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Home Buying Process

Second Home Purchase and Commercial Properties

The Homes2USA division, based in Saratoga, California (approximately an hour drive South of San Francisco) is your trusted partner to assist you in home and vacant land searching and purchases. In addition, we can service land investment, and commercial properties lease and purchase.

Our team is comprised of licensed REALTORS® who speak multiple languages and are educated in servicing diverse cultural ethnic groups. Our experience includes assisting foreign nationals of multiple countries and native speaking cultures including Chinese (Mandarin and Cantonese), Turkish, Spanish, Russian, with more native languages to be added in the near future.

Our services begin with client communication. This is based on our clients’ preferred communication vehicle, including telephone, email, text message, and Skype. Superb customer service is our standard and we believe fulfilling your goals is based on upfront determination of your desires and developing a strong client relationship. We strive to provide stress-free transactions that close on time and obtain the best value for our clientele. Our REALTORS® will walk you through every step of the process. Your REALTOR® will educate you on the purchase contract, provide you with property searches that meet your criteria, arrange for you to view the properties “virtually”. Most importantly, your Homes2USA REALTOR® will arrange your homes showing trip and provide you with a private homes showing, negotiate the best offer on your behalf, present the offer in person whenever possible, and support you throughout the close of escrow and beyond.

The Homes2USA team of REALTORS® is highly qualified to provide the best service for our clients. They are very experienced, and certified through continual real estate education. Thus, many of them hold real estate designations such as ABR® (Accredited Buyer’s Representative), CIPS® (Certified International Property Specialist), CRS (Certified Residential Specialist®), ePRO®, GRI (Graduate, REALTOR® Institute), and SRES® (Seniors Real Estate Specialists®).

If your goal is to purchase a vacant lot or build a custom home on an existing parcel, our partners of architectural and engineering teams can assist you to design your dream home and our partners of contractors can complete the construction. We can also assist you through the remodel process. Our interior designer partners and feng shui experts can add the finishing touches to your dream home.

We pride ourselves on providing a full range of services to make your trip to the U.S. an effective and enjoyable one. Prior to your trip to the U.S., our staff can assist you with hotel reservations, car or limousine rentals, local tours, shopping assistance (such as a personal shopper), in addition to a myriad of other services such as local school admission assistance, and sports training. Just let us know your needs and we will find a solution!

The current top locations in the United States for foreign buyers are:

  • San Francisco Bay Area, California
  • Metropolitan Los Angeles Area and San Diego, California
  • New York, New York and nearby cities
  • Florida (Orlando, Miami, Palm Coast, Treasure Coast, Sarasota, Tampa Bay)
  • Las Vegas, Nevada
  • Phoenix, Arizona
  • Hawaii

Homes2USA has resources to assist with home purchase in additional cities. Just let us know your target location and we’ll go to work for you!


Here are some common terms to help you understand California Real Estate:

Time is of the Essence

The real estate market is constantly changing. At times there are some areas of the United States that are clearly a seller’s market with low inventory available to purchase. In these situations, there are often multiple offers on properties and superb negotiation skills are demanded to win. At times in other regions, it is a buyer’s market and there are a plethora of properties for the buyer to choose from. The professional Homes2USA team of REALTORS® knows the market intimately and is sensitive to the importance of timely responses and pending deadlines. We are here to assist you in understanding the pros and cons of each property to maximize your purchase value and long-term financial gain.

In all circumstances, time is of the essence. Purchase choices may be available today but not tomorrow. Depending on the real estate market, it can sometimes be a matter of hours in which you need to make a purchase decision. Therefore, we work with each of our clients so they are best prepared to take immediate action, if necessary, so they do not miss a real estate opportunity.

Once you are under contract, time is of the essence to meet specified deadlines outlined in the contract. For example, if you miss the close of escrow date, it is possible that you may be required to pay interest for the extended days beyond the specified purchase contract deadline.

To accommodate seamless transactions and client communication, we proactively work with our clients to notify them of upcoming deadlines in the purchase transaction. We also engage with clients by their preferred form of communication – phone, email, text, Skype – when it is most convenient for them, based on their geographical location.


Terms & Conditions

There are contractual implications to each party in the real estate transaction and it is important you understand these and willfully execute on them. The purchase contract is a binding document with legal implications.

In some circumstances, if you miss committed deadlines specified in the contract, you may lose the property or pay penalties. If, at any time, you have legal concerns, we encourage you to consult with an attorney and/or tax advisor.

Our trained team of REALTORS® has intimate knowledge of the various purchase contracts utilized in the United States. The contract terms and conditions will be reviewed carefully with our clients before, during, and after the transaction.



Electronic signatures (eSignature) on real estate documents are utilized more and more in the United States, as transactions are moving away from the utilization of mounds of paper to an electronic and digital footprint. There are still some financial institutions that do not accept eSignatures. Our REALTORS® will communicate with you regarding the acceptance of eSignatures for your real estate transaction and educate you on the process along the way.


Title & Escrow

Title companies and Escrow Officers are neutral parties integral in the purchase of real estate in the United States. A title company performs a title search and examination of the subject property, and works with the purchaser to eliminate any title exceptions you are not willing to take subject to. They also provide the policy of title insurance to insure clear title to the real property. In some states lawyers are used in lieu of title companies.

The escrow is the process of having a neutral party manage the exchange of money for real property. The escrow holder is known as an escrow or settlement officer or agent. The Buyer deposits funds into a designated escrow account. The Seller deposits a deed with the escrow holder, along with all of the other documents required to remove all “contingencies” (conditions and approvals) in the purchase agreement prior to closing. An escrow officer leads the facilitation of your escrow, including preparation of escrow instructions and documents, as well as funds disbursement.

Once a purchase agreement is signed by all necessary parties, the agent representing the party who will pay the fee selects an escrow holder and the Buyer’s earnest money is deposited and contract is submitted to the escrow holder. From this point, the escrow holder will follow the mutual written instructions of the Buyer and Seller specified in the purchase contract, maintaining a neutral stance to ensure that neither party has an unfair advantage over the other. The escrow holder also follows the instructions of the Buyer’s new lender, the Seller’s existing lender, and both parties’ agents. The escrow holder ensures the transparency of the transaction, while carefully maintaining the privacy of all parties involved.

Your Homes2USA REALTOR® will work closely with the title company and escrow officer. We have partnered with first-class title companies to provide you with superior customer service and real estate guidance throughout the process to insure your transaction runs smoothly and closes on time.

You can also select title and escrow companies in certain counties and locations who have representatives that speak your native language. For your convenience, our Homes2USA team of REALTORS® can arrange this for you.


Transaction Process

There are multiple steps in the real estate transaction process. The process can be overwhelming for even the most educated real estate professional; however, our team of REALTORS® will make the process seamless and easy for you.

Whenever you have a question during the process, do not hesitate to ask. We are your trusted partner in insuring your real estate transaction is smooth and closes on time.

Below you will find the typical steps involved in the real estate transaction process. Your REALTOR® at Homes2USA will educate you on the entire process.


Funding & Wiring

All monies to purchase real estate are kept in an escrow account. A title company will send written instructions for depositing checks/money orders or wiring of money into the account. It can take 24-48 hours for funds to be available. Therefore, be prepared to wire funds 2 days prior to the date as specified in the purchase contract. Your Homes2USA REALTORS®/Escrow Officer will educate you on the specifics for your real estate transaction.


Fees – Who Pays For What (Buyer/Seller)

In addition to the sales price of a home, there are additional costs associated with finalizing the transaction. These fees, or closing costs, may vary by location. Your lender, Escrow Company, and Homes2USA REALTOR® will guide you through the process.

All closing costs must be listed on your HUD-1 settlement form, a document that is prepared by your escrow officer and is required to be filled out prior to finalizing the purchase of your home.

    A few of these fees may include:

  • Real Estate Broker Commission/Fees
  • Loan Fees – Direct loan costs
  • “Prepaids Interest” required by the lender to be paid in advance
  • Escrows/Impounds/Reserves
  • Title and Closing charges
  • Recording/Government Filing Fees
  • Other/Miscellaneous Charges
  • Harmful Fees that could appear on the HUD-1


Price Negotiation

Our goal is to successfully represent you in the real estate transaction by negotiating the best possible price for you in your real estate purchase, resulting in the best value. We thoroughly analyze the local market, as well as build relationships and trust with other REALTORS® involved in the transaction, to provide superior knowledge and negotiating power for the positive benefit of the clients we represent.

As professional REALTORS®, our code of ethics provides you with the utmost professionalism and real estate knowledge.


Property Tax Information

A property tax (or millage tax) is a levy on property that the owner is required to pay. The tax is levied by the governing authority of the jurisdiction in which the property is located; it may be paid to a national government, a federated state, a county/region, or a municipality. Multiple jurisdictions may tax the same property.

  1. Land, improvements to land (immovable man-made objects, such as buildings)
  2. Personal property (movable man-made objects)
  3. Intangible Property, also known as incorporeal property, describes something which a person or corporation can have ownership of and can transfer ownership of to another person or corporation, but has no physical substance. It generally refers to statutory creations such as copyright, trademarks, or patents.
  4. Real property (also called real estate or realty) means the combination of land andimprovements. Structures (i.e. the house) are taxed separately from land. Under a property tax system, the government requires and/or performs an appraisal of the monetary value of each property, and tax is assessed in proportion to that value. Forms of property tax used vary among countries and jurisdictions.

A special assessment tax is sometimes confused with property tax. These are two distinct forms of taxation: one (ad valorem tax) relies upon the fair market value of the property being taxed for justification, and the other (special assessment) relies upon a special enhancement called a “benefit” for its justification.

The property tax rate is often given as a percentage. It may also be expressed as a per mil (amount of tax per thousand currency units of property value), which is also known as a millage rate or mill is also one-thousandth of a currency unit.) To calculate the property tax, the authority will multiply the assessed value of the property by the mill rate and then divide by 1,000. For example, a property with an assessed value of $50,000 located in a municipality with a mill rate of 20 mills would have a property tax bill of $1,000 per year.


Purchase Contract & Disclosures

Prior to your home search, we need your cooperation as we want to understand your requirements and financial ability in order to represent you effectively.

The purchase contract and multiple disclosures are essential in real estate transactions. Depending on the area of the United States, the purchase contract and disclosures required vary. That is why you have Homes2USA representing you. We understand the regional nuances of the purchase contract and disclosures. We will guide you through the process effortlessly so that a potential stressful situation is a seamless, positive experience for you.

We will help educate you to understand the purchase contract and the escrow instructions, as that is the binding agreement between the buyer and seller of real estate. We do this upfront, so that when you find a property you want to purchase, you already have a greater understanding of the contract and are more comfortable with the process. If you ever have a question, we are here to answer each and every one. We are here to be the bridge for you to successfully purchase real estate in the United States and provide 100% support and client satisfaction.


Supplemental Property Taxes

When purchasing property in California, it is important to be familiar with supplemental property taxes. The Supplemental Real Property Tax Law was signed by the Governor of California in July of 1983 and is a part of an ambitious drive to aid California’s schools. If you plan on buying new property or undertaking new construction, you will be required to pay a supplemental property tax which will become a lien against your property as of the date of ownership change, or the date of completion of new construction.

There is a formula used to determine your tax bill. The total supplemental assessment will be prorated based on the number of months remaining until the end of the tax year, June 30.

The timing of when you will be billed fluctuates based on the individual county and the workload of the County Assessor, the County Controller/Auditor and the County Tax Collector. The assessor will appraise your property and advise you of the new supplemental assessment amount. At that time you will have the opportunity to discuss your valuation, apply for a Homeowner’s Exemption and be informed of your right to file an Assessment Appeal. The County will then calculate the amount of the supplemental tax and the tax collector will mail you a supplemental tax bill. The supplemental tax bill will identify, among other things, the following information: the amount of the supplemental tax and the date on which the taxes will become delinquent.

For additional information, please consult with your Homes2USA REALTOR®, lender, and escrow officer.



Buyer’s Handbook

When you are thinking of purchasing real estate in the United States, our REALTORS® will provide you with a Buyer’s Handbook in your local language, which includes an overview of the process and important things you should know as deadlines occur during the transaction. If there are geographical differences in the purchase of real estate process, our team will guide you through those so you are always aware of the transaction steps and your role in the process.


Legal Holidays

Federal law (5 U.S.C. 6103) established specified public holidays each year for Federal employees. It is important to be aware of these legal holidays as County Recorders Offices are generally closed on these dates. Your Homes2USA REALTOR® recognizes this importance and will check with the respective county where you are recording your real estate sale to incorporate any legal holidays in the closing schedule.

Please note that most Federal employees work on a Monday through Friday schedule. For these employees, when a holiday falls on a non-workday – Saturday or Sunday – the holiday usually is observed on Monday (if the holiday falls on Sunday) or Friday (if the holiday falls on Saturday).

For 2013, the following are recognized Legal Holidays:

  • Tuesday, January 1st: New Year’s Day
  • Monday, January 21st: Martin Luther King’s Birthday
  • Tuesday, February 12th: Lincoln’s Birthday*
  • Monday, February 18th: Washington’s Birthday/President’s Day
  • Monday, April 1st: Cesar Chaves Day*
  • Monday, April 15th: Patriots’ Day**
  • Monday, May 27th: Memorial Day
  • Thursday, July 4th: Independence Day
  • Monday, September 2nd: Labor Day
  • Monday, October 14th: Columbus DayMonday, November 11th: Veteran’s Day
  • Thursday, November 28th: Thanksgiving Day
  • Friday, November 29th: Thanksgiving Holiday*
  • Tuesday, December 24th: Christmas Eve*
  • Wednesday, December 25th: Christmas Holiday

*This date is not considered a Legal Holiday but many San Francisco Bay Area County Recorder Offices are closed.

**This date is a Legal Holiday but many San Francisco Bay Area County Recorder Offices are not recognizing this as an office holiday.

In addition, some states recognize different dates as holidays. Your Homes2USA REALTOR® and Escrow Officer will educate you on any that may potentially affect the close of your real estate transaction.

These Legal Holidays are important to recognize during the real estate transaction. It is important to incorporate these dates when specifying purchase contract deadlines and close of escrow to insure the specified deadlines do not fall on a legal holiday. Your Homes2USA REALTOR® will insure legal holidays are taken into consideration when writing and executing upon your real estate purchase contract and keep you apprised of legal holidays that may occur during your transaction so there is no impact on close of escrow.


1031 & 1033 Exchanges

1031 Exchange refers to the section of the Internal Revenue Code (IRS) that provides for the tax deferred exchange of real and personal property. With a 1031 Exchange, investors can trade up, consolidate, diversify, leverage, or relocate their investments and not be penalized by having to pay either capital gains or recapture (the amount deducted while owning the property is taxable if the property is sold). The taxes are deferred until the investor does a non-1031 Exchange sale or the property goes to the investor’s estate. When the property passes into an estate, there is a step-up in basis to the current market value.

1033 Exchange refers to Section 1033 of the IRS tax code which covers various forms of involuntary conversion of taxpayer property. Conversions occur when property is destroyed, stolen, condemned, or disposed of under threat of condemnation and the taxpayer receives other property or money in payment (e.g., insurance proceeds or a condemnation award).

For 1033 exchanges involving a government taking, investors can switch from non-cash flowing land or management properties such as apartment buildings to NNN Properties and Tenant in Common that can produce predictable cash flow and require little to no management.

Homes2USA has partners who are experts on 1031 & 1033 Exchanges, available to guide you through the details of these processes. As with all major investment decisions, it is important that you consult with your tax and/or legal counsel prior to making a final decision. This information is provided for general informational purposes only and is not meant as legal or accounting advice.