones of foreign investors, they mainly invested in large-scale businesses and not residential properties. 

In fact, there are few nonresident real estate investor groups in Milwaukee, so the true potential of its local real estate market is still untapped.

4. It’s Located in a Landlord-Friendly State

One of the most critical reasons Milwaukee is a fantastic place for real estate investors is that Wisconsin is a landlord-friendly state. That means the local laws that define the relationships between landlords and tenants are some of the most favorable.

There are three main benefits landlords get from Wisconsin’s landlord laws:

  • Landlords can evict tenants after three consecutive months of skipped rent (in most other states, the number is six or higher);
  • You have no limit on the amount you can ask for a security deposit;
  • There are no limits to how high you can set your rent (some states have caps on rent based on the property’s size).

Out of the above three benefits, the first is the most valuable one since it allows you to weed out bad tenants much more quickly (if you’re unlucky) and get your cash flow game back on track faster.

How investing in Milwaukee as a foreigner actually works and how to find a good deal.

How to Find a Good Deal in for Investing in Milwaukee as Foreigner

The best part about Milwaukee is its relatively small and tight-knit real estate community. On top of that, the locals are friendly and welcoming to foreign investors. So one of the easiest ways to inform yourself about the best deals on the market is to network with the local real estate community. There are several ways you can do that:

  • Visit local real estate meetups and get-togethers;
  • Connect with wholesalers and real estate agents;
  • Walk around town and talk to the residents (they’re friendly and often willing to help).

As unusual as the above may sound, these are the most effective ways to find the best opportunities in Milwaukee. Most locals in the real estate industry know each other, so networking is by far the most effective way to get your hands on great deals. 

That’s why at NRI, we have plenty of connections with local real estate professionals to help our clients get only the best deals. If you’d like to skip the networking part and jump straight into investing, we’d be happy to help.

However, if you’d like to avoid too much networking but still want to do things yourself, there’s another approach you can take.

There are many Facebook groups dedicated to real estate in Milwaukee, but the best (and the biggest) one is “Milwaukee WI Off Market Deals.” If you follow this group regularly, you’ll stumble upon some excellent deals before they even hit the broader market (e.g., Zillow). Our CEO, Luka Malkovich, bought his first property in Milwaukee through this group, so it’s already been tried and tested.

Still, if you’re serious about becoming a real estate investor in Milwaukee, you’ll need to connect with the locals to sustain your business in the long run. 

Pull the Trigger — Become a Nonresident Investor Today

If you wish to achieve financial freedom through real estate investing as a foreigner, there is no better place to start than Milwaukee. The city’s real estate market is steadily growing, and finding tenants is much easier than in most other US cities. Also, if you invest enough in Wisconsin, you may even become eligible for an EB-5 visa and earn a US green card.

However, the hardest part about it is pulling the trigger and buying your first property. Our CEO, Luka Malkovich, is a nonresident investor himself and knows exactly how that feels. He spent months researching the US real estate laws, regulations, and markets before buying his first two duplexes in Milwaukee. Since then, he has built the NRI brand to help aspiring nonresident investors like you generate passive income from real estate investing in the US.

Luka also shares his knowledge and experience about real estate investing for free on the NRI blog. But if you’d rather have someone experienced help you build a profitable real estate business in the States, why not schedule a free 15-minute discovery call with Luka and tell him about your investing goals? He and the NRI team would love to help!

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